Headphone Commute

Valiska – On Pause
[Trouble In Utopia]


Analog saturation, reflection, and letting go, On Pause presents an emotively biographical album.

Valiska first showed up on my radar when I premiered his track, titled “A Pause”, on Headphone Commute, back in September of 2017. Since then,’s On Pause, released on Francis Redman’s brand new label, Trouble In Utopia, has appeared on my rotations nearly on a weekly basis, as I fell in love with his particular aesthetic of simplicity, minimalism, and disintegration. At first, the music sounds almost bare. A few unembellished notes, uncomplicated phrases, basic lo-fi effects. But go just past the first track of the album, and you begin to understand, that in austerity there lies an honest sound. Sujata’s humble entry onto the scene, where such direct and unpretentious music comes with virtue, is very dear, sweet, and precious.

Valiska - On Pause

Throughout the eight pieces of the album, Poland born and now Calgary (Canada) based composer works with a limited palette of a Moog Sub 37 synth, some haunting voice, and remnants of their sound, recorded on a tape loop, which shows the signs of wear, warping, hissing, and crackling in its unyielding wail. These elements of tone and texture continue to permeate the underlying theme. Although conceptually straightforward in its style, you suddenly find yourself yearning to be surrounded by nothing much but this intricately bare environment, that is the world of Valiska. Such sonic impermanence seeps through the mood of this entire composition, reflecting melancholy, sorrow, and ultimately hope.

Most experiences have different layers to them, things that used to be infuriating can become running jokes or fond memories – the album reflect this complexity and should connect to a listener’s memories or experiences. To me, it’s also not a sombre or gloomy album for the most part, maybe introspective, but rarely in a sad way.

Krzysztof Sujata

Mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri at his Black Knoll Studio, and pressed on a nicely cut 12” by Simon Davey at The Exchange Vinyl, the album comes housed in a beautiful dual printed sleeve. There are, of course, CD and digital editions (as well as a few copies of test pressings left). A captivating, charming, and magnetic work. Fans of noir-fi, decay, isolationist ambiance will approve.

Grab your copy here.


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