Shortparis come from Saint Petersburg (via Novokuznetsk, Siberia). They have the appearance of being on a serious mission. For the first seasonal (autumnal) concert which I saw in the series of concerts at the end of September and during October Shortparis set the bar very high. Fantastic! Shortparis are (already) masterful in the art of performance. They play genuine (Electro) Body Music which defies past & present pop categories. The live show became too physical at some point. It seemed so exhausting even to watch that I wished for more synth sounds / fat techno beats & less manic dancing and body movements. Amazing. Shortparis are scary as well.
Monday 30.09., KSET
Pile are modest rock band (in Capt. Beefheart tradition lately) from Boston. Their earnest songs (from couple of albums that I listened to) don’t stick in my head for some reason but I was curious enough to check them live. They were great in concert. At first I had bizarre sensation of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like I am too old. Pile didn’t disappoint thou. And I was glad in the end. New album “Green and Gray” is pretty good, especially after repeated listening.
BLACK MIDI (England), NEON LIES (Zagreb, HR)
Wednesday 02.10., Močvara
Unlike other sparsely attended concert dates in October, Močvara was packed for Black MIDI. What the fuck!? Boys were great – a tight young band with a great drummer and three reluctant vocalists – the main one mumbles nonsense, the other whispers and the third one shrieks occasionally. Black MIDI were announced like next big thing in Britain but for me personally it’s enough that they are excellent at what they do. It does not bother me that their mixture of styles is not so new. There were many American bands that played similar variants of math-rock / post-rock throughout the whole 1990s and beyond. Good news is that Black MIDI’s angularity is musical, it’s not a mere exercise in sudden breaks, complex rhythm patterns and shouting out. Surprisingly, I like art pop production (Euro touches) of the debut album despite the fact that the role of their excellent drummer was pushed too far in the background for my taste. Was too tired to be focused during crowded concert. Let the younger generations (they were present in public) have Black MIDI. I had enough.
Neon Lies synth alter ego of Goran Lautar was great.
Monday 07.10., Močvara
Had they visited Zagreb during legendary Euro Tour ’89 perhaps more people would come to greet them 30 years later. Even Girls vs. Boys pedigree didn’t help. Anyhow, Soulside played old songs in style. It sounded good (and they looked very vital). But my feet were heavy and my mind was somewhere else for some reason. I loved Soulside music in my late teens and early twenties. “Hot Body-Gram” LP still holds up. It is one of the best records from the late 1980s Dischord catalog.
Wednesday 09.10., Vintage Industrial
OK, this was a psych performance art by psychedelic rock band gone digital / minimal. Different clothes, new approaches. Transvestite style. Föllakzoid presented their latest album in entirety. Stuff that Wire magazine could like. I might check their early albums someday. Missed their concert few years ago.
TUDÓSOK (Hungary), ŽBLJ MOZAIK (Samobor, HR)
Tuesday 15.10., Močvara
Lured by jazz-punk promises and bright colors I came to see them. My fondness for Central / Eastern Europe had a role in deciding too. I didn’t even hear of Tudósok before the concert although they are a cultural institution from Budapest with roots in the 1980s Novi Sad. Shame on me! The attendance was very sad once again (cca. 25 souls) but the band can be joyful with or without their loyal public. They made my day and couple of following days as well. Truly uplifting experience of the very first order. I’ve been enlisted right there on the spot by bleating saxophones. Now I am a fan.
Žblj mozaik guitar & drums duo from Samobor provided short, fast & nice intro.
Wednesday 16.10., Močvara
One more astounding concert that reached Shortparis at the level of intensity and artistic focus. Great psychedelic metalheads Ufomammut sound better live than on records. Tender psychedelic intro disarmed me immediately. Psychosis inducing video slides in the background, perfectly synchronized with heavy metal riffs, were great visual distraction. Ufomammut really proved to be mighty power-trio. But I was simply tired if not doomed. Had to sit on the bench by the bar like an old person with wobbly legs. My very regular biorhythm is not fit for late hours entertainment. Ufomammut’s latest studio album “8” is my favorite one.
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE (Japan)
Wednesday 30.10., Tvornica kulture
As expected, Acid Mothers Temple delivered an excellent concert. I enjoyed it although I am not familiar with their music (albums). AMT hyperactive drummer reminded me of Amon Düül II’s Peter Leopold in style which is a compliment, of course. Hawkwind synth sounds burdened few songs here and there and I wished for a different pattern. Side effects of general tiredness swept me over and my naturally psychedelic mind got trapped in my painful body. Qi doesn’t flow freely up and down my spine anymore. But it will.
v.a. Zagreb 1986-90 vol III: Punk (punk rock, hardcore, pop punk, post-hardcore)
More songs about love & hate.
*subject to change*
Mid-decade (1983-85) intro:
In the 1983-84 period the third generation of punk rock bands became visible, slowly coming out of local community centers to play concerts before already established groups in the bigger clubs or on small festivals. In spite of very viral surge of UK82 hardcore which was echoing in the punk circles all around the globe at the time, only Sköl caught the hardcore bug early on. With a female singer in front line they superficially resembled Vice Squad. Actually, the band leader was guitarist Tomislav Petrlić Fix who steered group across the decade according to his urges and ideas. On the contrary Z.R.M. (Zona rane masturbacije) turned back to ’77 style (Ramones, The Adverts, The Clash) and other tuneful punk bands. Z.R.M. had feeble rhythm but their simple songs were good enough and quite catchy. Due to imminent hiatus (service in the army) Z.R.M. went into SIM studio by the end of 1984 and recorded Demo 1984.
Z.R.M. – Demo 1984
[bio bih zahvalan za kompletan Z.M.R. Demo ’84 bolje mp3 kvalitete… ]
Young punk trio Excess recorded few demo tracks in their rehearsal space in 1983. These songs have survived in a member’s archives and they reveal young band on a beaten path set by Paraf and Pankrti. Excess were not followers of hardcore UK tribes yet. Sköl and Excess broke up and with the members from both bands punk super group Blitzkrieg [bassist ex Sköl, drummer ex Excess, guitarist ex Solidarnost (from Knin)] was formed at the end of 1984. Blitzkrieg were maybe only truly active punk band that played in concert more often during 1985. Surprisingly they had very little hard core elements. Blitzkrieg sound was based on classic punk rock template with traces of street / terrace punk; closer to UK Subs than G.B.H. In a primitive 4-track studio they managed to record “weedy” sounding Demo 1985 which has been recently released by NE! Records for the first time ever.
Blitzkrieg – Demo 1985
Kipovi u sjenci
Tko je kriv?
After they had played before Angelic Upstarts & The Exploited, Blitzkrieg felt their mission was accomplished and fell apart.
Few journalistic notes from student newspapers “Polet” about inglorious atmosphere (drunk & disorderly punks gobbing on Mensi) during Angelic Upstarts concert in the spring ’85:
Monkey see, monkey do.
At the same time, during 1985 Patareni were d/evolving further their chaotic style which would eventually made them one of the grind-core trailblazers on the global cassette underground hardcore scene.
Among other lesser known punk groups in town which didn’t rise above local community center matinee were also Linija. They are important to mention because of the future roles of the band members in the second half of the 1980s. Linija were springboard for post-punk bands that would follow in their wake (Sin Albert etc.). Their singer Aleksandar Dragaš became music journalist and had a crucial role in promoting American hardcore and even more interesting post-hardcore music through fanzines and student newspapers. He also significantly contributed in building independent network at the end of the decade – “Search & Enjoy” label was founded by Dragaš and Čikara in 1990.
Sköl (1982 – 1984; 1986-1991)
Sköl reformed in 1986. New line-up recorded Demo 1986 which I’ve never heard. Debut album “Čista perverzija” on Zdenko Franjić’s pioneering independent label “Slušaj najglasnije!” was finally issued in 1990. It portrays changed band. Seven inch EP “Uzmi i reži” followed in 1991.
Ravno se drži
Z.R.M. (1982 – 1987)
After a year long pause, Z.R.M. restarted in 1986 but soon broke up for good and shape shifted into The Cretins (post-punk) and then Modesty (pop-rock), straying away from their punk rock beginnings.
Patareni (1984 – 199?)
Patareni are probably the most famous hardcore punk name from Zagreb to this day because of their super short, vulgar and utterly absurd grind-core bursts which were novelty at the time. They bonded with Ljubljana and Beograd hardcore punks at the very beginning and started tape trading communication with the global scene. Patareni didn’t leave their cellar or atomic shelter often to play in public. Buka were a better known Patareni offshoot.
Tamnichars (1984 – 199?)
Tamnichars were melodic punk rock band under the spell of ice queens and other types of elusive Eastern European girls. Their punk oeuvre was all about being tortured (and jailed) by (unrequited) love. They were nicking from The Stranglers here and there in the process of learning how to play their instruments. I don’t mind it. Tamnichars kept few decent cover versions in their repertoire and some of them ended on the records years later. The debut album “’Till the Next Goodbye” (produced in a slightly polished new wave manner) came late as an independent issue in 1990 and went away below radar. I don’t remember seeing it for sale or even marketed in the music press.
Dvorac od leda
Marliese (Fischer Z)
Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill (Hüsker Dü)
Tamnichars – Till The Next Goodbye LP (1990)
Ples i smrt i šok (The Saints)
Story Of My Life
Studeni studeni (1986 – 1991)
Initially known as The Monsters, Studeni studeni were garage punk rock band with pop leanings that worked their way to independently released debut seven inch EP in 1990. This little record with cool cover art is all about love too, not hate. One love song too many, though.
Studeni Studeni – Čisto kao suza 7″ EP (1990) Search & Enjoy 004
A ja sam je volio
Tvoje oči govore
Čisto kao suza
Generali (198? – 1990)
Hardcore band from Novi Zagreb, a new part of town situated across the river. Generali combined elements of metallic hardcore & melodic post-hardcore (under American influence) in their final years.
Demo Tape 1987-90
Koji zajeban dan
U glavi joj se sprema
Kill The Kill
Motus (Vita Est) (1988 – )
Hardcore punk group fronted by stalwart punk Rade Preradović Hogar. They were clearly influenced by UK82 bands. Fortunately, Motus kept violent impulses at bay and might have some things in common with UK anarcho punks as well. I like better samizdat debut cassette compiled from various ’88 demo sessions than vinyl debut “Cogito Aude” LP (1990) released on Austrian independent label Sacro Egoismo which suffered a bit from production. For their first concert outside the country Motus opened for Soulside (DC, USA) in Vienna in 1989.
Demo Tape 1988
Motus vita est
Šuti trpi radi
Živjela sloboda stvaranja
Hladno pivo (1988 – )
Für immer punks from the western city suburbs have become most popular rock band with punk rock roots, along their older colleagues Psihomodo pop. Verbose and energetic frontman Mile Kekin was born in Germany and spent part of his childhood in Bosnia before coming to Zagreb as a teenager which altogether reflected in his authorship. His story telling could be seen as continuation of Sarajevo’s New Primitives tradition (Zabranjeno pušenje, Elvis J. Kurtović & His Meteors) carried on the riffs of melodic punk rock so common in Zagreb. Demo Tape 1991collected first batch of songs from 1989-90 which were later rerecorded for the debut album, the first milestone in the longest running punk rock career in Zagreb.
v.a. Zagreb [1986-90] vol II: Art [ethnic forgeries, avant pop, free jazz, jazz pop, art rock, noise rock, pop rock]
*subject to change*
Brojani (1985 – 1987)
Srđan Sacher’s main band after he had left Haustor. The first version of Brojani were Haustor rhythm section (Sacher & Gulić) with Nebojša Stijačić (band leader of Cinkuši) as guitarist. The second version split up in two directions / groups: Waitapu and Vještice.
Cul-de-Sac I (1986 – 1991)
Free improvisation group founded by late Dragan Pajić (guitar) and Damir Prica (sax; ex Haustor, ex Tkp) with a revolving door of musicians from Zagreb. By the 1991 they recorded few cassettes and one of them was “The End Of The World And Other Songs (Including Hit Single)” issued by FV založba in 1989. The Zagreb-Amsterdam-Zagreb anthology (1987-2006) titled “L’Equipe Extraordinaire” (2xLP) has been issued through Dirty Old Label this year. Rhythm & sound (noise) for cleansing mind & soul.
Other Songs (Including Hit Single)
The End Of The World
Dee Dee Mellow (1987-1989)
Jazzy trip initiated by Jurij Novoselić (alt sax; ex Film) and then fully realized with Srđan Sacher (bass player; ex Haustor) and Srđan Gulić (drummer; ex Haustor). Their repertoire consisted of jazz standards covers, reinterpretation of world music songbook and few original songs. FV založba opened collaboration with new bands on Zagreb’s “scene” with Dee Dee Mellow “Live” (1988) tape. Working in parallel with other bands, sax player and drummer joined Disciplina kičme (Belgrade) while bassist left his band Brojani to dedicate more time in newly formed Vještice.
Dee Dee Mellow
Kruha i jogurta
Ozo spi (cover of Hungarian folk song)
Waldorf (mid 1980s – 1990)
Kindergarten funk mixed with white noise or something like that? Regression into unbridled childhood? Don’t know yet. Various Artists “Ča je život vengo fantažija” (Search & Enjoy, tape, 1994) would help but it’s not at my disposal. Waldorf participated at YURM ’85 festival.
Sin Albert (1985-1990)
Some sort of arty rock band with post-punk foundations fronted by guitarist Daniel Šuljić. Before breaking up they recorded few songs in the studio which were issued by “Search & Enjoy”, new independent publisher in town. Sin Albert are dry sounding and swift but somehow tired too on their eponymous debut. It does sound like they are singing themselves to sleep through Velvet Underground lazy vibes but one can discern kinetic potential locked in. I should hear samples from their earlier work to get a better picture.
Sin Albert – Sin Albert (1990) 7″ EP
Ja želim čuti
Tri mala dodira
Short-lived post-punk band comprised of two bass players and a drummer. They hardly left their rehearsal space in 1989. However, the members were present on the fluctuating “scene” before and after Boxer. Bassist Josip Suić joined Phantasmagoria and Svadbas, drummer/vocalist Robert Bušić (ex Sin Albert) later played with Brujači and Kojoti & bassist/vocalist Hrvoje Crnić collaborated with performance group Montažstroj and soon started to compose music for theater/film. Boxer managed to record few demo songs during their brief existence which I quite like so here they are – tracks from the attic:
The House Painters (mid 1980s – 1990)
Funkified art-rock or just modern pop band. Don’t judge them by cassette cover. The House Painters don’t sound like The Smiths. Talking Heads were one of the starting points regarding their possible influences. More I listen to The House Painters more I like ’em, especially guitar parts. The vocals are too high in the mix for my own aural pleasure but what the heck. “Music For Leopold IV” tape in format of an imaginary mini-LP:
A side: SIM Studio ’87
Paint The World
B side: TROOLY Studio ’89
I Woke Up In A World Of Light
Waitapu (1987 – 1990)
Waitapu, led by guitarist Hrvoje Danilović, continued creating and refining sophisticated pop music influenced by reggae & afro-pop from the point where his previous band Brojani arrived at. They did record studio material but being a perfectionist, the guitarist destroyed all the master tapes. So the story goes… I am intrigued.
SexA II (1988 – 1991)
Lustful noise-rock boars on the prowl – live in Galerija SC on a lovely late spring evening. Tender mating calls (with the occasional grunts) in the din of thick sounding electric guitar. “No Sleep ‘Till Pussy / Fuck Piction” vinyl debut was issued by Idle Valley / FV Založba at the same time as release of this tape.
Vještice (1987 – 1996)
Three-headed band comprised of members from Azra (drummer Leiner), Film (guitarist Juričić) and Haustor (bassist Sacher) moving up and towards the light, and out of the blind alley via recording deal with a “major” label. In 1989 Jugoton issued their debut album “Totalno drukčiji od drugih” – distillation of world music / folk / ethno influences into optimistic pop-rock which appealed to a larger audience. Small independent publisher from Osijek “Plavi pilot” somehow managed to release their second album “Bez tišine!”. Remain in light!
Cul-de-Sac’s music is based on improvisation, with elements of free improvised music, free jazz, noise, avant rock, electronica and contemporary music. Sometimes it is structured and very often it is completely improvised.
Cul-de-Sac was formed by Dragan Pajić – Pajo (el. guitar, effects) and Damir Prica Kafka – Capri (reeds, keyboard) in 1986 in Zagreb. The first line up included Predrag Dubravčić (drums) and Nino Markovac (bass). From 1987 to 1991 the group was joined by Igor Pavlica (trumpet), Neven Jurić – Nenchi (f. horn), Mario Barišin – Bara (bass), Ivan Marušić – Klif (drums), Darko Rundek (bass, effects) and Nikola Santro (trombone). Visual artists Nicole Hewitt and a little later Nikola Vincelj – Jinks worked with Cul-de-Sac, Hewitt producing posters and tape covers, and Jinks creating slides, posters, tape and CD covers.
During that period Cul-de-Sac published few audio cassete tapes and made the soundtracks for Nicole Hewitt’s films “Herman’s Burden” and “Notes of continuity”, and for two of Boris Matas’ films “Mr. Elliott trip” and “Transplanta”; as well as collaborating on projects with D.B Indoš House of Extreme Music and the contemporary dance group Gesta.
Cul-de-Sac performed concerts in Zagreb, Belgrade, Ljubljana, Copenhagen and Berlin. The last performance of the original line up took place in June 1991 on the balcony of the skyscraper on the main square in Zagreb. A few months later war broke out in the former Yugoslavia.
From 1993 to 2000 Cul-de-Sac worked in Amsterdam and played in a formation of duo or trio with Ivan Marušić – Klif (drums), and Andreja Košavić (vocals, trumpet), as well collaborating with Nikola Vincelj – Jinks who created posters and covers for CDs and slide shows for the gigs. At this time Cul-de-Sac became part of the improvised and experimental music scene in Amsterdam and played in clubs and venues like :“OCCII”, “Villa Omval”, “Dijk Theater”, “Gallery W 139”, “Vrij media cafe”, “Entrepotdok”, “Zaal 100” and in the squat “Tacheles” in Berlin (1993).
After his return to Zagreb in 2000, Pajo and the long term members of the group got together with a younger generation of musicians and Cul-de-Sac evolved into a large collective Cul-de-Sac Accelerated Evolution Orchestra, including sometimes up to 20 musicians. In recent years the Orchestra has performed at the No Jazz festival Žedno uho and the festival of Contemporary music Showroom of Contemporary Sound in Zagreb, as well as performing in Austria (Klagenfurt), Bosnia (Sarajevo Winter Festival), Macedonia (Prilep Jazz Weekend 2015 and Gevgelija Bosh Festival) and Serbia (31st Belgrade Jazz Festival).
Dragan Pajić – Pajo died on the 23rd of February 2014. Pajo was one of the first improvising musicians in the region. His musical influence on the experimental and improvised music scene is great, and he has left behind himself a large musical legacy.
Cul-de-Sac Accelerated Evolution Orchestra has continued playing after Pajo’s early demise as nonet.
Te večeri spika nam je bila malo bezveze
Bio je to više strah od šutnje
Rastali smo se ispred kućnog broja 8
Najduže ulice u našem gradu
Krenuo sam kroz pasaž, čitaonica Britanskog konzulata bila je zatvorena
Dvorišna zgrada, KUD Pavao Markovac, scenska grupa, događanja
Mračno, memljivo i erotski vlažno
I glas Nade Subotić s prvog kata:”Hajde, idi, kreni”
Ali kuda, kamo, kuda
Kad je sve oko mene
Kad je oko mene sve
Halo!? Centar za krizna stanja?
Koga sam dobio? Sestru Margaretu?
Kako što mi je? Pa ja sam u slijepoj ulici!
Here is an incomplete review of the second half of the “dark decade” in pop & rock music from Zagreb. Retrospectively exciting in its own ephemeral way.
*subject to change*
Open the box. Release the bats! Release the moths!
v.a. Zagreb [1986-90] vol I: Dark [dark wave, goth (rock), dark psychedelic rock, electronic music, EBM, cold wave, ethereal]
Phantasmagoria (1988 – )
Phantasmagoria, loved or hated Goth princes of Zagreb, are the sole survivalists despite the periods of inactivity and surprisingly little recorded material. Mastermind in the band, young punk rocker Tomi E. Šega (ex Eksodus), had chosen path of “positive punk” which led him to Leeds and right into the heart of everlasting phantasmagoria. These baby steps along the rhythm machine beats are not bad at all. Much better than I remembered. Phantasmagoria won YURM ’90 in category of best new “alternative rock” band.
Demonstration tapes (1988-89)
Grad tihog očaja
Ja gledam svojim očima
Poziv u raj 2
Lepra (mid 1980s – 1990)
Madness. I know almost nothing about Lepra. But I was pleasantly surprised when I heard them for the first time. They are represented with two wildest tracks on “041 Compilation” tape, the only officially issued document that gathered all these bands except Phantasmagoria. Rock critic and promoter Siniša Bizović (editor / compiler of the previously mentioned various artists tape in 1989 & rock festivals organizer nowadays) was a band member at some point.
Endymion (1988 – 90)
Scènes de la vie future (second demo tape, recorded in ’89)
Endymion were dark psychedelic rock band that connected rock foundations from ’69 with pop stylings of ’89. Songwriting (as well as unabashed love of Detroit rock city) was shared between two brothers: remarkable guitarist Igor Polak & bassist Goran “Stražarni lopov” Polak. The dark rock machine eventually accelerated and started to roll. After couple of demo tapes the new studio material was recorded, the interested publisher in Germany was found and then… something bad happened. The electric guitar was the lead instrument in Endymion.
The Man With The Golden Eyes
I Have Control
She’s Only Sleeping
Something’s Gonna Happen (live)
Short lived and forgotten band that cherished ethereal goth vibes channeled through female singer.
The Autumn Song
Nezaboravan san o… (mid 1980s – 1990)
Nezaboravan san o… (demo tape)
Electronic heart throbs and tears. Without glamorous black eyeliner and red lippy. Stripped bare. With tastefully applied wailing of electric guitar. Transcending the inner void. Cold and indifferent Zagreb of the very late 1980s didn’t give a damn. Aura of Nezaboravan san o… has left lasting impression on my fragile mind when I finally listened to complete demo tape few years ago. So they’ve become unforgettable.
Trajanja (grad obojen ledom)
Noći bez jutra
Lamenti blijedih zora
Jozo oko Gospe (mid 1980s – 1989)
Promising electronic duo / project Jozo oko Gospe left legacy of only two recorded and officially released demo tracks, one is terrible and the other is terrific. Breathe in. Breathe out and say Om! If you meet the Buddha on the path of least resistance, just knock him out. Say Ohm! Ω
Various Artists (from Zagreb) – 041 Compilation Tape – FV založba, Ljubljana (1989)
Ljubljana cared if totally disorganized Zagreb didn’t. Thank you FV Založba! Enthusiastic individuals like Dubravko Jagatić cared, of course. He put fair amount of his energy / love in what he did as radio host and booking agent in the second half of the 1980s. His radio-show “Sve prije vinila”, aired on Zagreb’s best radio station “Radio 101” was big support for local demo scene. Electronic duo Ivor The Lord were initially planned for inclusion but due to unfortunate circumstances they missed the chance. In an alternative universe this might have been a very nice vinyl document from 1989, with two tracks by each band.
Crisis! “Crna ruža” (“Black Rose” Sect) or the Socialist Youth in the Dark
Is Zagreb still a city of quiet desperation? (grad tihog očaja)
Virgo season. Summer is coming to an end. Discarded knickers drifting away from the Central Blackpool Pier, just about to sink to the sea bottom…
Allora, where have proper seasons gone? Central European continental belt, where Zagreb lies and belongs, obviously lost them. The varied beauty of temperate climate with distinct four seasons started to fade two decades ago. God damn the Sun. God damn the naked apes. What nature gives, nature takes away. And what about (The) Membranes? After having orbited in the cold black space for couple of years, old codgers fell from the dark skies & landed on Earth (North England, Blackpool). Unrelenting bassist & band leader John Robb knows no obstacles. „What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away“ is a double album comprised of dark side tunes with different emotional resonance (what was previously grief after the loss of father & contemplation on mortality and miraculous origin of life, now is concern for primordial mother). At the first look the songs may seem loosely connected in a conceptual manner reminiscent of prog-rock excesses. But the fundamental quality of the new record is closer to late ’70s British art-rock tradition. The prominent role of bass guitar, implementation of dub techniques in the studio & immersion in Gothic imagery come from post-punk past times. And the alchemy of all the elements is pure the 21st century Membranes: Nick Brown – guitar and keyboards, Peter Byrchemore (ex The Nightingales) – guitar & Rob Haynes (ex Gold Blade) – drums. The choir inclusion would be a real surprise if they hadn’t worked with them in concerts on different occasions in recent years. „What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away“ is certainly their most grandiose recording up to date. Is this The Membranes’ crown achievement? Time will tell. They’ve kept their mature inspiration in enviable form, only the psychedelic dressing applied is earthier and in abundance. There are no songs that I’d recognize as “filler”. In overall the sequence works fine and keeps my attention from start to finish. The mournful guitar melodies (e.g. What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away, Deep In The Forest Where Memories Linger) are my current favorites. It’s important to mention that Membranes are great live band. I was lucky to have watched them in concert when they promoted “Dark Matter / Dark Energy”; as “a last minute” opening act they played before Gang of Four in Zagreb. Keep your eye on their tour dates.
Ciao cari amici. This film is a masterpiece, no less. A DVD copy was lent to me as a recommendation and then it sat in a drawer in the office at work for weeks, if not for months. I’ve finally watched it this weekend. Hahahaha. *cough cough cough*. Terrifying scenes. I am going to abstain from having a mobile phone for a year at least. Io sopravviverò. Saluti!
The end of ’18 also brought three outstanding albums that I’ve listened to in this year. They shouldn’t be left behind unmentioned.
Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death in Meatspace
Believe the (moderate) hype in this case. The festering psychedelic quality of “Laughing Death in Meatspace” deserves praises heaped upon it. It sounds mesmerizing despite being unpleasant and toxic in essence. — Losing your mind on the porch in hot and humid Australian weather unable to move, with worn out and scratched Neil Young & Crazy Horse records as only company (There are old Buffalo albums in the cupboard too, but you haven’t had enough energy for that kind of blues / doom for ages). — The visions of Gareth Liddiard are respected here. He could be one of the four honorary evangelists for this blog column.
You Let My Tyers Down
A Laughing Death In Meatspace
Wax Chattels – Wax Chattels
Just a thousand miles down south-east, in subtropical Auckland, youngsters flocked together in a power (NRG) trio of a different kind (bass / organ / drums). Such band format is not really extraterrestrial but it is uncommon and thusly more interesting. How many more great (debut) albums from Southern Hemisphere. Fantastic! Rated X.
In My Mouth
The Nightingales – Perish The Thought
I could easily recommend any of their post-reformation albums, not only “Perish The Thought”. Perhaps The Nightingales require few introductory lines. In the previous century they started as young ’76 punks from Birmingham (City of Black Sabbath) called The Prefects. Alongside Robert LLoyd as frontman, brothers Alan and Paul Apperley were crucial and lasting players in the band. The comparisons with The Fall are inevitable but The Nightingales obviously didn’t have work ethic on the same level as them. The three studio albums issued in the period 1982-85 are genuine post-punk / pub-rock classics, platinum certified on John Peel Show. The Nightingales’ German patron saint was Faust (rather than Can). After having been dormant for many years The Nightingales re-appeared in early 21st century and here they are with the latest line-up: Andreas Schmid as bassist and studio engineer, Fliss Kitson on drums / vocals and the new guitarist James Smith recently replacing Alan Apperley. As an uninformed and out of time person, I missed The Nightingales when they played in a lovely old fashioned club in Austrian village Ebensee few years ago. I also could not reach Belgrade nor Budapest last November. I wish I’d been there or some place else where they were touring. Give ’em a chance, and if you like their pop art you can buy their records (and CDs) or simply offer them drinks after the show. In an Austrian Gasthaus or an English pub, old man pop star Robert Lloyd is a people person. And the band plays on… Cheers.
Intro (from “Mind Over Matter” (2015)):
Perish The Thought (2018):
Enemy Of Promise
I’m A People Person
I am being loyal and boring again. What can I do? No time to mess around. Serious reviews of all these brand new albums you can read in proper English elsewhere on the infinite internet. This is not a “best of selection”, just a list of almost all records from ’19 that I’ve heard so far.
Test Dept. – Disturbance
Construction time again? Of course that Test Dept. went digital / techno right after the Thatcher era. Who needed metal / manual workers in post-industrial neoliberal Britain or anywhere else in EU for that matter. Do they owe them a living? Of course, they fucking do! Industrial culture is not luxury. “Disturbance” as a whole is a fine protest album with seething anger kept in check.
Speak Truth To Power
Sleaford Mods – Eton Alive
Well, since I’ve recently accommodated Pet Shop Boys (in the format of cheap ugly plastic compact diskettes on the CD shelves), there’s no reason not to support Sleaford Mods and buy their own vinyl products [Extreme Eating Records]. Hoarding stuff, it’s a sin! Unlike PSB, SM are minimal synth pop duo that mastered dirty language of POP (with plenty of local references which are hardly understandable to foreigners like me). Singer usually attacks in disgust, spewing venomous words at fake posturing and overwhelming stupidity. And with very special pleasure, at the R’n’R icons from the past! Change has come with “Eton Alive”.
The Young Gods – DATA Mirage Tangram
Swiss Air night flight. Mind numbed with whisky. Chill out grooves and nice guitar playing obscure traces of apprehension. What will come next?
Entre en matière
Figure sans nom
All My Skin Standing
Mekons – Deserted
I & I feel deserted while suffering series of heat waves in the big city, dragging overheated body through the dusty streets and hiding from the burning sun. Of all music only roots reggae (with small doses of funk & West Coast psychedelia added) can help I & I live through the hottest months of prolonged summers. As a matter of fact, music by The Mekons is a potent remedy too. During their latest joyful gathering Mekons even brought the rain upon the desert. I (♥) Mekons. Cheers.
Into The Sun
Lawrence of California
Sunn O))) – Life Metal
Between Sleipnir’s Breaths
Earth – Full Upon Her Burning Lips
A Wretched Country Of Dusk
Saint Vitus – Saint Vitus
Scarred tissue all over but the vital force is still with them. Don’t worry, Saint Vitus are not zombies. Not yet. Original hard & heavy singer Scott “White Stallion” Reagers rejoined after Scott “Wino” Weinrich had left the band again. Great album.
12 Years In The Tomb
Hey Colossus – Four Bibles
This English modern rock band from the weird side of Great Britain is a fairly new name for me. But they struck a chord with me immediately through their previous album “The Guillotine”. [in the period between these two albums I checked Hey Colossus discography backwards album by album (studio stuff only) and reached “Happy Birthday”. and I wasn’t disappointed. they range from very good to great!] I didn’t expect any new recording thinking that Hey Colossus were over & out. And here they come. Eerie.
Babes Of The Plague
Drahla – Useless Coordinates
Useless!? The debut album by Drahla is very inspired interpretation of tired and often predictable post-punk formula. Sax (art) punk does me good. After half an hour of their music I am truly energized and stimulated for more. Erase Errata used to produce similar effect on me. Bravo!
React / Revolt
Stimulus For Living
Bill Callahan – Shepard In A Sheepskin Vest
What a breezy summertime double album! Unreal. Bill Callahan is an inexhaustible songwriter. So many things (albums) happened along the way. The scenes from the life of young artist — e.g. “37 push ups in winter rate motel (while listening to “Highway To Hell”)” — seem to belong not only to his distant past but a previous lifetime. That black dog could be a restless and shaggy Croatian sheepdog. For better or for worse, harmless and healing sunshine for all (and a clear body of water for me).