Zagreb [1986-90] vol II: Cul-de-Sac

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.

cul de sac 89

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.

ddm

Dee Dee Mellow

Gnoom

Uhu

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.

sinalbert

Sin Albert – Sin Albert (1990) 7″ EP

Ja želim čuti

Tri mala dodira

Kinderbet

San

Boxer (1989)

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:

Zdravo

Unekodoba

Novinar

Rože

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:

house painters

A side: SIM Studio ’87

Paint The World

Bells

Spectacles

Semantics

B side: TROOLY Studio ’89

Seeing

Scrape

I Woke Up In A World Of Light

Medicine Man

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.

sexa live

Oči

Djevojčica

Sex

Uhode

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!

Saturnalia (Blood Money)

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.

 

All Hallows’ Evening ’85

Satan is boring.

hallow's victim

Saint Vitus – Hallow’s Victim

Saint Vitus – Prayer For The (M)asses

Saint Vitus – Mystic Lady

skull

Trouble – Pray For The Dead

Trouble – Fear No Evil

Trouble – The Skull

the obsessed

(recorded 1985, issued 1990)

The Obsessed – Tombstone Highway
The Obsessed – Inner Turmoil
The Obsessed – River Of Soul

SST: Blasting Concept 1983

Meanwhile, down on the ocean beach at SST premises…

hermosab

 


1982

Bye bye Ladbroke Grove & Rough Trade !!

In 1982 SST continued to broaden their Hermosa / Redondo Beach label beyond its original inner core circle (Black Flag – Minutemen – Saccharine Trust) sifting peculiar talent among punk-rockers, surfers and freaks in larger LA area and even outside California. Stains, Overkill and Meat Puppets (via Thermidor label) had already been recruited the year before in ’81. Dual guitar Black Flag (on obligatory hiatus due to lawsuit) recorded phenomenal Demo ’82 which would be the central event of the year. Würm regrouped because Dukowski wasn’t allowed to play bass under Black Flag anymore. About that time Saint Vitus, the Subhumans, Dicks and Hüsker Dü (via New Alliance label) joined the SST ranks. According to signor Carducci, Bad Brains had an open offer too.

So, let’s bring Blasting Concept back in slightly different way, following a linear timeline more precisely, beginning with late ’82 / early ’83 recording activities with legendary SST house engineer and producer Spot.


1983

Various Artists: Blasting Concept ’83 Revisited

(1) Saint Vitus – The Psychopath (from “Saint Vitus” LP 1984) A

saint vitus

 

Saint Vitus – mammoth of a band (pulled out from La Brea tar pits!) –  recorded seminal self-titled album in late ’82 with Spot. The tapes were sitting on SST shelves until early ’84 waiting for the cash inflow. The album sounds immense in its primordial slowness.  Saint Vitus’ inclusion was indeed a tectonic move/ment for SST camp, not immediately recognized outside LA. It took many sloth years before humble Saint Vitus started to get reappraisal, mainly through fellow bands interested in heavy rock. Nowadays they are metal kings – highly appreciated grandfathers of (millennial) Doom or so called Stoner Rock.

(2) the Dicks – Pigs Run Wild (from “Kill from the Heart” LP 1983) B+

dicks

 

Heavy Texan punks Dicks didn’t shy away from blues-rock and soul while playing punk rock. Early songs from their first single and live split w / Big Boys are indeed classics but this debut LP brought something else to the table beside fearlessness. “Kill From the Heart” is (flawed) masterpiece that illustrates diversity of American punk-rock bands often superficially categorized same as juvenile and formulaic hard-core boybands.  Although I appreciate communist slant and passionate rage of young singer Gary Floyd, sometimes I’d rather hear about “pigs” (cops), “nazis” or “klan” in a more focused way. Also, I don’t mind “Dicks Can’t Swim” funk jam but it does sound hamfisted a little. “Kill From the Heart” was recorded probably in late ’82 or early months of ’83. Political and social activist Gary Floyd would soon leave for San Francisco… the rest of the band decided to return to Austin after brief Frisco scene try-out. Dicks (mk I) split up.

Indicative cover version: Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix Experience.

(3) Husker Du – Deadly Skies (from “Metal Circus” mini-LP 1983) A

huskerdu

 

“Metal Circus” was finished very early in ’83. Typical hard-core songs from yesteryear were dropped from the repertoire and the world of rock music got an almost perfect mini-LP in rushed mid-tempo, but heavy enough. Buzz bomb from Minneapolis invokes Cold War dread on “Metal Circus”, even more personal than collective this time around. American individualism, you know. Using Minutemen spiel it could be dubbed “Buzz and Howl Under the Influence of Cold“.

(4) the Subhumans – America Commits Suicide (from “No Wishes, No Prayers” LP 1983) B

subhumans

 

The Subhumans, politically active band  from Canada, drove south from Vancouver bringing along spirited and moderately melodic take on old school punk-rock. It was not that dissimilar to the sound of their fellow citizens D.O.A., maybe a bit lighter.  Their second full length album “No Wishes, No Prayers” was recorded in late ’82 or early ’83 with partially changed line-up capturing original group’s last gasps. There was only one “No Wishes, No Prayers” pressing because the Subhumans had already split up before SST managed to put it out.

Indicative cover version: Screwed Up by Menace.

(5) Minutemen – Little Man with the Gun in His Hand (from “Buzz or Howl…” EP 1983) A

minutemen

 

“Buzz or Howl…” was recorded in two sessions: 01/83 and 05/83. Beloved caffeinated Californian leftist punks of the first order were enamored with politically charged UK art punk. More so than any other band related to SST. On the other hand, Minutemen were not ashamed of US arena rock that dominated their formative years too. Hard-rock moves to come (past one-off novelty trick “Project Mersh” EP) didn’t suit them. Their final album “3-Way Tie For Last” is actually an average 12″ EP stretched to a stodgy hodge-podge LP.

(6) Meat Puppets – We’re Here (from “Meat Puppets II” LP 1984) A

meatpuppets

It took only year and a half from art/redneck hard-core punk cacophony of “Meat Puppets” (ruined by drunken/affected vocals) to this evergreen masterpiece. “Meat Puppets II” was recorded in (eternal) spring of 1983. Cock your ears and hold the breath! They are here.

 

(7) Saccharine Trust – Our Discovery (from “Surviving You, Always” LP 1984) A

saccharinetrust

 

“Surviving You, Always” is Saccharine Trust’s first LP, recorded in October ’83. Saccharine Trust didn’t care for UK stuff (music) one bit, it seems to me. These insular jazz cats were influenced by James Blood Ulmer, Beat poetry & Old Testament in equal measure. Saccharine Trust never made it, God knows why. Were they ignored (by American college radio and common punk rock fans of the day) due to “non-communicative” material lacking obvious POP hooks. Or were they just lazing around in drunken stupor too much? A hidden SST jewel. Lovely black sheep.

Indicating cover version: Peace Frog by the Doors.

(8) Husker Du – Somewhere (from “Zen Arcade” dbl LP 1984) B+

huskerduzen

 

Somewhere over the rainbow? No such place on the horizon. Zen Arcade Tour de Force is still exciting conceptual double album done as a tribute to the Who (who are real rock archetypes for fucked-up childhood / upbringing). Hüsker Dü recorded “Zen Arcade” very quickly in October ’83 as well, desperately trying to reach see-through zen state of mind with high intake of amphetamines. I totally flipped out during crossover punk-rock / speed-metal side-B while revisiting whole album for the purpose of this blog post. Mind bending!

Indicative cover version (a howling scorcher): Eight Miles High by the Byrds.

 

(9) Würm – 98 DA (from “Feast” LP 1985) C

wurm

 

Würm tapes were recorded sometime during 1983 with Ethan James and then they were bunkered. Sound of “Feast” gives off great live feel from roomy acoustics of old Radio Tokyo studio. The evil content might be a required taste. The second coming of Würm could be regarded as warming up for SWA since they broke up right after completion of this mongrel album.  Würm was fronted by theatrical singer (Simon Smallwood) looming above band’s uncertain future like bad omen. The pattern continued later in SWA (Merrill Ward). Simon’s approach had more in common with lysergic madness though. “Feast” LP (1985) offers grotesque psychedelic hard-rock worth hearing in its entirety at least few times. Perhaps Dukowski had to vent his pent-up anger somehow.

 

(10) Black Flag – Nothing Left Inside (from “My War” LP 1984) B+

blackflag

 

Recorded in December ’83 under (outstanding guitarist & SST boss) Greg Ginn’s tight reins. “My War” is exceptionally important and influential work-out recorded during Black Flag’s transient line-up still without official replacement for original bass player Dukowski. Album grade was a bit lowered just because Dukowski’s propulsive aggro playing is somewhat missed on “My War”.

Blast your mind with half an hour long alternative take: Blasting Concept ’83 (ver.)

1984 can re-start right now!

Progressive punk rockers indeed. I’ll remain impressed forever.

Amen.

 

Don’t Look Back: Novi Sad (SR Serbia)

Vol III: Rock and Pop Music in Novi Sad in the 1980s (incomplete overview)

*subject to change*

Korekcije faktografije, dopune, HQ mp3 doprinos (bilo bi lijepo čuti Ove sezone vedri tonovi!) i slično… su dobrodošli.

Provodim dane u parku nekom, u drugi grad otplivam rekom
tu spavam u potkrovlju slepom, rano uveče i posle još

“Došla su tako neka vremena” (La strada)

Novi Sad, the capital city of Vojvodina (at the time autonomous region in the north of Socialist Republic of Serbia) was a multi-cultural micro-center for new wave happenings. As with any other blog post about the ex-YU city “scenes”, this one starts with a domestic punk band too.

Pekinška patka (1978 – 81) was at the same time the first Serbian (or as their singer likes to point out as an illustration – the very first punk band from Christian Orthodox cultural setting). A lot of punk-rock scholars and fans around the world hold their debut album (at least one year late in production) “Plitka poezija” LP (1980) in high regard. It’s an example of entertaining punk with catchy hooks and exactly because of that melodic aspect Pekinška patka can be regarded as an authentic case globally. By the way, their singer Čonkić (Čonta) was a high-school professor at the time! Weirdos.

pekinskapatka

In Novi Sad there were quite a lot punk bands (Gomila G*, Crkveni pacovi*, Rafal*, Armija Spasa*, Van kontrole*, Dva minuta mržnje, Vrisak generacije, Fluorel Tačkaš*… ) of all varieties stretching the old school punk-rock tag over street-punk/Oi and later throughout whole decade over various versions* of hard-core punk. Looking back (from safe distance) it seems that Novi Sad was also capital city of street-punk/Oi in ex-YU. Obvious pick of the litter would be Dva minuta mržnje (studio demo ’84).

Pekinška patka II (1980 – 81) is yet another example of fairly successful transformation into post-punk band (quite tight instrumentally). However, Čonta’s changed persona hovering above in darker circumstances can grate my oversensitive ears on few songs. It took me years (even decades) to get accustomed. One can have impression that the second album came too soon (with obvious post-punk influences and ideas brought in with new guitarist Bulatović barely toned down) or that Pekinška patka were losing the steam towards the end. That said, I prefer “Strah od monotonije” LP (1981) nowadays.

strah

Original guitarist/sax player of Pekinška patka left the band before completion of their second album to join newly formed young ska-punk band Kontraritam (1980-82). Thanks to exceptional rhythm section Kontraritam could easily bring it on in concert. Lucky kids with happy feet.

New wave / power-pop bands of note in Novi Sad were Pop art* (officially undocumented) and Fotomodel (with a single put out by Jugodisk).

New wave circus rock troupe Laboratorija zvuka hailed from Novi Sad too. They were often novelty guests on ex-YU TV channels playing upbeat songs specifically arranged for children or, at the other side of spectrum, they were offering lascivious tunes for adult public. “Laboratory of Sound” caravan traveled across the country quite a lot. They even had conceptual performance abroad in London at some point in mid-decade.

New wave art project La strada (1979 – 81) led by Slobodan Tišma ended prematurely with formation of Luna. From this early phase they left behind two studio songs recorded in 1980.

Luna (1981 – 84) put out only one post-punk / dark-wave album and then (acrimoniously) split up before LP even appeared in the stores. Group of distinct individuals – great drummer Fece aka Firči (would become part of EKV (Belgrade) gang soon), excellent guitarist Bulatović aka Bale (ex Pekinška patka II), cohesive organ/synth player Mitrušić aka Mina & peculiar poet Tišma (ex La strada; here as stressed-out vocalist on the verge of mental breakdown) – barely managed to keep Luna together to document their intense existence. Film noir scenario! Perhaps presence of bass player would have pushed “Nestvarne stvari” LP to an even higher level… Well, I am being fussy here because this album really is awesome as it turned out. I might be emotionally more involved with Obojeni program and Boye but regarding the post-punk time frame “Nestvarne stvari” (Helidon, 1984) is picked as the centerpiece album from Novi Sad. Recorded in autumn of 1983 it would fit perfectly in early 4AD portfolio of bands (Bauhaus, Birthday Party, Mass, Modern English, Xmal Deutschland, Wolfgang Press) closing the post-punk years of said esteemed label with a record license from Helidon label.

luna

LunaNestvarne stvari (1984) – definitive post-punk album from Novi Sad

Luna sank in Danube to be washed ashore (think of some secluded river inlet overgrown with sedge rather than right between sun bathers on Štrand in summer time) as La strada II (1984 – 8?) again.  Tišma kept on cooperation with Luna synth player Mina and invited Kontraritam dudes for reformed version of La strada. They recorded eponymous album in 1986 (or was it really Live Aid summer ’85?). It was pressed in even less copies than “Nestvarne stvari” by Luna.  La strada were moving away from new-wave / post-punk templates towards literate guitar pop-rock (and 1960s influences). In my opinion Tišma’s vocal performance on La strada suits him better than his attempts at singing on “Nestvarne stvari”. On “La strada” (M produkcija RNS, 1987) album Tišma seemed to be more relaxed although he was unsatisfied with the end results. His brooding voice evokes (Slavonic) melancholia of river plains pretty well. In the flat field people do get bored.

lastrada

Grad (1981-82) was short-lived post-punk band (DAF, Joy Divison / New Order) interested in synths and cold electronic sounds coming out of Germany.

Boye (1981 – 199?) Enough!!! Enough of street-punk boot-boy bravado! Make space for girls to rock out freely or just dance and play modern pop songs. Or whatever they like to call their style. The Raincoats and Kleenex/Lilliput … might have left an impression on girls from Novi Sad. Boye recorded two excellent albums “Dosta! Dosta! Dosta!” (PGP RTB, 1988) and “’78” (Search & Enjoy, 1990) in succession that were preceded with plenty of tentative synth-pop/post-punk demo steps around Jugoton contract. Allegedly they had enough recorded material for an album even as early as 1984.

Obojeni program (1980 –  ) are indeed rock institution from Novi Sad today. Who would say. They formed in the early 1980s, finally recorded debut LP as late as 1990 for newly established indie label “Search & Enjoy” from Zagreb and… remained present. People often find Branislav Babić Kebra’s piercing vocal a required taste but to me he sounds just perfect.  Band’s fascination with M.E. Smith & the fall might be constant although not directly evident in their music. I am not sure if Obojeni program were ever captured on tape before unavoidable mid-1980s hiatus (JNA). Allegedly their early years were characterized by punk-funk sound. They continued live activities in 1985/86 with revolving membership and for a couple of years band existed as drum/bass/vocal trio. At the tail end of the decade Obojeni program would find balance with new guitarist and record long-waited first album together with Dušan Kojić – Koja (Disciplina kičme, Beograd) as producer. “Najvažnije je biti zdrav” LP (1990) is legendary around these parts.

Cult postpunk band Ove sezone vedri tonovi (1981 – 83) even appeared at YURM ’82 festival in Zagreb. Velvet Underground, This Heat and RIO bands are usually mentioned as possible influences or just OSVT’s affiliation. It seems that they disappeared without the recorded evidence of existence. Few OSVT members continued with free form avant-garde group Cirko della primavera** in the second half of the decade. Low budget avant cassette label Nikad Robom originated from this group of forward (or outward) looking folk. As a side note, Đorđe Delibašić – Đoka, member of the collective, recorded SexA’s noise-rock album in Novi Sad in 1990.

According to the book “Novosadska punk verzija” Armija kontrasta ltd* were short-lived post-punk band with rhythm-machine.

Neon vojnik* (ex Crkveni pacovi), Krik maske* and Skice* (ex Linija otpora) shared common love of Killing Joke at the different time frames and probably in a slightly different way. Judging by track “Grobar” solely Neon vojnik really had something to offer. After all, Killing Joke used to be popular with UK ’82 street punks and anarcho crowds as well. Do you remember Blitz (UK) boys and their excursion into post-punk waters on their second full length album?

Mitar Subotić aka Rex Ilusivii was an experimental electronic musician and producer.

Art-rock white-funk synth-pop romantics of Novi Sad were called Heroina. Frontman Petar Janjetov is esteemed artist / comics author today. At the time of recording their only album “Heroina” (1985) they had to replace departed drummer with a drum machine. It is somewhat reminiscent of Roxy Music, Boa (Zagreb) or Gang of 4 (during “Hard”). One can easily find couple of attractive songs (nice guitar playing) while in the heart-broken mood.

Ponoćni kauboj*  were rock band (with brass section) from the second half of the decade. Perhaps they realized that in “punk-rock” the part that really matters belongs to “-rock”. The only one track I’ve heard by them reminded me of Električni orgazam (Belgrade) and their own R’n’R transformation.

Hip-hop punk rockers Atheist Rap surfaced out of the hard-core punk scene in 1989 and reigned over Novi Sad (and beyond) in oncoming decades. Street-punk/Oi and hard-core in general gained momentum around that time and you get first studio recorded material by  Vrisak generacije (Oi punk), Ritam nereda (Oi punk), Mr. Joint (Oi punk/HC), Kapetan Leshi (hard-core), Generacija bez budućnosti (hard-core), KNO / Invalidi uma (hard-core)…

* scarce info about these bands gathered from “Novosadska punk verzija” book

**read more thoroughly about other side of Novi Sad on this extraordinary blogspot guide: Other Novi Sad Scene of the 1980s


Don’t Look Back vol. III: Novi Sad (1-2-ex-YU!!)

Pekinška patka – Biti ružan, pametan i mlad (’79)

Fotomodel – To nisi ti (’81)

Kontraritam – Obojeni grad (’82)

Pekinška patka II – Monotonija (’81)

La Strada – Sat (’80)

Grad – Gradsko šetalište (Maske) (’82)

Rex Ilusivii – Zla kob (’83)

Neon vojnik – Grobar (’83)

Luna – Fakir (’83)

2MM – Terorizam (’84)

Boye – Mikrosvet (’83)

Heroina – Zaigrajmo (’85)

Rex Ilusivii – Arabia (’85)

La Strada – Došla su tako neka vremena (’85)

Ponoćni kauboj – Mesec (’88)

Boye – (Gde) možemo se sresti (’88)

Atheist Rap – Atheist Rap (’89) uživo

Obojeni program – Kosmos u tvom srcu (’90)

Ritam nereda – Suton (’90)

Cirko della primavera – Sveti Mihajlo u laganom afričkom kasu u kozinom stilu ubija sedmoglavog apokaliptičnog zmaja (’89)

 

Don’t Look Back: Rijeka (SR Croatia)

Vol II: RI-Rock or Rock & Pop Music in Rijeka in the 1980s

Rijeka is the largest port city in the bay of Kvarner in the Northern Adriatic. It is (was) famous for its shipyards and quite tall soc-realist skyscrapers built on steep rocks looming above the narrow strip of land where the city center has been squeezed. Rijeka has nothing in common with capital city of Zagreb bar couple of edifices left after Austrian/Hungarian rule over the land. Rijeka used to have more punk rock bands per square km than any place in Croatia, closely following Ljubljana in whole ex-YU. The prevailing spirit of this city was closer to confrontational brand of punk rock played by teenagers crazy enough to raise hell and challenge (actually just tease) questionable communist morality and ethics along the way. Due to geographical position they gravitated more towards leading ahead Ljubljana (Slovenia) than to Zagreb. In addition, Rijeka had a very important focal point in ‘svengali’ figure Goran Lisica Fox, at the time just few years older than an average teenage punk. He was helpful in steering the collective energy towards some artistic goal (in post-punk sense) or eventual record label deal. Later on he founded Dallas Records, a small independent label of sorts.

As the story goes, the first punk band in Rijeka, Croatia (and perhaps Yugoslavia; depending on point of view) was Paraf, a brainchild of teenager Valter Kocijančić. After having read news about thing called ‘punk’ in imported music papers (NME) he decided to form the very first YU punk band. The whole 1977 was spent mostly in the garage and the first official appearance of Paraf happened early in 1978. Their late debut LP “A dan je tako lijepo počeo…” (1980) was recorded with borrowed instruments at the time when band was going through the changes. The guitar tracks were mixed too low which brought extra disappointment.  Anyhow, punk rock mission accomplished, mischievous  front-man left to finish his studies and become teacher. The band transformed into Paraf II (~ Siouxsie and the Banshees) with significant line-up change & persevered as genuine post-punk band during the first half of the 1980s.

paraf

Unlike situation in Zagreb with very weak punk response, there were more late 70s punk bands of note in Paraf’s tow (Zadnji, Termiti, Protest, Mrtvi Kanal, KAOS etc.) in Rijeka.

Termiti (1978 – 1982) were only band from the first bunch of city punks that had enough recorded material for a long play record in the beginning of 1980s. Their sound was from the start enriched by little electric organ with 60’s overtones and the songwriting became more complex at the end. Stage antics aside, punk concerts (performances) by Termiti were pretty wild.

Istočni izlaz (1979 – 81) were high-school punk-rockers with clean-looking mod aspirations. Think of the Jam.

Actually Rijeka had all sorts of bands to offer. Hard-core punk, neither of UK ’82 nor US ’81 variety, didn’t catch on in the 1980s. After the initial punk-rock outbursts from almost every part of the city, Rijeka got veiled in dark-wave gloom. Art decade.

izleti

The next record “Izleti” (1981) by Paraf II (1981 – 87) is an exceptional album for the time and place although somewhat patched with silly/playful filler/arrangements. Singer Vim Cola was still trying to find her voice as a young woman in punk. One of their better songs ever called (Državni) Praznik and recorded during LP studio sessions, didn’t appear on the album in the end. Censored? Follow-up album “Zastave” (1984), Paraf’s final release, is indeed Croatian (and ex-YU) dark-wave masterpiece and a definitive (centerpiece) album from Rijeka – a tattered flag of bygone revolutions attached to some rusty flagpole in the remotest city corner, waving in a heavily scented spring breeze to attention of very few outside the inner punk rock circle. It was issued by (adventurous) Helidon record label from Slovenia. At that time a lot of young bands around the world were preoccupied with the ideas about totalitarian society par excellence and/or imminent nuclear wipe-out, wrapped up in a typically adolescent (and self-induced) Cold War paranoia. The small-scale war would happen soon enough though. This captivating album could have been one of the warning dreams.

zastave

Paraf – Zastave (1984)a definitive (postpunk) album from Rijeka

Mrtvi kanal (1979 – 1983) were second best post-punk band in town early on. They stood out of the punk crowd even with the casual first glance due to long-haired accordionist / synth player in the mature line-up. At their last stage, as late as 1983, this bizarre looking group managed to record seven energetic and provocative songs under the Stranglers or Joy Division spell. The recordings were put out on a split tape shared with their comrades Grč. “Mrtvi kanal / Grč” (1983) would be one of the first independently released cassettes on Slovenian label Galerija ŠKUC izdaja, and for sure the first one for a band from Croatia.

Grč I (1982 – 87) evolved in a rabid beast of a band gradually. Early period captured on the previously mentioned cassette presented them as politically charged followers of Pere Ubu, sort of similar to SexA in sound but less arty and more sinister. Over the period of few years they grew heavy body and became scary axe swinging Goths who favoured razor sharp Killing Joke sound (when KJ themselves were going through troubled synth-pop phase!). In a way they shared (confrontational) interests and subject matter with Trobecove krušne peći (Zagreb) too. Recent vinyl reissue of “Sloboda narodu” (1987/2016) is highly recommended. Grč were type of Goths leaving unsavory odor of sweat and stench of carcass after them, not patchouli scent. They were also into pretentious rock performances so common in Rijeka. Truly remarkable sound thou.

grc

KAOS (1979 – 1984) also brought forth two distinct appearing forms: early punk-rock lasting up to ’81 and then synth-punk (1982 – 84). Unwanted loss of drummer worked well for them eventually.  The best songs by KAOS are based on rhythm-machine matrix. Dorotea (another exceptional female punk vocalist) reminded of Nina Hagen a bit because of her high-pitched warble. KAOS’s later phase (issued on CD recently) is highly recommended.

Ogledala (ex Istočni izlaz, Kum) (1982 – 87) were brokenhearted young men with healthy power pop instincts and origins in mod-punk band Istočni izlaz. Their direct lyrical expression matched with grandiose and spacey arrangements (Echo & the Bunnymen / U2 / Simple Minds) that included synth, was very close to being over the top. They wore their hearts on their sleeves (instead of zips, chains and badges). Material recorded in 1984 in Ljubljana for potential album that never materialized (unearthed in 2008 for a CD issue) shows fine ideas gone in unpleasant direction sound-wise in the studio (bloody big drum sound!). If they had stayed closer to their live sound it would sound much better today, less pompous at least. It seems that Ogledala often got carried away while daydreaming. Dreams are free, motherfuckers! Excellent drummer, by the way.

Quiet (and quite depressive) new-wave rock band Konjak (1981 – 85) existed on the margins of the city scene until the lead guitarist/singer joined Paraf II and broke up the band for good.  They left interesting demo tracks behind (mainly recorded in 1982). Konjak preferred dry (guitar) sound and bare bones rock arrangements. Might have been influenced by Azra a little bit.

Umjetnici ulice (1982 – 83) were balancing between punk rock and new wave while their passionate singer tried to steal the show.  He continued his now decades long artistic career with dark-wave group Let 2 (1984 – 86). Let 2 lasted few years as rock spinoff of electronic experimental performance group Strukturne ptice (1982 – 87). In the end they managed to overshadow Strukturne ptice with activity and became a warming up platform for Let 3.

Idejni nemiri (1982 – 88) transformed from anything goes punk-rock to an average pop-rock band after collective hiatus (traumatic experience in JNA?).

Fit (1982 – 91) also started early in the decade and went through few developmental phases: from punk-rock beginnings over mid-1980s dark alt rock (usually connected with the likes of Echo & the Bunnymen or U2) to EKV (Belgrade) sisterhood. It resulted with PGP RTB record contract and debut album (Goth-rock; Cult, Mission) produced by EKV boss Milan Mladenović.

Other groups in Rijeka that shared EKV art-rock visions to some extent were Grad and Laufer.

Demo part of the scene in the mid-1980s was captured on independently released VA record “Rijeka – Paris – Texas” (1987) showing the sugarcoated pop melody on the rise. These pop bands probably belonged to Paris quarters of Rijeka. Grč, Let 2 and Let 3 were definitely from Texas side of town. Some of them participants eventually managed to release debut LP and the best one, without any doubt, was by Let 3.

Let 3 (1987 – ) might stand for the third attempt for successful flight. They really did it their way despite having their flight feathers dirty with resin and blackened with tar. As original Grč guitarist joined the group they succeeded the title of Croatian Killing Joke with the difference that Let 3 really ended up mainly as surrealist jokers. The dark and psychedelic phase of Let 3 was short lived compared to circus rock career that followed. They have been into cross-dressing, surrealist exhibitionism & most importantly into Rock Theater as a way of life since then. “Two Dogs Fuckin’” (1989) is a brilliant record thou – as shameless and disturbing as two shabby dogs mating in the middle of Korzo promenade.

let3

Power-pop group with older and experienced musicians with Jugoton record contract and better connections in Zagreb were Xenia (1981 – 85). The first single & “Kad nedjelja prođe” LP (1983) are well crafted new wave influenced pop rock records.

Synth pop duo Denis & Denis (1982 – 1986) gained popularity throughout the whole ex YU thanks to strong voice and sensual sighs of female singer. Their early hits like Program tvog kompjutera or Soba 23 are on par with commercial UK synth pop. Minimal synth demos recorded in 1982-83 are a bit closer to post-punk spirit though.

Pioneering all girl pop-rock band Cacadou (Look) (1983 – 91) might have had hearts in the right place in the beginning but producers slicked their sound on debut LP too much. Too bad.

Industrial rock band Transmisia (1987 – 9?) (Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Killing Joke, Big Black) and post HC noise rockers Regoč appeared on the scene at the end of decade but their debut records would see the light of day in another decade and other countries (Italia, USA, Slovenia) altogether.

Don’t Look Back vol. II: Rijeka (1-2-ex-YU!!)

Paraf – Reforma školstva  (’78) – radio session

Istočni izlaz ( w / V. Kocijančić) – Plava koverta (’79) – radio session

Paraf – Visoki propisi  (’80)

Termiti – Mama, s razlogom se brineš (’80)


Paraf II – Državni praznik (’81)

Termiti – Kišni razdraganci (’81)

KAOS – Samo prvom klasom (’82)

Konjak – Pretežno vedro (’82) – demo

Grč – Ja imam pasoš (’83)

Mrtvi kanal – U ludnicu (’83)

KAOS – Roboti (’83)

Denis & Denis – 28 minuta do 5 (’83) – demo version

Xenia – Vjetar u kosi (’83)

Cacadou (Look) – Sama (’84) – demo version

Ogledala – Kako ti je sada (’84) – live in Split

Paraf II – Nikad nikad nikad (’84)

Let 2 – Ne trebam te (’84)

Grč – Crne rukavice (’87)

Transmisia – Šume umiru (’87)

Strukturne ptice – Zbog zvuka i pobuđivanja (’87)

Grad – Grad (’87) demo

FIT – Rijeka (’88)

Let 3 – Sam u vodi (’89)

APR ’17: Gnod – Just Say No to the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine

gnod 2017

Sve češće se spominju Gnod – free form rock kolektiv iz Manchestera (Salford). Ne, ne sviđa mi se baš cover art, ali je privukao pažnju. Gnod muzika se pak u potpunosti uklapa u soundtrack ove blog kolumne. Gnod – triple repetition psych noiseniks on fire. Comfort food (for thought). “Stick in the Wheel” ~ the Ex w / David Byrne kanalizirani kroz mentalne smetnje i  rhythm & (white) noise.

Ne Ne Ne,  sve što uvek volim reći jeste Ne Ne Ne!!!

(Disciplina kičme)

Sag Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Negativ Nein / Das Leben ist nicht bunt / Geballt gehen wir zugrunde / Sag Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Negativ Nein / Doppelnein / Drei mal Nein / Aber Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Sag Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Negativ Nein / Sag Nein / Negativ Nein / Asyl-Exil / Hier nicht und da nicht / Frag mich nicht ich weiss es auch nicht / Aber Nein / Nein Nein Nein / Aber Nein / Hauptsache negativ Nein / Negativ Nein / Mit einem Schrei geht es zugrunde / Mit meinem Schrei / Sag Nein / Sag negativ Nein.

(Einstürzende Neubauten)

MAR ’17: Pissed Jeans – ”Why Love Now”

Noise-rock prepad na rastrzani sredovječni živčani sustav! “Why Love Now” je usprkos agresivnoj nasrtljivosti na površini ipak fino strukturiran album i nadilazi prosječnost nekog novijeg uratka utemeljenog na odavno shematiziranom američkom standardu gitarističke buke. Jedan od glavnih uvjeta da uopće zadržim polusatnu pažnju u dotičnom žanrovskom odjeljku rock glazbe bio bi da NE čujem the Jesus Lizard kombinacije pretjerano ili nedajbože Shellac minimalističke dekonstrukcije (što bi bilo još problematičnije). Toliko sam oguglao na dobro poznati format da na Pissed Jeans nisam odreagirao promptno tj. nisam ih imao želje provjeriti kada se potpisivanjem za SUB POP etiketu globalno pronio prvi glas. Kriva procjena! Naprotiv, ne samo da je iznenađujući Ginn/Black Flag utjecaj na gitarista izvrsno uklopljen već i (besposleni) vokalist ima sasvim dovoljno tragikomičnih frustracija i situacija za podijeliti sa slušateljstvom. Recimo da asocira na nećaka Michaela Geralda (Killdozer) kojeg krasi i pripovjedački talent “ujca” (American grotesque after Gerald!). Pissed Jeans predstavljaju rijedak primjer recentnog banda koji me je zadivio i inspirativnom bujicom riječi (poput Protomartyr u njihovom neopostpunk miljeu) kao i umjereno prljavim zvukom kontrolirane buke. Uniđi pod korporativni krov (u slučaju RH to je najčešće kvazi-korporativna mediteransko-balkanska verzija istog) i ostavi dušu na ulazu. Budi kuš i budi tup. Vrišti! (kada nitko ne vidi i ne čuje). Sve je pod nadzorom. HaHaHahahaaaa…

Ah. Grow up, Teenage RnR Adult! Grow up and die off.

pissed jeans

FEB ’17: the Bats – the Deep Set

“The Deep Set”, jedini  ovogodišnji album slušan u veljači u web admin kutku,  uklapa se u the Bats pravocrtni tradicionalni pop-rock kanon u svakom pogledu. U usporedbi s prethodna dva “The Guilty Office” i “Free All The Monsters” ne prepoznajem pjesme koje bi odskakale kao iznimne. Možda pomalo sladunjava “Busy”? No nije toliko bitno jer su The Bats danas (od “At the National Grid” nadalje) meni osobno bolji nego ikad prije, a s pauzama u istoj i jedinoj postavi postoje od ’82. Kapa dolje. Hats off to the Bats!

the-deep-set