domenica 27 gennaio 2013

ANGEL'S BREATH - "ANGEL'S BREATH" (1994)

In 1993 Ekatarina Velika released "Neko nas posmatra", basically an alternative rock album. Even though it generated "Anestezija", their last hit and one of their masterpieces, the album was not adventurous as usual. In order to find new sources for his creativity (and to have a little break from his anti-war activism during these years), Milan Mladenović traveled to São Paulo do Brasil, where his old friend Suba (Mitar Subotić) had lived since 1990. 
In the spring of 1994 they recorded a bunch of tracks, with the help of two local musicians (guitar player Fabio Golfetti, percussionist João Parahyba) and various background vocalists. The result of those sessions was "Angel's Breath", an out-of-this-world album which incorporated alternative rock, musica popular brasileira, Balkan folk, electronic experimentation, and guitars which vaguely reminded the style of Robert Fripp (if you really want someone to compare them with). 

Milan came back in Serbia soon after, where he unexpectedly died of pancreatic cancer at the end of the year. After his death, Ekatarina Velika officially disbanded. The other two founding members also died young: Bojan Pečar had a heart attack in 1998, Margita Stefanović died of AIDS-related complications in 2002, after some years of major depression.

Today Milan is still a music icon all around ex-Yugoslavia. Who knows which new frontiers his genius would have discovered if only he hadn't died so soon...

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mercoledì 23 gennaio 2013

EKATARINA VELIKA - "DUM DUM" (1991)

In 1991 Ekatarina Velika were an established force in the Yugoslavian music jet set. 
On this record you can perceive the darkness of the social and political situation which caused the outbreak of the War. Lyrics are more depressing than ever, generating deeply emotional songs such as the ballad "Bledo" and the anthem "Idemo"

This is the first album without Bojan Pečar on bass; he was replaced by session men Dušan Petrović (from the band Plejboj) and Bata Božanić. The basslines on this album are way distant from the post-punk style of Pečar, preferring a prosperous jazz fusion approach.
Definitely abandoning new wave and its chrisms, the band builds an unclassifiable sound. Songs are less catchy than in the past, with twisted, experimental melodies, where sometimes you can't even tell the difference between verses and refrains. Arrangements are quite rich, with piano, organ, acoustic guitars, percussions, lots of female background vocals, and threatening string sections.
By listening to these songs you can easily understand why "Dum Dum" was not as popular as "Samo par godina za nas". 


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sabato 19 gennaio 2013

EKATARINA VELIKA - "SAMO PAR GODINA ZA NAS" (1989)

The Eighties were ending, and you can perceive it on this album, where EKV started to distance themselves from their original new wave sound. Though there is still a post-punk percentage, the sound of drums is not as glossy as on their previous works, the dosage of orchestral arrangements is higher, and some female soul-influenced background vocals appear here and there. 

This was EKV's definitive blockbuster, with three songs ("Par godina za nas", "Krug", "Srce") becoming universally known hits, and others entering the circle of cult classics ("Sinhro", "Ona mi je rekla"). This is a must have for everyone who loves ex-YU rock music.

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lunedì 14 gennaio 2013

EKATARINA VELIKA - "LIVE '88"

Tracks 1-12: live in Novi Sad, 1988
Tracks: 13-14: live in Zagreb, 1988

Milan Mladenović - lead vocals, guitar
Margita Stefanović - keyboards, vocals
Bojan Pečar - bass guitar, vocals
Ivan "Firchie" Fece - drums

This beautiful live album, released in 1997 by Global Music, contains powerful versions of nearly all the best songs released by EKV until 1987. 
Some of these outclass the originals, in particular "Oči boje meda" and "Jesen", where Milan screams his soul out of his tonsils.


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lunedì 7 gennaio 2013

SERGEY KURYOKHIN - "SPARROW ORATORIUM" (1993)

Original artist name: Сергей Курёхин 

I introduced Sergey Kuryokhin three months ago, posting his soundtrack for that wonderful movie titled "Gospodin Oformitel". Now it's time to post something more.

"Sparrow Oratorium" is considered by many his strongest effort as a melodic composer. 
It is a disregarded avant-prog gem, and its stylistical variety is impressive. Kuryokhin shows once more his mastery as a keyboard player and sound crafter, with some magnificent ambient backgrounds and dynamic minimal patterns, while all around sounds explodes as fireworks: angelic vocals (mostly provided by Marina Kapuro), subtlety dissonant guitars, saxophone fanfares, ostinato strings, and electronic rhythms made by some powerful synthesizer sequences. The sweet, catchy tunes are placed somewhere between dream-pop and Eastern European folk music. 

This is such a beautiful album, you can compare it to Philip Glass, Jan Garbarek, or even Loreena McKennitt, but you'll always be distant from its real, unique sound.   


P.S. Forget the first track, "Winter", which is a simply a re-titled version of his old classic "Donna Anna", recorded in 1988. The real album starts with the second piece, "Spring"

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giovedì 3 gennaio 2013

EKATARINA VELIKA - "LJUBAV" (1987)

"Ljubav" is considered by many to be EKV's most complete studio work. Preserving the polished post-punk sound which made them famous, it includes aggressive rock numbers ("Pored mene"), atmospheric songs with epic crescendos ("7 dana", "Voda"), and unespected folk hybrids ("Zid"). 
The hit single was "Zemlja", a powerful raga-rock, but my favourite song is probably "Tonemo", where Milan Mladenović whispers his depressive lyrics over a melancholic background made of a strong acoustic guitar pattern, gentle synthesizer rushes, and some wonderful, pristine piano scales. 
Here its lyrics, translated in English.

We passed the first days of wonder, we passed the first days of stare,
I'm not here, I'm not there or here.
While I drink the juice from your eyes, while I lick the salt from your fingers,
I'm not here, I'm not there or here.

We're sinking, we're sinking.

We passed the first days of lying, we passed the first days of remorse,
I'm not here, I'm not there or here.
No, days did not wait too long, days were running and crawling and flying,
I'm not here, I'm not there or here.

We're sinking, we're sinking.


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