domenica 30 dicembre 2012


This is Ekatarina Velika's second album. Every song here is an anthem for the fans of the band, and at least two of them, "Kao da je bilo nekad" and "Ti si sav moj bol", are universally known all across ex-Yugoslavia.
The deluxe production of Dragan Čačinović adds even more power to the formula, which places the band in a no man's land where the melancholy of post-punk meets the muscular epicness of MTV's rockstars (I know, it seems a contradiction in terms, but this is why EKV were so unique).

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martedì 18 dicembre 2012


Ekatarina Velika was Milan Mladenović's second band. It was founded in 1982 with the help of keyboardist Margita Stefanović. The original name of the project was Katarina II
After the departure of guitar player Dragomir Mihajlović in 1984, Milan and Margita decided to adopt the new, definitive name.
This is the second album of the band, the first as Ekatarina Velika, and the first of their classics.

"Oči boje meda" is an elaborated, chamaleontic post-punk number (it became a hit in Yugoslavia, launching the band into the pop-rock stardom); "Zaboravi ovaj grad" is another crazy song, with a synthesizer sound similar to that of Japan's Richard Barbieri; "Tatoo" is a powerful rock anthem, marked by a tight rhythm section. After such a sequence, the rest of the album sounds more relaxed, but it is able to offer other fascinating moments ("Ruke", with its liquid keyboard landscapes; "Modro i zeleno", with its prosperous bassline).

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sabato 15 dicembre 2012


Today I'm starting to explore the discography of Milan Mladenović
Dead of pancreatic cancer in 1994, when he was only 36, Milan is still one of Serbia's national heroes. He was probably the most eclectic mind in the history of ex-YU rock. His adventure lasted from 1980 to the year of his death, through three historical bands: Šarlo Akrobata, Katarina II/Ekatarina Velika, and Angel's Breath.

Considering that every project was deeply different from each other, my opinion is that Milan can be ranked up there with the great geniuses of international music. He was to Yugoslavian music what Caetano Veloso is to Brazilian music, what David Bowie is to British music, what Franco Battiato is to Italian music, and so on.

Šarlo Akrobata had a short career. Their first record was "Paket aranžman", a crucial album shared with important names such as Idoli and Električni Orgazam. Šarlo Akrobata's songs "Ona se budi" and "Niko kao ja" became the greatest hits of the whole anthology, and two anthems of the Novi Talas movement.

After that brief wave of mainstream success, the band recorded this full-lenght debut album, characterized by an experimental, abrasive mixture of punk, funk, dub, ska, and noise
Their two hits were excluded from the tracklist, and the Jugoton label did not promote the record as expected, generating a commercial failure (only 10.000 copies sold at the time). The project disbanded soon after.
Milan Mladenović would have founded Ekatarina Velika, while bass player Dušan Kojić created Disciplina Kičme (another important band, which I will post sooner or later).

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sabato 1 dicembre 2012

AZRA - "RAVNO DO DNA" (1982)

Recorded live in Zagreb (October 21, 1981).
Release date: March, 1982.
Produced by Branimir Stulić.
Triple vynil, double CD.
Two hours of music. 
44 songs. Eleven originally appeared on their self-titled debut album, fourteen on "Sunčana strana ulice", six on various singles, while thirteen are brand new songs which you would not find on any studio album.

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martedì 27 novembre 2012


Josipa Lisac is an old Croatian singer who broke into the scenes at the end of the Sixties. Her powerful voice was kinda similar to that of Italian popstar Mina, but unlike her, Lisac not afraid to front rock music (in 1973 she released "Dnevnik jedne ljubavi", an album marked by psychedelic funk and baroque prog influences).

"Najveci uspjesi" collects some of Lisac's best songs, released as singles between 1968 and 1973. They were recorded at Jugoton Studios, with the help of the RTZ Orchestra. Authors and musical directors change from song to song, but the most important was probably Karlo Metikoš, who later composed the majority of Lisac's hits.

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domenica 25 novembre 2012


Original band's name: Аквариум
Original title: Радио Африка

"Radio Afrika" is Akvarium's sixth album. It is also their first recorded with a professional equipment, after their producer Andrei Tropillo corrupted the engineer of a classical music studio, allowing them to use it at night (as you probably remember from the previous post, Russian rock bands were still not allowed yet in professional studios in the early 80's).

It is such a strange album: some songs are easy to remember, with their contagious tunes ("Muzyka serebryanykh spits" is a folk-boogie in the style of Marc Bolan; "Rok n roll mertv" is a powerful electric folk anthem; "Vana Khoya" is a lounge song, surrounded by an ethereal atmosphere; "Vremya Luny" is a danceable, wonderful pop number guided by Sergey Kuryokhin's electric organ sound), while others are little experimental fragments full of field recordings, manipulated tapes, piano and sax jazz solos. 

After this album the band's popularity increased exponentially all around Soviet Union.

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mercoledì 21 novembre 2012

AKVARIUM - "TABU" (1982)

Original band's name: Аквариум
Original title: Табу

Since their foundation in 1972, Akvarium represented the history of Russian rock music more than any other band. It is basically an open project, which changed a lot of members through the decades, with the only constant presence of leader, singer and guitar player Boris Grebenshikov.
Before writing about this album, their fifth, I will summarize their adventurous history.

The Seventies were the era of the harshest rock repression in Soviet Union. In the first years Akvarium played only some acoustic concerts in small apartments and clubs: they didn't use electric instruments to avoid control and problems with the authority. 
Their first public concerts were played in 1976, but still with acoustic instruments (a strategy to obtain invitations at the various Popular Music Festivals organized in Russia at the time). 
Anyway, they were still not allowed to release albums. Everything they recorded from 1972 to 1979 was realized in poor studio-apartments, with no equipment and no budget. This material remained in the shadow for decades until it was released between 1996 and 2001: it's basically a mix of horribly recorded folk tunes and ingenuous tape manipulations. You can live without it.

In 1980 an event changed the history of Russian music. "Vesennie ritmy, Tbilisi-80!" was the first Rock Festival in Soviet Union. It was organized by the Georgian communist party to show an open mind, and hopefully to sedate the students' riots of 1978-79.
Akvarium were expelled after their performance was considered scandalous, but the festival was a big success and it started the liberalization of rock music (officially, rock albums were still banned, but the authorities let the bands release and self-distribuite them through concerts, festivals and black market: that's why Russian rock albums of the Eighties were released on home-made magnetic tapes).

In 1986 Melodiya, the official Soviet label, signed Kino and Akvarium under contract, giving them the possibility to sell their albums with a regular distribution. This was probably due to the fact that they were both enormously popular, and the authorities feared the impact that they had on young people. The majority of other bands had to wait until the birth of the C.I.S. to reach major distributions.

This is basically all you have to know to understand the political situation of the time, and to understand how much this band fighted for its music: it started in 1972, it was allowed to release its first album in 1981, and it had to wait until 1986 to obtain a regular professional contract.

"Tabu" is the album that I've chosen to start with Akvarium because it is the first one which is musically interesting: three of their first four albums ("Siniy al'bom", 1981; "Treugol'nik", 1981; "Akustika", 1982) were basically folk music in the style of early Bob Dylan (just adding some flute here and there), while the remaining one ("Elektrichestvo", 1981) was probably out of focus (on the first side some electric boogies recorded live in concert, on the second a collection of reggae tunes recorded in studio).

In "Tabu" Grebenshikov decided to improve Akvarium's musical power. Helped by Sergey Kuryokhin's brilliant piano improvisations and Alexander Lyapin's powerful electric guitars, Grebenshikov created a personal universe that englobes without distinction post-punk rhythms, blues scales, local folk, free-jazz fragments, and the aristocracy of art-rock. The best tracks here are probably "Segodnya noch'yu kto-to" (a nearly gothic piece), "Pepel" (a cold post-punk song admittedly inspired by Gary Numan), and "Synov'ya molchalivykh dney" (an epic ballad dedicated to David Bowie since its title, which means "Sons of the Silent Age"): three extraordinary rock numbers that show a band at the height of its musical creativity, with nothing to envy to Western music's giants.

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giovedì 15 novembre 2012

AYA RL - "AYA RL" (1989)

After a long hiatus, Aya RL finally released another album.
Originally titled "Aya RL", but reissued as "Aya RL II" (to discern it from the previous album), this second studio effort shows a mutation into the band's dynamics. Igor Czerniawski's keyboards and electronic sounds become dominant, while guitars and other instruments are relegated in the background. Even the voice of Pawel Kukiz is not as important as in their debut, considering the presence of tracks like "Waltera pamieci rapsod zalobny" (instrumental), "Fiji" (just some spoken words), and "Ten czlowiek z teczka" (nearly whispered). 

Songs are constructed upon repetitive electronic patterns and do not always fit Aya RL's old atmosphere (the single "Jak ze szkla i stali" is virtually a soul track: not that bad, but surely not what you want to hear from Aya RL).

Anyway, Kukiz regained his crown on the apocalyptic crescendo of "Za chlebem".

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venerdì 9 novembre 2012


The album that closed the first phase of Maanam's career. It is also their most atmospheric effort, with lots of echoes, guitar effects, and ethereal background vocals. Their initial punk fury has definitely evaporated into these immaterial sounds and majestic rhythms.

"Mental Cut" is a nothing less than a classic, as proved by the tracklist. "Simple Story" mixes new wave and jangle-pop, "Kowboje O.K." is a vivid instrumental track with country-Western influences, massive ballads such as "You or Me" and "Kreon" are somehow similar to the Sisters of Mercy's coeval masterpiece "Some Kind of Stranger". Thanks to irresistible hit singles such as "Lipstick on the Glass" and "Lucciola", sales surpassed the 300.000 copies mark in one year. 

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martedì 6 novembre 2012


When releasing their third album, Maanam tried to change their aggressive sound into a more refined product. The result was one of their most revered works, even though not their most successful (150.000 copies in one year is a solid performance, but not a triumph if we consider Maanam's usual sales).

Every song here is different from each other. "Nocny patrol" is a dub march featuring Kora on her most ethereal performance up to that moment, "To tylko tango" has a quite self-explainatory title, "French Is Strange" is a syncopated track with a sharp guitar sound (similar to the one that the Sisters Of Mercy's guitar player Gary Marx was developing in England at the same time), "Raz-dwa-raz-dwa" is an epic post-punk assault with a heavy metal opening riff in the style of Iron Maiden. 
The anthem is probably "Krakowski Spleen", an atmospheric mid-tempo with some harrowing, poetic lyrics: "The streets are shrouded in mist, A key in every door, Gaze out through my window, Longing for the storm. The sun so high so high, Shining in the pilot's eye, Tirelessly ablaze, Burning in icy space. I'm waiting right here for the wind, To blow my shutters away, Then maybe I can rise, With the sun in my eyes".

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lunedì 29 ottobre 2012

MAANAM - "O!" (1982)

If compared to Maanam's debut album, the sound "O!" is more stereotypical (i.e. the flat snare drum sound that dominated the Eighties), but it's still powerful and enjoyable.

It was a successful record, selling around 380.000 copies in 1982-83. Seven of its songs reached the top-3 on the Trójka chart. "Nie poganiaj mnie..." is probably the most popular title here, but I also enjoy aggressive numbers such as "Paranoja jest goła" and "Pałac na piasku", with that torrential rhythm section.

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sabato 27 ottobre 2012

MAANAM - "MAANAM" (1981)

Maanam was one of the greatest Polish post-punk bands (the others being Perfect, Lady Pank, and Republika). Their debut album, a new wave milestone, was a slow but strong seller in the early Eighties, totaling over 230.000 copies between 1981 and 1983.
Technically superior to the average English-speaking post-punk bands, Maanam played an all-power art-punk with frantic rhythms and whirling guitars, dominated by Olga "Kora" Jackowska's hysterical approach and acrobatic vocal lines. 
While rhythm guitarist Marek Jackowski composed every song, revealing an outstanding talent as a songwriter, the added power to the sound is brought by Ryszard Olesiński, a virtuoso lead guitarist who filled every song with twisted solos and bizarre tricks.

"Szare miraże" and "Boskie Buenos" are probably the most popular songs, but the entire tracklist is brilliant, with the ferocious "Karuzela marzeń", the incredible speed of "Żądza pieniądza", the atmospheric instrumental "Miłość jest cudowna", and the mazy guitar solo of "Stoję stoję czuję się świetnie".

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lunedì 22 ottobre 2012


I don't think there's much I can say about Siekiera. Their cult is kinda strong even among the Western alternative music listeners.

For those who are totally new to the argument: Siekiera was initially a hardcore-punk project, founded by Tomasz Adamski (vocals/guitars) and Dariusz Malinowski (vocals/bass) in 1983. After some line-up changes, they were joined in 1985 by Paweł Młynarczyk (keyboards) and Zbigniew Musiński (drums), with whom they recorded this debut album.

By the time of "Nowa Alkesandria" their sound had moved from hardcore to the darker borders of post-punk, with loud, dominant bass lines, torrential drum patterns and cold synthesizers layers.

"Już Blisko" and "Tak dużo tak mocno" reached the top-10 on the LP3 songs chart, and the album sold around 50.000 copies (a respectable result, considering its harsh sound). Nonetheless, Siekiera disbanded soon after.

P.S. I've added three bonus tracks. 
"Jest bezpiecznie" and "Misiowie puszyści" formed altogether the band's first single, while "Ja stoję ja tańczę ja walczę" was originally included on the compilation album "Jak punk to punk", along with artists such as Armia, Dezerter, Rejestracja, Process, Abaddon, and TZN Xenna.

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giovedì 18 ottobre 2012

SERGEY KURYOKHIN - "GOSPODIN OFORMITEL / POSVYASHCHONNYY", soundtracks (rec. 1988-89, rel. 1999)

Died of cardiac sarcoma in 1996 when only 42, Sergey Kuryokhin was one of the most important figures in the history of Russian music, having faced countless music styles without losing his radical artistic integrity. Famous in the avant-jazz circles for his noisy piano improvisations, but also able to design ambitious progressive suites later in his career, Kuryokhin reached the peak of his pop creativity with the soundtracks for "Gospodin oformitel" and "Posvyashchonnyy", two wonderful surrealistic movies directed by Oleg Teptsov. Kuryokhin created the right mix of music to emphasize the images, both baroque and horrorific.

Starting with the sick, demented carillon melody of "Shkatulka" and closing with "Erotika", where space ambient meets an operatic solfeggio, Kuryokhin leads the listeners into a travel through Russian folk music ("Mistika"), exciting post-punk tracks ("Igra 1", "Sorvalas'"), and elegies which could compete with those composed by Danny Elfman ("Krysha"). The key-track is probably "Donna Anna", a new wave number with soprano vocals and an epic guitar solo with a harsh distortion.

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sabato 13 ottobre 2012


Original band's name: НИИ Косметики
Original title: История болезни

Formed in Moscow in 1984 and guided by singer Mikhail "Mefodiy" Evseenkov, NII Kosmetiki was a minor band of Russian new wave. Their self-released magnetic tapes gained a small cult following through the years.

NII Kosmetiki sound pretty fresh today: their mix of new wave and pop - with effected guitars, low quality keyboards, and a small budget production - kinda predated musicians such as Ariel Pink and trends such as glo-fi and chill wave. 

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lunedì 8 ottobre 2012

KOFE - "BALANS" (1986)

Original band's name: Кофе
Original title: Баланс

Kofe was one of the many bands generated by the Saint Petersburg underground scene.

"Balans" is their second album, it was produced by Aleksey Vishnya (Алексей Вишня), and it includes pseudo-EBM compositions ("Monument"), synth-pop with catchy refrains ("Zero"), electronic rock & roll with demential voices ("Bugi shok"), and a wonderful title track, which can be considered the Russian version of Duran Duran's "Planet Earth".

The project broke up in 1987, when singer Georgiy Kobeshavidze's quarrels with the rest of the band reached a point of no return. Three of them would have formed Petlya Nesterova.

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giovedì 4 ottobre 2012


Original band's name: Петля Нестерова 
Original title: Кто здесь?

Petlya Nesterova (Loop of Death) was one of the many underground bands of the Saint Petersburg scene. 
It was founded in 1987 by Eduard Nesterenko (guitars/vocals), Igor Kopylov (bass) and Aleksandr Senin (drums), after they left Kofe due to artistic divergences. 

“Kto zdes'...” is their debut album. Recorded by Aleksey Vishnya at her home studio and then refined in Berlin, these ten tracks show a particular sound, both lyrical and danceable, with syncopated bass lines, clean guitar riffs on high octaves, and a mix of played drums and rhythm machines. Yuri Kasparyan from Kino and Andrej Nuzhdin from Igry helped on guitars.  

After the release of "Kto zdes'..." the band was never a full-time engagement, as every member was involved in other projects. A second album, “Salto mortale”, was released only in 2001. Nesterenko tragically died of cancer in 2008. 

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lunedì 1 ottobre 2012


Oh well, I had to post this album sooner or later. 
This is THE yugoslavian new wave album: not the most successful, not the most beautiful, but surely the most idolized and influent record of its era. 
It contains eleven songs, performed by three legendary bands: Šarlo Akrobata, Električni Orgazam, and Idoli.  
They were all brand new tracks, except Idoli's "Maljčiki", a re-recording of their second single.
"Vi" and "Krokodili dolaze" by Električni Orgazam would have been re-recorded to appear on their debut album.

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giovedì 27 settembre 2012


"Lišće prekriva Lisabon" is the band's second effort and it differs a lot from their debut: though the sound is still recognizable, this one represents a more difficult listening (most of the tracks are fragments admittedly created under the use of LSD and can barely be considered as songs). 
Anyway, despite being structurally crazy, the album shows some clean arrangements: keyboards are shiny and well calibrated, and the rhythm section is more tangled than ever (some patterns are puzzling).
Trumpet player Pero Ugrin preciously appears on two tracks ("Leptir" and "Alabama", the latter from the Brecht-Weill songbook).

It's not easy to tell which album is better: if you are into the song-form concept you will probably prefer their debut, if you are into a less structured kind of music, you will probably prefer this one. They are two faces of the same gold medal. 

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lunedì 24 settembre 2012


In 1981 Električni Orgazam changed the face of Yugoslavian music by being part of the historical album "Paket aranžman", along with Idoli and Šarlo Akrobata: that fundamental release marked the beginning of Balkan new wave more than any other record. 

I'll post it in the near future, but now let's focus on Električni Orgazam: this is their full lenght debut album and it was released just a few months later. It shows a matured band, less dependent from punk's urgency and more conscious of its potential. 
Helped by the production of the Grupa 220 ex-member Ivan Stančić, the Serbian quintet exhibits some refined arrangements, with Srđan Gojković and Ljubomir Jovanović detonating a red-hot guitar vortex, and Ljubomir Đukić providing compulsive synthetic patterns and electric organ flows. Gojković and Đukić also shared vocal duties, in a both theatrical and hysterical mood.

The album became a cult object in Yugoslavia and received NME's praise when Rough Trade imported some copies in Great Britain. Anyway, Električni Orgazam would definitely reach the mainstream status only five years later, when they changed their style into a more conventional pop-rock sound.

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domenica 23 settembre 2012


If someone liked Ziyo's first album, he has to give a chance to their second one too. It's slightly less wave oriented, with a much more muscular guitar sound, but still very dark and atmospheric, expecially if you compare it to their mid-90's works. Moreover, it contains their first hit, "Bliżej Gwiazd" (no. 1 on the Trójka singles chart), an incredible, epic song that flatters somewhere between the Church's "Under the Milky Way" and the Mission's "Wasteland"

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domenica 16 settembre 2012


For Azra's second album Branimir Štulić obtained as much freedom as he can get from the publishers of Jugoton Records. He produced it in person (unlike their debut effort) and he wrote some of his most powerful lyrics, equally dividing them between love songs and political anthems. Some tracks contain really harsh slogans ("Poljska u mome srcu"/"Poland Is in My Heart"; "Užas je moja furka"/"Horror is My Vibe"; "Kurvini sinovi"/"Bastards"), which testify that the Yugoslavian government policy wasn't as strict as the Soviet ones (as you probably know, Yugoslavia didn't sign the Warsaw pact and it wasn't technically part of the Eastern Bloc).

"Sunčana strana ulice" is the opus magnum of Azra's studio career. It is a double vynil, with six songs on each side, and it lasts over an hour. 
Štulić worked hard on the acoustic guitar sound (particularly high and sharp) and on echo techniques (in some moments the percussion are threated as in Jamaican dub records), while the arrangements ranged from folk ballads to rock'n'roll, crossing some cripple post-punk miniatures. Mišo Hrnjak's bass guitar is often prominent, and some songs are heavily marked by the presence of wind instruments (saxes, trumpet, tuba, harmonica).

The biggest hit of the album, "Odlazak u noć", is a jangle pop gem which predates English-speaking indie pop (only Orange Juice's "Falling and Laughing" was released before it). Other impressive numbers are the choral power pop anthem "Užas je moja furka", the obscure tango of "Kurvini sinovi", and the indolent post-punk of "Poljubi me", but honestly, nearly every song deserves attention. 

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venerdì 14 settembre 2012

AZRA - "AZRA" (1980)

Branimir Štulić, Azra's leader, was not really satisfied with the band's debut album. Even though it contained some of their best known numbers (the epic folk-punk of "Gracija", the power pop of "Marina", the bluesy post-punk of "Obrati pažnju na posljednju stvar"), Štulić felt that the production of Yugoslavian rock veteran Drago Mlinarec didn't fit with the sound of the band. Actually, the dynamics of some instruments are not as rich as you would have expected from such a blockbuster, but the average quality is still high and everyone in the local music scene considers this a milestone. 

I may prefer the band's second album, but "Azra" is still a required listening, as it contains a bunch of classics ("Gracija", "Jablan", "Uradi nešto", "Iggy Pop").

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lunedì 10 settembre 2012

AZRA - "SINGL PLOČE 1979 1982"

Azra were one of the most popular Yugoslavian bands. 
Their first three albums are generally regarded as ultimate classics, and they all reached the top 10 in YU100, a selection of the best Yugoslavian rock albums, as voted by 66 journalists, musicians, and other artistic personalities. 
Founded in Zagreb in 1977 by Branimir Štulić (vocals, guitar, songwriter), the band faced every kind of guitar-driven style (anthemic pop, punk rock, folk ballads, ska, and experimental new wave fragments).

This anthology collects ten songs originally released between 1979 and 1982, as part of four non-album singles. They are easily enjoyable, as they represents the most immediate face of the band. The first two tracks ("Balkan" and "A šta da radim") altogether formed one of the key-singles of the local new wave.

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mercoledì 5 settembre 2012

ZIYO - "ZIYO" (1989)

Guided by singer and bass player Jerzy Durał, Ziyo was a magnificent Nowa Fala band, at least until 1990. Unfortunately, like many Polish post-punk acts, the more they proceeded into the 90s, the more their music betrayed the original formula, preferring a bad macho-rock in the wake of Guns & Roses. 

Anyway, while Ziyo remained inside the borders of post-punk, their music was no less than wonderful (think to Sad Lovers & Giants, the Chameleons, and the more atmospheric moments of the Church).

Recorded in 1987 but released only two years later, this debut album was the result of a 250 hours studio work, experimenting with new technologies and stratifying sound flows. The obsessive production, the epic but melancholic approach, and some passionate, well cronstructed anthems, made it one the best efforts on the dreamy and romantic side of gothic rock. 
Despite having sold 180.000 copies between 1989 and 1991, "Ziyo" is currently out of stock.

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lunedì 3 settembre 2012


Founded in Wrocław at the dawn of the Eighties, Polish quartet Klaus Mitffoch released just one album, but it is widely considered one of the best of its era. 

Lead singer and bass player Lech Janerka also wrote the anti-regime lyrics, using a mix of metaphors and grotesque situations that successfully bypassed the censors. The album is composed of sixteen tracks, eleven of which are fragments, shorter than two and a half minutes. The music offers skeletal, sparkling post-punk textures, mostly dominated by bass and guitar hooks, but sometimes crafted by delicate keyboards (i.e. "Siedzi", "Klus Mitroh", the epic "Strzeż się tych miejsc"). Even though it was not the definitive blockbuster of Polish rock, "Klaus Mitffoch" was able to sell over 120.000 copies in 1985 only.

P.S. I also included three essential non-album tracks, released as singles in 1983-84. One of these, "Jezu jak się cieszę", was their most successful song, selling over 80.000 copies and reaching no. 1 on the LP3 Polish chart. 

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sabato 1 settembre 2012

LADY PANK - "OHYDA" (1984)

To give a sequel to the most successful album of your era mustn't be easy. In fact, Lady Pank's second studio work often suffers from the comparison with its predecessor. 
Despite selling over 150.000 copies in one year, "Ohyda" failed to reach the massive following of "Lady Pank", nor reached the same respect among the critics. 

If it was released by a band without such a cumbersome debut album, probably it would have been regarded as a little classic today. I like two songs in particular, the atmospheric ballad "To jest tylko Rock and Roll" and the post-punk anthem "Zabij to".

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martedì 28 agosto 2012

REPUBLIKA - "82 -> 85"

"Kombinat", "Sexy Doll", "Telefony", and "Biała flaga" are Republika's four most famous songs (they all reached the top of the Trójka chart), but they can't be found in any of their studio albums, because they were released as singles before "Nowe Sytuacje".
In 1993 Sonic Records released this precious compilation. It collects all Republika's non-album tracks from the 1982-85 era (including my personal favourite "Moja Krew", a majestic electronic blues with ferocious anti-establishment lyrics). 

It is one of the most important releases in Republika's catlogue: it is considered by some to be superior even to their first two studio albums. Don't miss it!

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domenica 26 agosto 2012

DURNOE VLIYANIE - "NEPODVIZHNOST'" (rec. 1989, rel. 2003)

Original band's name: Дурное Влияние
Original title: Неподвижность

Not all Russian new wave bands were as lucky as Kino or Nautilus Pompilius, that after a few years in the underground were accepted by the government bodies, and allowed to release records on Melodiya, the only official label during the Soviet era.

Most of the bands remained in the underground, self-releasing their albums on cassette and magnetic tapes. Durnoe Vliyanie were even more ill-fated: they recorded material for no less than two albums between 1987 and 1991, never releasing anything before 2003, when "Nepodvizhnost'" finally came out on the small label Karma Mira.

Recorded in 1989, it was intended to be their first album. For obvious reasons, the production is anything but brilliant (the last track in particular is ruined by a weak sound quality), but you can find some beautiful songs, dark and emotional. Some moments are reminiscent of British goth-rock, with chorused and distorted guitars, gloomy vocals and big basslines (i.e. the groove of the title-track). 

Even if they gained a loyal cult, expecially in their native Saint Petersburg, Durnoe Vliyanie are still an overlooked band. They reunited in 2011, with three of the original members: Dmitry Petrov (bass), Igor Mosin (drums), and Aleksandr Skvortsov (vocals).

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venerdì 24 agosto 2012


Republika are back on Soviet Sam. This is their second album. If on one side it keeps their formula (Ciechowski's vocal attitude, which mixes cabaret with punk determination), on the other it shows some significant alterations (the sound of the piano becomes dominant, guitars are more atmospheric, and the flute that characterized "Nowe Sytuacje" disappears). 
The songwriting is maybe not as strong as in their debut, but this is still a great album and a required listening for those who love Polish rock music.

Unfortunately, "Nieustanne tango" was released on a limited edition of 45.000 copies only, and the band entered an irreversible crisis soon after its release, due to contrasts between Ciechowski and the other members.

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martedì 21 agosto 2012


Republika was one of the classic bands of Nowa Fala. Founded in 1981 and guided by the genius of singer and piano player Grzegorz Ciechowski, the quartet released two albums and a bunch of singles before disbanding in 1986.
A second, less interesting phase of their career begun in 1991 and lasted until 2001, when Ciechowski tragically died of aneurysm.

Recorded in a difficult context (the band felt responsible because it was anticipated by two successful singles), this debut album contains all the elements that made Republika an important project: powerful and metaphorical anti-regime lyrics, Ciechowski's passionate vocal style, and reckless musical structures (their post-punk background is twisted by unexpected odd meters, wild flute solos, frantic guitars, and art-rock piano patterns). "Nowe sytuacje" was an instant classic, selling 360.000 copies in 1983 alone.

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venerdì 17 agosto 2012


Idoli released only two albums, an EP and some singles, but those are enough to make them one of the greatest band from the ex-Yugoslavia music scene.

Guitar player and singer Vlada Divljan was the leader of the project, but keyboardist Srđan Šaper and percussionist Nebojša Krstić were also important in the economy of the band, both writing and singing some songs.

"Odbrana i poslednji dani" is their first full-lenght album, and their second studio work after the "VIS Idoli" EP. Due to his experimental nature and his provocative lyrics, inspired by a Borislav Pekić's novel about the life of a soldier, the record was not as succesful as expected (it sold 90.000 copies, while the previous EP exceeded the 200.000 mark). The band had also some problems with the censors because one of the songs openly referred to marshal Tito, and Divljan was forced to change its title from "Maršal" to "Poslednji dani".

Musically, the album offers a wide spectrum of sounds: an energetic post-punk with big basslines, loud drums patterns (with a martial feeling on some tracks), electronic noises, plastic rhythm guitars, but also atmospheric breaks and occasional acoustic ornaments. 
It's really hard (if not impossible) to find an English-speaking new wave band to compare them (or at least, the sound they created on this album), though their baritonal voices are surely influenced by the British movement.

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mercoledì 1 agosto 2012

LADY PANK - "LIFE IS BRUTAL" (non-album tracks 1982-86)

(Lady Pank's guitar player, Jan Borysewicz)

Second post dedicated to Lady PankIn this anthology I collected ten songs released only as singles or compilation tracks during the new wave phase of Lady Pank's career, lasted from 1982 (the year of their debut single) to 1986. 
These are ten of the best songs in Lady Pank's book and arguably in the history of Polish music.

1. Mała Lady Pank 
2. Minus 10 w Rio 
These two songs were released as Lady Pank's first single in summer 1982. Guitar player Jan Borysewicz is also the singer in "Mała Lady Pank", because Janusz Panisewicz was not in the band yet: he joined in for "Minus 10 w Rio", where he sing the chorus.

3. Tańcz głupia tańcz 
Released as a single at the end of 1982, it is one of the band's key-songs: it was the first entirely sung by Panisewicz and it opened the historical Sopot 1985 concert.

4. Augustowskie noce 
Released as a single in july 1984, this is a funny cover of Maria Koterbska's old pop-jazz hit.

5. Sztuka latania
This lyrical post-punk moment (the title means "The Theory of Flight") is possibly Lady Pank's most beautiful song. A no. 1 hit in april 1985, it also titled an important compilation album featuring Aya RL and other Nowa Fala projects.

6. Banalna rzecz, c'est la vie 
Released as part of the "Sztuka latania" compilation album.

7. Raport z N. 
8. Rysunkowa postać
This no. 1 single was released in the summer of 1985. "Rysunkowa postać" was the B-side, even though it was the most successful song.

9. Gwiazdkowe dzieci
Lady Pank's Christmas song, presented at the end of 1985.

10. Sly
This is not Lady Pank's first song in English, but while the others were all translations of their Polish hits, this is the first original one. It was released as a single in 1986. 

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lunedì 23 luglio 2012


In 1981 Piotr Mrowiński left Kryzys, being replaced by singer/guitar player Tomasz Lipiński. After this new entry the band drastically changed its direction, so founding member and composer Robert Brylewski changed the name of the project to Brygada Kryzys. 
As Kryzys, the band was not much more than a Mark Stewart's Pop Group clone. On the contrary, after the mutation they produced one of the most original albums of the Nowa Fala movement. Strong dub basslines, walls of echoed saxophone, an impressive range of guitar work (liquid delayed lines, proto-noise assaults, intricate solos), and moreover, fast rhythms that definitely moved the band away from the systematic use of stop&go rhythms of bands such as the Pop Group (the only song with a typical reggae rhythm is "Ganja", which is the least interesting one). 
The first side of the record is sung in Polish, the second one in English, and they're both brilliant.

Even though the album was able to sell 200.000 copies in a year, the band disbanded soon after. Its members have been dominating the scene in the decades to come, joining or founding bands such as Tilt, Kult, Armia, Izrael, and many more. In 1992 Lipiński and Brylewski reunited Brygada Kryzys for a second studio album (I'll post it in the future).

P.S. I always recommend to buy original albums, but I have to warn you that some CD editions of this album contain remixed versions and not the original ones, so please pay attention.

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venerdì 20 luglio 2012

AYA RL - "AYA RL" (1985)

Formed in 1983 by keyboardist Igor Czerniawski and singer Paweł Kukiz, Aya RL was one of the most important bands of Polish post-punk.
This is their debut album, a kinda bipolar work: it contains some epic pop tracks such as "Nie zostawię" and "Księżycowy krok" (with expanded guitar sounds and atmospheric keyboards), but also that terrifying elegy to city life titled "Ulice miasta" ("Here on my street, no one surprises anybody. Christ doesn't live here any more, and Satan has gone and left us to it. Here on my street, cold plays through the tenements, cold like cancer in living cells").
Aya RL released another album in 1989, but Kukiz left the band soon after, ending their adventure. In 1994 Czerniawski tried to use again the band's name and released three nonessential electronic albums.

P.S. The last three tracks were not part of the original album, but I included them because of their relevance: "Jazz" was their first single, "Oczy" was the b-side to "Księżycowy krok", "Skóra" was their biggest hit, remaining at the top of the Trójka chart for four weeks. It remains one of the most popular Polish rock songs of the 80s. The album was able to sell 90.000 copies in its first year of release, maybe a little under the expectations.

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)