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).
Brijačnica ’19 (Tvornica kulture, 15.03.2019.) or Sexagenarian (Punk) Rock
Valter svira Paraf (Rijeka)
A večer je tako lijepo počela. It started with brief and energetic warming up under command of 60 year old punk rocker Valter Kocijančić shouting the repertoire of the earliest Croatian punk-rock songbook (Živjela Jugoslavija, Goli otok, Visoki propisi, etc.) written by his 20 year old self. Original Paraf rhythm section could not join him for this senior gathering so he reassembled backing band of younger friends / colleagues from “the biggest hole in Juga” or the most beautiful (post-industrial) port town in Croatia: Rijeka. Something better change. For the better, please. Forza Fiume!
The classic line-up (early 1980s) of sexagenarian punk-rockers Pankrti dressed in black followed. They were recalling tempi passati with a grin. Good bad old times when they were often playing rock ‘n’ roll concerts, chasing girls and drinking beer all over Yugoslavia. Pankrti were great and delivered the goods (Lepi in prazni, Sedamnajst, Anarhist, Metka, etc.). Songs from overproduced albums “Državni ljubimci” (slightly) and “Sexpok” (overtly) sound so much better live, even today. Povera “Bandiera rossa” was echoing throughout Veliki pogon Tvornice kulture too. “Vogliamo fabbriche, vogliamo terra!! Ma senza guerra, ma senza guerra…”
Then followed injection of timeless rhythm & blues hits honed in Belgrade garages over the decades and spiced with Cane’s gospel. Partibrejkers have always been dear friends of Zagreb, so I suspect that most of the people in public last night came to see primarily them. Partibrejkers were excellent as well, no doubt about that. Anton is a beast of guitar player. Great performance and loyal response.
Trobecove krušne peći (Zagreb)
Trobecove krušne peći climbed the stage after midnight, post r’n’r climax. They were sax less, but not headless at all. Actually, last night they were surprisingly well-balanced and focused. TKP shepherd priests on fire! Purifying fire. Maybe their best show I ever saw. As impressive as KSET ’17, a gig in smaller jazz club space. Once again TKP demolished trad rock in front of the congregation of fans (aka “pastva”) & curious spectators that remained in half-emptied hall. Then they invited all present for the closing number of the long evening of entertainment: Badel Badel Tanz. A cool ending for a great night out. Đavo je bio vruć.
Nostalgia? No, no way. An occasion for (alive & kicking) celebration? Yes, for sure.
Long time ago, in the year 1985, all four of these groups (in one form or another) were playing concerts across the country and promoting recently issued albums or recorded material: Pankrti (“Pesmi sprave”), Partibrejkers (“Partibrejkers”), Trobecove krušne peći (“85” aka “S mukom žvaču trubadurov vrat”) & Paraf II (“Zastave”). 1985. Not a bad year at all. Cheers.
Spring. March Hare is out of his winter lair and on the streets again. Still aimlessly wandering all around Italia. Last month he was ruining his sensitive hearing in hard-core circles which resulted in today’s Declino / Peggio Punx split blogpost. It would be unfair to have a quick (super fast!) look back at Italia ’84 without mentioning phenomenon of local HC punk. I could have picked anarcho Milanesi Wretched and their seven inch EP “Finirá Mai?” that preceded excellent debut LP “Libero Di Vivere / Libero Di Morire”. Yeah, there were quite a lot of bands that managed to issue worthy plastic (in relative terms). Negazione were on the way to become the most popular name of them all, slowly building the European connections. While Raw Power were gigging across the pond in USA, etc. Ascoltate!
Peggio Punx – La città è quieta… ombre parlano (1984)
La mia vita
Declino – Declino (1984)
Rivolta e negazione
This blogpost would not be possible without the history lessons / source materials coming from metal-head Erich (defunct ‘Bad Good Music from Bad Bad Times’ blog) & rude boys of ‘Killed By Death’ old school punk site.
In our neck of the woods hard-core punk didn’t catch on so impressively. UK influenced Skölcould be worthy of passing mention when we speak about Zagreb. Not only early phase of the band but trajectory of the band leader Tomislav Peterlić Fix: Sköl – Blitzkrieg – Sköl II. Unfortunately Sköl didn’t leave behind qualitatively recorded material. HC punk was bigger deal in SR Slovenia & SR Serbia at the beginning of the decade.
From Italodisco to hard-core punk and back, I am off the middle path of purity and righteousness… The decline and fall.
Pop consumer confession again: I am not well versed in Diaframma’s work. It wasn’t destined for export, like Italian hard-core punk. Diaframma remained inside their homeland boundaries.
“Siberia” is recognized as capolavoro of Italian new wave / postpunk. Upon initial listening I wasn’t impressed but once I started to recognize signs of life underneath thin copertina of icy reverb the picture fell into place. Eight songs in half an hour, quite fitting for a Sunday afternoon indoors in allegedly depressive month of January. (Finally with some snow and chill in the air outside, as proper winter should bring. Where have all the seasons gone? You can have six months of fake summer. I want four seasons back!) But as I said, “Siberia” isn’t immediate listening experience and an impulsive savage/naturalist in me wished for the rough mixes or 8-track garage recording of instrumental tracks. The studio recording gives aura of the group scattered across a large freezing empty space with the strongest echoes emanating from the singer. Synthscapes are very tasty but barely audible on few tracks. Bass slaps I dig, as usually. The leader in the band, prolific songwriter / guitarist (in later line-ups on vocals as well), Federico Fiumani, decided to suppress the rock ego and toned down the role of guitar in this arty stage of Diaframma. And although the songs gathered for their debut LP have wintry pace, the group energy captured on other recordings generally reveals lively and forward oriented shape-shifting dynamic. I wouldn’t say that Diaframma were bunch of depressed Italian youth thou. First and foremost, their main muse seems to have been Venus. Followed over the span of the decade, they can be valued as Italian contemporaries of Echo and The Bunnymen, The Cure, Simple Minds and The Wedding Present. I suspect that they were cherished on a local level. Early Diaframma shares some common ground with Pingvinovo potpalublje too. In mid 1980s their vocalist was very distinctive Miro Sassolini who gave Diaframma touch of romantic glamour. But for the purpose of “Siberia” even he was a bit down. (on songs like “Elena” or radio friendly “Tre volte lacrime” which followed after “Siberia”, he flies despite the heartache, and pulls the band higher off the ground). I might check other albums by Diaframma one day. I hope I won’t be disappointed by overtly populist moves. Diaframma = drama.