Mark E Smith, “The Year Of The Toadies”
New Musical Express, 12/1983
THIS YEAR, the group that sneers at laughing fate, broke down in a quaint place three kilometres outside Dachau for five days skint and starved escaping only through the use of a bogus credit card to get to Yugoslavia, not worth it at all despite what these leftist musicians say. (Of course gigs are packed!) Returned home to bankrupt record co. then slipped again into a more sinister one. Went abroad and developed xenophobia. Marriage saved vocalist’s neck. Attacked for tax. Spurned retrospect. future very bright, hiding retirement. Now number 6, age average 22.5.
OTHERWISE, it’s the cyclical tone of 1983 that strikes me the most. Viewed through miserable eyes, much familiarity here: Music Vaudeville still. Manned as ever by cockney musicians in disguise, supplemented by Lancashire-Scotch deserters. But there’s more to it. Loads of crafted ‘good pop’ lyrics, Serious, Pal, in their statement of non-conviction in this living desert etc. but subtly appealing to humanity in the same way as a hospital does. Nothing new, except this is of groups’ own accord! So, I have to proclaim 1983-THE YEAR OF THE TOADIES. A good laugh though was seeing all the serious/literal musicians go ‘Lite’ (in wake of lager and cigarettes) as the scrambling for market position heated up. A musical version of the GOD-JOB Interviewer hoax practiced on schools TV – i.e. declining market etc. look at so & so, he did it – this paid off to ‘those concerned.’ Competition fierce, and groups as clean and accommodating as never before! Independent labels feel secure enough to pick, choose and shove around even. Early senile fantasies of groups sure to be quenched for their staff, who’re comfy in the knowledge that the Y.T.S. of rock is the Soviet conscription-well of GB.
More disturbing was this panic hitting journalist too – semi established hacks and even their betters fighting for and adopting name scattering with redick prose, bruise purple and its insecurity. Smash Hits realise this I think.
Also funny is the proliferation of faggots in the top pop lot. I have a theory that this is due to AIDS scare, resulting in said groups having more energy derived from celibacy.
Be seeing you.
A prompting Xmas to our friends.
MARK E. SMITH (for THE FALL)
If the beginning of ’17 brought new album by Trobecove krušne peći then we can gently end the year with unexpected return (with LP album as extra surprise) of Brujači (Buzzers), led by legendary TKP bassist Mario Barišin – Bara. The current lineup consists of Zagreb’s guitarist (on hire!?) Franjo Glušac (ex Peach Pit) & drummer Viktor Krasnić who also plays in band Šumski. Glušac’s playing style evolved over the years under the influence of virtuoso/avant noise-rock guitarists and it changes the concept of original Brujači as double bass band. Bara’s bass buzzing appears in different styles from song to song but the album as a whole is well-rounded and appropriately recorded in the studio. Today’s version of Brujači gathers Zagreb rock musicians from different generations who found common language, developed interplay and successfully captured it on “Ladanje” (Dirty Old Label / Geenger Records, 2017). Will they develop it further? Since this tribute website is a small niche that bridges past times & elusive present (or postpunk decade & mature stages of long-lived resilient bands / musicians still active today), inclusion of “Ladanje” somehow fits as the album pick for December. Basslines as lifelines. Pođimo na selo…
Da li znaš?
A cup of tea and semi-acoustic stroll for a Sunday morning…
Last year Freaks R Us (The Pop Group themselves) re-issued “For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?” (1980/2016) which was far too long out of print. They didn’t stick to the song sequence of the original album: “One Out Of Many” track is out, “We Are All Prostitutes” single is now in. I won’t miss the former much – it would have worked better as B-side material even first time around (for example “Forces of Oppression” could have been A-side of never planned single). Freaks R Us really could have included both songs and added other time period related songs for the CD issue thou. CD format easily tolerates extra minutes of music. Anyway, in many cases I liked the record industry practice (or wish of the artists) in UK which kept strong (lead) single separate from the album, as had happened with fiery “She’s Beyond Good And Evil” single & “Y” LP the year before.
For the purpose of refreshed listening experience I’ve also re-imagined this album as 8-song mini LP (cut at 45 RPM!):
A2 Blind Faith
A3 How Much Longer
A4 There Are No Spectators
B1 Forces Of Oppression
B2 Feed The Hungry
B4 Rob A Bank
A We Are All Prostitutes
B Amnesty International Report
Boys (still teenagers!) from Bristol didn’t like to be pigeonholed. They did hate word “rock” and what it had represented in their minds. With fucking passion! Were they good at it? Brilliant! Kudos. “For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?” (1980) album is as good as “Y” (1979) and as relevant today as it was almost four decades ago.
Boys Next Door (the Birthday Party), the Reactionaries (Minutemen) & perhaps Šarlo akrobata and Trobecove krušne peći from around these parts, among many other bands and music fans all around the world were in total awe!
Remind yourself of The Pop Group greatness and support the recent re-issue from Freaks R Us. Every record shop in town should have The Pop Group in stock for the sake of mental health of the dwindling new generations interested in groundbreaking and mind-blowing music. “For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?” is a cultural treasure in pop (!?) music. The tags and genre classifications are arbitrary here anyhow.
The last album “Honeymoon On Mars” (2016) ended up a victim of the studio approach in pop song-craft with too many unnecessary layers of electronic sounds, overdubs and banal samples. A step back from unexpected and decent (but symptomatically slicked) return with “Citizen Zombie”. Symbolic opposition and defiant stance would work better in live context (in studio controlled environment) in my humble opinion. I definitely like a poke of straight forward electronic tracks (e.g. “Zipperface”) but the album as a whole may be experienced as continuation of Mark Stewart’s solo albums rather than The Pop Group album. Listening to “Honeymoon On Mars” is like waiting in vain for the vital electricity of simple guitar/bass/drums setup (with a touch of electronica) to surface and rip up overbearing and predictable digital everything of everyday existence. No sweat and other body fluids on the bed sheets in the end. I wish that the sound aesthetic of this particular recording were in total opposite to the intentionally repulsive and frightening cover art. Nice effort thou. What I want I could get in concert, I guess.
For how much longer do we tolerate mass murder?
Until the bitter end. It seems.
“History doesn’t repeat itself, man always does.” – Voltaire
(via David Peace)
Well, obviously Unsane cannot be killed easily. They are like the city pest they summoned for the previous album “Wreck” (2012). Impossible to shake them off and get rid of them. And there’s no reason for that because Unsane excelled on “Sterilize”. Alongside self-titled debut (1991) and “Scattered, Smothered & Covered” (1995) this would be my favorite Unsane album.
Electric Wizard surprised me as well. I was bored with sprawling tedium of “Time to Die” (2014) and almost wrote them off. I was wrong. “Wizard Bloody Wizard” is brief and lean appearance for Electric Wizard standards, and indifferently evil as always. In the meantime I’ve also realized that I like Electric Wizard more than Sleep. I am especially fond of the second line-up with Lady Buckingham as additional guitarist.
(lately I’ve been reading the Red Riding 1974-1977-1980-1983 Quartet by David Peace, and although the background soundtrack for “1980” is comprised of Throbbing Gristle, Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, The Pop Group, Cabaret Voltaire, Whitehouse etc., these two recent bloody albums have similar impact on my twitching nerves)
We are fucked. See you in Hell.
Podržite zagrebačku grupu Šumski
u izdavanju novog albuma “Ostrvo ledenog kita”!
Vol VII: Rock and Pop Music in Skopje in the 1980s
*subject to change*
This far away ex Socialist Republic was/is situated deeper in the Balkans where Byzantine ways of singing and chanting have persevered in liturgy. Skopje, the capitol city, was hit by powerful earthquake in 1963 and rebuilt in steel and concrete. So, despite relatively sunny climate and warmhearted folk, one could find just enough Socialist gray areas even down there. Well, I can only guess. Macedonia as a land is usually (and superficially) associated with red vine, mutton, blood red poppies & jazz-rock virtuoso Vlatko Stefanovski’s band Leb i sol whose rise to fame progressed in parallel with the new wave happenings. Although Makedonija very often brings in mind sunshine too, where those rock generations really children of sun (Deca sunca) or darkness? It might seem like the majority of them were children (youth) of God: post-punk (or dark-wave or Gothic) bands that operated like mystic sects branched from Macedonian Orthodox Church – bringing religious Sunday school out of the half-secret parochial classes to the Electric Church and rock stages across the country to amplify their beliefs.
The earliest Macedonian punk and new wave bands didn’t leave official recordings behind. As usual they probably lived fast and died too early or transformed into something else. In general, Macedonian artistic spirit of mid 1980s struck a chord with dark wave.
Since I am not that much familiar with the history of rock and pop music from Skopje and SR Macedonia, beside obvious punk rock or post-punk names (Badmingtons, Bastion, Padot na Vizantija, Mizar etc.), here’s the segment from Wikipedia as a brief overview:
The late 1970s saw the emergence of punk rock. The first punk rock band was Fol jazik, formed in Skopje in 1978. During the 1980s other notable punk groups were Saraceni and Badmingtons, both led by Vladimir Petrovski Karter. Later he switched to a more mainstream sound and formed the group Aleksandar Makedonski.
The new wave scene featured artists such as the ska group Cilindar, Usta na usta and Tokmu taka. Tokmu taka’s vocalist Ljupčo Bubo Karov from Kavadarci later became popular as an actor of the comedy TV show K-15, while Usta na usta’s member Aleksandar Prokopiev became a prominent writer. Another influential band was Bon Ton Bend with Dario Pankovski, who released many hits of new wave music.
The synthpop trio Bastion which featured Kiril Džajkovski was one of the most important 1980s acts. Another notable 1980’s act was Haos in Laos (allegedly in a sort of New Romantic style). The pop-rock group Memorija formed in 1984 was one of the most prosperous from this period. The most productive in the country was the post-punk, darkwave and gothic rock scene which included the cult bands Mizar, Arhangel and Padot na Vizantija, the latter led by Goran Trajkoski. Later he formed the neo-folk group Anastasia which became internationally acclaimed with its soundtrack for the Milčo Mančevski’s Academy Award nominated film Before the Rain.
Notable heavy metal artists were the groups Karamela and Concorde, the latter being remembered for their more radio-friendly hit “Visoki štikli i crni čorapi” (“High Heels and Black Stockings”). Its guitarist Venko Serafimov later started a successful solo career.
Noќ nad Makedonija (1981-90)
The very beginning (1980-83) of the dark decade in rock in Macedonia remained mainly undocumented and the scarce demo recordings seem to be lost for good.
Početok i kraj 1983-86
Badmingtones (ex Fol jazik, ex Saraceni) (1983-86) fronted by ever-present punker V.P. Karter played slightly melodic punk-rock throughout the mid decade and even managed to leave a demo tape behind. Now very rare, it consists of earlier recordings done in their own studio and three tracks recorded in professional studio of RTV Skopje in 1985. Their basic punk-rock sound was enriched with electric organ on studio material.
Bastion was yet another smooth ex-YU synth pop combo: drum machine, fretless bass, synths and baby doll singing in Serbian (then known as Serbo-Croatian – the official language in Yugoslavia). The trio was formed in 1983 by Ana Kostovska (vocalist), Kiril Džajkovski (keyboards) and Ljubomir Stojsavljević (bass guitar). The author of their lyrics was the internationally acclaimed film director Milčo Mančevski, at that time a correspondent of the magazines Džuboks. He was also a director of their music video for the song “Hot day in Mexico”. It’s a shame that at least one single track on their only record was not sung in Macedonian. Anyhow, Bastion had smashing times turning Skopje into bright lights big city LA. I remain emotionally reserved to some degree but can understand appeal, there is some beauty in delicate fragility of Bastion’s almost minimal approach. Synth-pop fans that dig albums by Talas (BG), Videosex (LJ) or Denis & Denis (RI) should check it out. The original copies of “Bastion” (1984) issued by PGP RTB are fetching silly prices nowadays.
Energetic post punk (via Echo and the Bunnymen, U2 or Comsat Angels) of short-lived Padot na Vizantija (ex Afektiven naboj) was documented only on a couple of studio/live demo tracks scattered as appearances on three cassette releases (various artists compilations). They split up too soon and freed space for powerful gothic rock delivered by post-JNA Mizar or Mizar II. However, Padot na Vizantija toured a bit in their short lifetime and even participated at YURM ’85 festival in Zagreb where they got excellent reviews. If they had managed to record and issue debut album in ’85 it would fit nicely in dark-wave post-punk albums series championed by this blog/site. Padot na Vizantija anthology has been issued by NE! Records this year.
Gradot e nem (1986-90)
Mizar II put out two critically acclaimed goth rock albums before the official end of Yugoslavia. The self-titled debut “Mizar” (1988) would be the most important record from Macedonia from the 1980s (if we put Leb i sol albums in separate category). I used to think that the sophomore effort “Свјат Dreams 1762 – 1991” (1991) was significantly inferior but now I realize that I was wrong – it has its own strong points. I can be fussy only about the clean production on both, as usually.
Aporea (aka Apokrifna realnost) self-released religiously (spiritually) themed vintage industrial tape “Na rekah vavilonskih” in 1988. The material was recorded after Padot na Vizantija had disbanded, sometime in the between the fall of ’85 and winter of ’88.
Lola V. Stain recorded two albums of ambiental music before crucial member Zlatko Origjanski joined Anastasia. The debut “Ikona” (1990) issued for an independent label from Zagreb (Blind Dog Records) is comprised of two long multi-part atmospheric instrumentals: “Makova polja” & “Rani jadi”. These two complex songs are structured from the interchangeable variations based on either bagpipes, traditional ethnic drum (tapan) or a jazzy psychedelic theme.
Anastasia started as collaboration of musicians from Padot na Vizantija, Aporea and Mizar who composed atmospheric music influenced by Macedonian folk and Byzantine church music. This lineage also represents specific artistic vision of Goran Trajkoski that had started with punk band Afektiven naboj. The first EP “Na rjekah vavilonskih” was released as 12’’ record in 1990. It was introduction of sorts for the film soundtrack “Before the Rain” that would become international hit few years later.
Arhangel was Macedonian alternative rock band formed in 1989 by Risto Vrtev (the first vocalist in original Mizar). Their debut album was recorded during last days of Yugoslavia and even pressed in Zagreb by Jugoton in 1991. However, as an active rock band, Arhangel have been more significant for post YU Macedonia.
As an exception to the “rule” and due to the scarcity of recorded Macedonian bands I’ll add Telo-nauka sovršena who were actually living far away from Skopje – they came from a small town Struga (as local punk band Afektiven naboj). I quite like material from their only official release – tape “Kadis” (1988, SKC Niš) but not so much some sound production choices. Like Mizar, Telo-nauka sovršena often sound better to me live than in studio. One can here ghosts of Joy Division [unknown pleasures] or early New Order buried in the hiss and flutter of an old cassette tape. Never heard earliest recorded material (pre “Kadis”), if it really exists in any format.
I am going to end retrospective tripping on ex YU music with this post and take a small imaginary vacation at some fancy resort on the lake of Ohrid. Seeping cold juice under a huge parasol listening to Bastion would make me good now on the verge of winter. I am kidding comrades! I need to spend some quiet time as a recluse contemplating and meditating in a remote Macedonian monastery (without holy scriptures of any kind, of course). OK, I am leaving you with Mizar, not in misery. Godspeed!
The First Two Revelations of Mizar (from a great Wikipedia entry)
Mizar (Macedonian: Мизар [miˈzar]) is a Macedonian rock band from Skopje. They achieved a status of a cult band, especially in Macedonia and across the Western Balkans.
The group is notable for its first self-titled album, as it was the first popular music in Western Balkans record in Macedonian language. The album was a major success and it is listed among the top ten rock albums ever released in Western Balkans.
Mizar was formed in 1981 in the then Socialist Republic of Macedonia. Because of the band’s avant-garde sound and image, its Christian leanings and support for Macedonian self-determination, they were viewed with certain degree of suspicion by the former authorities. Still, the group received great media attention including numerous appearances on the national television.
The band got its name after Mizar which is a guiding star for orientation of travelers in the deserts. The name was given by Panta Džambazoski.
Mizar’s musical style is post-punk, darkwave and gothic rock. Beside influences such as Joy Division for instance, Mizar also uses elements of Traditional Macedonian folklore and Byzantine music. Another main part of their music is Goran’s (both Tanevski and Trajkoski) vocals which are based on Christian church chants.
In their long history, Mizar has had 5 Revelations, all of them with different singers.
The First Revelation (Risto Vrtev)
Mizar were formed in 1981 in Skopje as an instrumental trio of Gorazd Čapovski on guitar, Valentin Žabjakin on bass and Panta Džambazoski on drums. In late 1981, Žabjakin left the band and was replaced with Ilija Stojanovski. Risto Vrtev joined on vocals soon after. In 1982, the group recorded a demo tape for Radio Skopje. They then sent this tape to Jugoslovenski Rock Moment (also known as YURM), who wrote a short but glowing review of the tape. During 1983, the band then had to break up shortly after due to the members’ mandatory army commitments.
The Second Revelation (Goran Tanevski)
In 1985, when the members of Mizar returned from the army, Čapovski attempted to form a band called Inola-X with Vrtev, but it didn’t work out. Mizar then reformed with Goran Tanevski in place of Vrtev and a new keyboardist, Slobodan Stojkov. They started to use elements of the traditional Macedonian folklore and Byzantine music blended with post-punk, darkwave and gothic rock. This phase of Mizar is known as Мизар – Второ Откровение (Mizar – The Second Revelation). Vrtev later founded Arhangel (Archangel) which was awarded as the best rock act in Macedonia during the 1990s. Arhangel inherited certain features of Mizar but with a more conventional rock approach which is why Arhangel was sometimes referred as the Rock Mizar. In 1986, the band filmed a music video for the song “Stoj”.
In 1986, the band played the “Druga godba” festival in Zagreb, but altercations within the band caused Džambazoski and Stojkov to leave the group. They were replaced by Vencislav Smakjoski and Goran Trajkovski respectively. This lineup played at Festival Omladina, with Vladimir Kaevski on keyboards, and contributed two live tracks to the festival’s compilation. These tracks are the first appearance of Mizar on record. Trajkovski would later be replaced by Sašo Krstevski, while Stojkov was replaced by Katerina Veljanovska.
In 1986 they recorded a few demos and were a support act for Laibach and Disciplina kičme on their Yugoslav tour. In 1987 they were awarded for their unique sound at the most significant rock music festival which was held in Subotica.
They released their first, self-titled album, in 1988 with the following line-up:
Goran Tanevski (vocal)
Gorazd Čapovski (guitar)
Boris Georgiev (drums) (ex. Badmingtons)
Sašo Krstevski (bass)
Katerina Veljanovska (keyboards)
The producer was Goran Lisica-Fox. Beside their own songs, the album also included a cover version of the notable Macedonian folk song Zajdi, Zajdi under the title “Златно сонце” (Golden Sun). One of the best known songs from the album is “Девојка од Бронза” (Girl made of bronze).
By 1989, the lineup had stabilised to the following:
Goran Tanevski – vocals
Gorazd Čapovski – guitar
Ilija Stojanovski – bass
Žarko Serafimovski – drums
Vladimir Kaevski – keyboards
This lineup’s first appearance on record was the Demoskop 1 compilation in late 1990, where they contributed two tracks, “Veligden” and “Glas”. Between October and December 1990, the band recorded their second album, Svjat Dreams, releasing it on 7 September 1991, the day before Macedonia split from Yugoslavia. The title of the record is inspired by the song Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics. On this album they covered the traditional song 1762 and a song written by Vrtev, the first singer of Mizar titled “Дом” (Home).
Don’t Look Back vol. VII: Skopje (1-2-ex-YU!!)
Noќ nad Makedonija (1981-90)
Početok i kraj (1983-86)
Badmingtons – Site obični luđe 
Badmingtons – Doađa sabota 
Badmingtons – Moram li jas? 
Bastion – Deca sunca 
Bastion – Mesec u šolji 
Bastion – Molitva 
Padot na Vizantija – Početok i kraj 
Padot na Vizantija – Istata sostojba 
Aporea – Dzvezdo javljajušta solnce [medieval]
Gradot e nem (1986-90)
Aporea – Na rjekah vavilonskih [ancient]
Mizar – Gradot e nem (live) 
Mizar – Stoj 
Mizar – Devojka od bronza 
Mizar – Hoden že 
Aporea – Kondak Sv. Prohoru Pčinjskomu [undated]
Telo-nauka sovršena – Grešnici 
Telo-nauka sovršena – Niz vekovi so grevovi 
Telo-nauka sovršena – Plastična zemlja 
Arhangel – Arhangel ’80 – ’89 (live) 
Telo-nauka sovršena – Son (live) 
Lola V. Stain – Makova polja 1 
Lola V. Stain – Makova polja 2 
Lola V. Stain – Rani jadi 1 
Lola V. Stain – Rani jadi 3 
Mizar – Abja mem 
Mizar – Veligden 
Telo-nauka sovršena – Nebo 
Mizar – Običen čovek 
More than two decades without a misstep in album making. If it weren’t for the unfortunate Fontana years it would be all the way from “Modern Dance” days. Impressive. Otac Ubu kaže: “I got a bit of soul. I keep it in a cage. I feed it parrot food. I keep it tame. Some days I let it fly. Then it’s a bird of prey. It hunts for blood. I let it hunt for blood. It’s not a song you want to sing along to. You don’t want to get these thoughts inside your head.”
Pere Ubu in the seventies introduced several innovations in the rock music scene. Who, according to you, at the moment is really making something new?
I am uninterested in “making something new.” I am interested in mainstream rock as the fundamental voice of the American folk experience. I am interested in exploring the narrative voice within the mainstream. Pere Ubu is mainstream rock. Justin Timberlake is weird experimental music. Robbie Williams is avant-garde. Britney Spears is constantly coming up with something new and innovative. Pere Ubu does the same old thing. “New” is a trap and a scam to dupe student-types and other naive people.
Satan is boring.
Saint Vitus – Hallow’s Victim
Saint Vitus – Prayer For The (M)asses
Saint Vitus – Mystic Lady
Trouble – Pray For The Dead
Trouble – Fear No Evil
Trouble – The Skull
(recorded 1985, issued 1990)
The Obsessed – Tombstone Highway
The Obsessed – Inner Turmoil
The Obsessed – River Of Soul