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Andrew Yarovenko’s Start Somewhere delivers beauty, hope, and adventure

A canvas with three smudges of paint and two lines of paint in a haphazard arrangement. Andrew Yarovenko is mentioned in the bottom left hand corner, and Start Somewhere is mentioned in the center-right of the square.Andrew Yarovenko‘s Start Somewhere is a rich, multi-textured record. Yarovenko’s piano-based compositions draw on flamenco, electronic post-rock, chamber pop, and acoustic guitar explorations to create a unique, engaging collection. Yet even through the diversity of sonic touchstones, Yarovenko never loses sight of the elegant, melodic core of each piece.

Yarovenko’s core ideas are elegant, even (post-)romantic. Opener “No Body to Blame,” “Lost in Time,” and “Requiem” each display the ability to write effective, moving pieces in largely traditional modes. “No Body to Blame” carefully delivers piano and strings in a melancholy yet inquisitive piece. The composition is confident and clear; Yarovenko expertly uses tempo and negative space to build productive tensions. The solo piano of “Lost in Time” is a slow, thoughtful rumination on a theme, reminiscent of Ben Cosgrove’s work. “Requiem” is just that: a requiem for string quartet. It is somber, mournful, and–due to a few distinctive choices, such as a pizzicato section–unusually enjoyable for a piece intended to accompany mourning.

As great as those pieces are, the adventurous pieces are even more exciting to me. “The Feeling of Breathing” is a fast-paced, somewhat angular work for piano and strings that makes me think of Oliver Davis’ work. “Negative Space” strongly evokes flamenco songs, even including the iconic speedy clapping. “Cloud Surfing” pairs flamenco approaches with chunky strings that would not be out of place in indie rock for a deeply interesting piece. “Explaining the Joke” is a little darker; it contrasts a prominent, distorted electronic rhythm section with delicate guitar work to land a post-rock take on Yarovenko’s vision.

Of all the pieces here, “The Death of Odysseus” is the one I return to and ponder. It is a subtle piece for guitar and strings that yet packs a hefty emotional weight. The removal of big melodic moves and overt compositional tactics lets the feeling shine through. It’s a piece that remains hopeful in the midst of sorrow, even the grief of death. Hope in mourning is something many of us (I mean, me) need reminders of right now.

Start Somewhere admirably displays Andrew Yarovenko’s ability to elegantly capture moods in traditional and adventurous composition types. The collection holds together well over its whole run time, even with the variety of different feels and approaches here. Those looking for beauty and hope amid evocative pieces will do well to look in Yarovenko’s direction. Highly recommended.