About a year and a half ago, my friend introduced me to the artist Melaina Kol, showing me their split album with waveform*, “Sckrpnch.” I was immediately drawn in by the wonderfully crafted and infectious tunes by Melaina Kol and his work slowly became some of my favorite music as I continued to listen to more on my own. I found myself having his songs stuck in my head for days on end, I was itching to hear “Sckrpnch” and “Eraserbac” again.
It’s funny my last blog post was about an underrated band from the 90s, and now I’m writing about another criminally underrated artist today.
Who is Melaina Kol?
With a little over 20,000 monthly Spotify listeners, I still don’t feel like enough people are listening to Melaina Kol. I personally feel like the person behind Melaina Kol is one of the best songwriters of our generation. There is so much intent behind his work, you can tell each song is perfectly crafted and the production is always so rich and warm.
The artist behind Melaina Kol is Logan Hornyak, who is originally from Youngsville, North Carolina. He has kind of been an enigma, he doesn’t really post much on social media and has only recently started playing live more after the pandemic.
There aren’t many videos of his performances on social media either. One thing I do know is that he has been releasing incredible indie music under the name Melaina Kol since 2016 when he released his first album, “THEROTTINGMOUTH.”
He first rose in popularity in the underground indie scene when he released his fifth album “Black Bile” in 2020. The record included some of his most loved songs by fans like “Pill” and “Crum.” If you’re looking to get into his music, there’s no bad record to start with, but he just somewhat recently released a new album titled “Roach Friends” on November 25, 2022. According to the artist’s bandcamp, “‘Roach Friends’ is a collection of B-sides and demos recorded alongside AMOSAT–his previous record released a year earlier on November 27, 2021–and it’s a great place to start.
Over the years, the music Melaina Kol has put out has effortlessly evolved from Alex G-esque, singer-songwriter songs to beautiful, engrossing soundscapes.
His songs always feature interesting percussion sounds and patterns, he includes unique samples and plays around different synth sounds, and all of it works together to produce something you’ve never heard before.
I also have to mention how Hornyak has one of the most unique voices in indie music as well. He always sounds like he’s holding back, his voice has an interesting tone and it feels like he’s talking while singing which makes the songs feel more personal. On his last record, Melaina Kol dived heavier into the genres of indietronica, bedroom pop and indie folk, which have always been at the roots of his projects, but have shined through more on later releases.
His last album, “AMOSAT,” reminded me of early Animal Collective projects like “Strawberry Jam” which I adore so much. His latest record feels like a perfect blend of all of his influences: he has been able to create an iconic sound for himself.
While I was listening to “Roach Friends” I wanted to do more of a deep dive into his work to see if there were any unreleased songs I could find or performances on YouTube. I found that one of my favorite songs from “Roach Friends,” “Book of the Beast” was written over three years ago, which is really interesting to put it into perspective when trying to understand the change between his writing on his albums that he put out in 2018 like my favorite of his “Bird Kill Worm” and his 2020 album “Black Bile” compared to “AMOSAT.”
Every time I put on one of his records or songs I am just in awe of how good they are, and the feelings of amazement and joy are brought right back to me. His songs make me feel a sense of child-like wonder, or like I’m stuck in a dream. Even though some of his songs are quite sad and vulnerable, they bring me so much comfort and peace.
“Book of the Beast”
As I mentioned earlier, my favorite song on the record is “Book of the Beast,” which has been on constant repeat for me since it was released. It has some of his best lyrics, I wish I could quote every line here, though, but since I can’t I guess you’ll just have to listen to the song on your own time and decipher the meanings.
Some of Hornyak’s lyrics are very direct but many others can be left up to interpretation, which I love, in the song he sings, “Do I make what I want, what I am, and how it seems / Or do I live in a trance and fix the worst of me?” I feel like he is speaking about his art, and the struggles of being an artist, questioning if he is really doing what he loves and creating something authentic and true to himself. The repetition in the song creates an incredibly catchy tune that gets stuck in my head for days.
“Nx” is another earworm on the record. It feels like a euphoric trance, the percussion is more basic compared to other songs on the album, but what makes the song is the all of the space and distance between parts.
Hornyack knows how to play with song structures in really interesting ways, using repetition and simple chords to his advantage and he’s continuously building upon them. “Swan Song” follows “Nx” and immediately changes up the pace of the record. Running a little over one minute the song feels like a whirlwind, the drums are fast and move with a purpose, the samples he plays are swirling, and it creates a track of pure bliss.
Most of the songs on the album are short and sweet, like the track “10 12” that runs just over two minutes and includes a cute and playful ukulele part and interesting drum beats. The album is completely engrossing, and every song on the 15-track record fit perfectly together and feel important to Hornyak’s new sound and continual growth as an artist.
His songs are so consuming and visceral. Once I start his records I am immediately entranced in the worlds that he creates. It is truly difficult to write about my love for his music and his geniusness, I’m scared to analyze anything wrong or poorly because of how much work and effort is poured into his work. His work is beautiful poetry, it’s emotional and vulnerable, unique and effortlessly beautiful. The production on this album is so wonderful and it has been really exciting to see Melaina Kol’s sound become more refined and unique over time.
I’m always looking forward to hearing and seeing what he does next and I know that his next record will be nothing but amazing. You can listen to his music on Bandcamp and every other streaming site.