Once Upon A Time ’85

Bilo jednom…

I had “Once Upon A Time” (Jugoton edition) in my first LP collection. It’s been neglected (with reasons) for too long. Jimmy Iovine almost turned them into stadium sized American bar band which broke too many sophisticated hearts. This album does me good thou. Goodbye art cinema, hello football!

sminds85

Once Upon a Time

All the Things She Said

Ghost Dancing

Oh Jungleland

Washington DC: 1983-85

*subject to change*

Intro: ZG / DC

Ta krvava prošlost. Bez kraja i konca.

Winter 1990–91 in Zagreb was super exciting for young people and promising in many ways but full of omens too. Fearful whispers about imminent war spread around the ex-country like viruses. The usual reply or passing thought was, “No, no way it would happen here.” It did. Where were you in ’90? And what to do (about it) in ’20.

Fugazi, Live in Galerija SC, Zagreb, Hrvatska, Jugoslavija, 22.10.1990.

FUGAZI SC Galerija

“Good evening, everybody! Damn good to be here, in Zagreb.”

[intro]

Reclamation

Sieve-Fisted Find

Greed

Turnover

Runaway Return

Bulldog Front

Shut the Door

[encore]

Repeater

Exit Only

[outro]

Fugazi were the first DC (punk rock) band that played in (the Socialist Republic of) Croatia. In the late 1980s, records by Fugazi (and already mentioned Nomeansno) were held in high regard, and they circulated around town between all the punk rock subcultures. As it often goes, love of Fugazi led to interest in Dischord records and label’s artists other than Minor Threat or hard-core bands in general.

045

Dischord cofounder Jeff Nelson (ex Minor Threat) liked 9353 (almost forgotten band outside DC) so much that he reissued their albums with additional material on CD on his own small label Adult Swim. I got familiar with 9353 later, but they were my first preview of Washington, DC’s dark side, alongside the book of photos “Banned in DC”. I still have it. Dischord House had its share of punk rock weirdos (Beefeater!) for sure, but this book was full of photos of completely unknown bands (hardly heard in the age before the internet) that sported a messy goth/glam image. So here is a blog post dedicated to the unsung side of Washington, DC, from the early and mid-’80s. Kudos for the ever-present logistical support by Don Zientara and Inner Ear Studio, too.

[Nobody ever mentions the new wave “failure” of the Urban Verbs. Generally, the late 1970s stuff was rare and homebound, mostly documented on Skip Groff’s label, Limp Records.]

Banned in DC 1983-85: Dark Corners of Washington D.C.

I moved into the city in September 1984. I went to the payphone across the street and the payphone had “Nazi punks rule! Oi Oi Oi!!!” It made me very happy to be in punk rock Washington. (Mark Andersen, Positive Force activist)

12 05 20 006

Bad Brains had sailed to NYC in 1981, and they let the kids grow up with their hard-core punk. Moving fast and furiously, by the summer of 1983, most of the first and second wave of Dischord bands had broken up. At the time, Dischord was a very small (shoestring) hardcore punk label that could not even completely cover its inner circle of friends. The Faith played its last show in the summer of ’83, and Minor Threat broke up soon after. From that point until the summer of ’85 (Revolution Summer), it was very quiet and even slightly depressed around Dischord, especially during the gap year (1984). Scream, Marginal Man (ex-Artificial Peace), and Government Issue soldiered on, either staying with the label or moving on to stay afloat. The young men that formed the great Gray Matter slowed down the music’s speed, introduced melody, and shared stages around town with those bands. Tesco Vee, an old friend of the label and a punk-rock senior, moved into the city and formed the Meatmen’s DC lineup, revealing his secret fetishes (hard rock/heavy metal and ABBA) to budding punk crowds.

There were only a few records put out by Dischord in that period: the last recorded material by the Faith and Minor Threat, Scream’s debut LP, and Marginal Man’s 12-inch, followed by Beefeater, Rites of Spring, and another Scream LP in the second half of ’85.

But post-punk and post-hardcore in the wider DC metropolitan area (encompassing very quiet Baltimore, MD; Arlington, VA; Annapolis, MD; and the suburbs in between) existed, even if it didn’t thrive, in that period. It was documented on the Fountain of Youth (FOY) label (akin to Homestead Records in aesthetic) run by Derick Hsu (ex-Exiled), and occasionally by the bands themselves on their tiny samizdat labels.

I never worked my label (Fountain of Youth) like a business. My purpose was to get the record out. I just wanted to do it. I never really thought, “What are we going to do with the record now that is out?” I just figured everything was going to work itself out. And it didn’t.  (Derek Hsu)

To start, I’ll pick some interesting tracks from the various-artists compilation Bouncing Babies. Actually, I’ve simply omitted the hardcore punk-related tracks from 1981–82, even though a couple of them are pretty OK.

Black Market Baby – Suzie Dear

Mid-tempo punk-rock dudes, leather jackets and boots, etc. Almost written out of DC history for being in the no-man’s-land between Skip Goff’s label and Dischord. Belated debut album issued by FYO in 1983.

Braille Party – Terrorist

A multi-part hard-core song from a band I know nothing about.

Body Count – Bull in a China Shop

Just to remind you of No Trend’s Fuzzy Dice (More, 1988). And that ska punk was great initially.

Lucky Pierre – Looking Back

More sax (played by Jeff Nelson’s brother Brian, who would later join No Trend under the name Johnny Ontego), from this otherwise unknown band.

Underground Soldier – Sunday Slaughter

Doug Birdzell moved on to play in Beefeater, as a terrorist bassist using a slap technique.

Crippled Pilgrims – Black and White

A Paisley Underground pop-rock band on the East Coast, in DC. (Other janglers of a similar ilk were picked up by Homestead in the same period, circa ’84). Crippled Pilgrims’ music is lovely, reminiscent of the early dB’s. FYO issued their excellent mini-LP, which was followed the next year by an album. The very dense LP added some dissonance to the mix, if not more melodies. These records are out of print (lost masters) but have been saved from complete obscurity by Reaction Recordings’ CD release: Down Here: Collected Recordings 1983 – 1985.

9353 – Ten Witches

An even-better alternate mix of an already-great song.

Reptile House – Talons and Claws

The very best early song by Reptile House that I’ve heard, sound-wise.

Government Issue – Dead Dog

Metal-punk take on slow, heavy-riffing doom.

Glee Club – Disguise

Government Issue guys in disguise play Throbbing Gristle records in the basement. The fun just never ends…

Death Camp 2000 – Unknown

Don Fleming’s (Velvet Monkeys) side band that specialized in making noise. Their only recording.

1/2 JAPANESE (Uniontown, MD)

I am traditional in many ways, so let’s begin with the band of elders. Compared to DC’s 16-year-old hardcore kids, Half Japanese were “punk dinosaurs,” whose involvement in music stretches back to the mid-1970s bedroom activities of the brothers Fair. Strangely, Half Japanese wanted to feel like they were in their early teens most of the time, and they approximated it with unprecedented style. Many of the early recordings were issued in Europe, so Half Japanese might be the best-known name here. But not too popular. One can tag them as no wave, new wave, post-punk, or punk rock, but they are simply all of these at once and beyond categorization. Half Japanese’s 3xLP debut annoys me, although it comes across as charming when I am not feeling too moody. For my own spastic pleasure, I would edit it to a single LP. I have problems with the “songs” they recorded when they regressed to the age of 8 years old or so.  Loud is a treble racket that I like just fine. But the series of full-length albums recorded in 1983–85, Our Solar System, Sing No Evil, and Charmed Life (belatedly issued in 1988), are truly fantastic works of art in a world of their own. The Fair brothers daydream about pretty-girl athletes and have nightmares full of monsters and zombies from B movies.

Our Solar System LP 1984

hj1984

 

Dance When I Say Dance

Too Much Adrenaline

Fire To Burn

Electricity Respect

Knocked Down On the Dance Floor

You’re Gonna Miss Me

Sing No Evil LP 1985

hj84

Sing No Evil

Firecracker Firecracker

Dearest Darling

Rub Every Muscle

Too Bad About Elizabeth

House Of Voodoo

VELVET MONKEYS

Velvet Monkeys were another band of slightly older guys, led by Don Fleming. The studio material from said period is stylistically closer to a smooth new-wave sound even more than it is to murky DIY post-punk. The Velvet Monkeys in concert rocked pretty hard, though, with a full guitar sound hearkening back to Detroit. Spooky stuff and all, the Velvet Monkeys were also soul mates of Half Japanese, or so it seems when looking back and making assumptions. In the second half of the 1980s, Don Fleming moved to NYC and formed an indie superstar lineup of the Velvet Monkeys along with his main new band, B.A.L.L., which included Mr. Kramer of Shimmy Disc on bass.                

Future LP 1983

vmf

What Can I Do?

Future

World Of

You’re Not There

All The Same

“Colors” SP 1985

Colors Part I

Colors Part II

“Spooky” SP 1985

Spooky

Trance Band Process

NUCLEAR CRAYONS [1981-85]

Fronted by scary-looking Lara Lynch, Nuclear Crayons were DC’s earliest art punks and total misfits to emerge in the midst of the hardcore crowd. The epitome of local no-wave frustration, Nuclear Crayons’ diffuse songs were just barely held in place by inspired bass lines. (A parallel would be Tim Wright in DNA.) Following the example of Dischord, the band founded its own label, Outside Records, which issued Nuclear Crayons’ material and also managed to pull together an excellent V/A record, “Mixed Nuts Don’t Crack”, which documented hardcore and post-punk outcasts in the fall of ’82. Some of the negative energy accumulated by Nuclear Crayons was transferred into the sinister electronics of Lynch and guitarist Darin Drake’s next project,  The Earth Hell Band.

The only Nuclear Crayons show I played sober was at Gay Pride Day and that’s because the beer was on the other side of P Street Beach and I was still on my crutches and I couldn’t make it all the way down there. (Bernie Wandel)

Bad Pieces Seen Delivering The Foretold Conclusion Spin All When After Consummate Pieces Open LP 1984

Noisemaker

Anarchy Posers / Take Away the Faith

No Car

Blinded Youth

What’s Wrong With Us?

Street Noise

THE EARTH HELL BAND  Witches On Holiday LP 1986

Seen It Too

Devil’s Skull

Termination

CHALK CIRCLE [1981-83]

All-girl art-punk band influenced by Rough Trade feminist punk and post-punk. Just like Nuclear Crayons, Chalk Circle tried to make a place for themselves in public among the hectic hardcore bands and zigzagging underage punks. In the final stage of Chalk Circle, just before splitting-up, Sharon Cheslow joined Colin Sears’ band Bloody Mannequin Orchestra, comprised of punks that gathered around WGNS studio / label.

As the DC hardcore scene became more macho and less about a tight-knit group of friends, we found greater support with an older group of people. We always thought of punk as having no rules, but when hardcore became more popular there developed a code to which Chalk Circle didn’t adhere. Nonetheless, Anne and I loved hardcore and went to all the shows. We went to all the Minor Threat, S.O.A., GI, and Youth Brigade shows and loved to dance. (Sharon Cheslow)

The Slap

Subversive Pleasure

Their attempts (demos, Inner Ear sessions, live tracks) were recently collected on “Reflection” LP (2011) on Mississippi Records / Post Present Medium (USA). Support this one-off release!

ccreflection

NO TREND [1982-88] (Ashton, MD)

Post-hardcore, post-punk, antagonistic band battling against everything, while also giving heartfelt tips for teens. Their sound-as-weapon was initially built on PiL and Flipper templates by guitarist Frank Price, and often directed at annoying hardcore brats by the wicked leader of the No Trend Troupe, Jeff Mentges, aka cowboy Cliff Ontego. Voluptuous sex vampire Lydia Lunch moved in their circles, too. Through various core and expanded lineups, No Trend changed a lot during their five years of existence. But the fiery energy and bile stayed with them until the end, no matter how unhinged or “pop” they became. It’s a mystery why No Trend never ended up on Alternative Tentacles.  If it weren’t for the “Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex” album, issued on Touch & Go in 1987, they would probably be even less known than they are today. Watch out for the Drag City delight: “Too Many Humans/Teen Love”, a box set anthology of recorded material from 1983–84. Highly recommended! Fingers crossed for No Trend Box Part II: 1985–86.

Take a look inside and decide: Too Many Humans/Teen Love Box Set

No Trend EP 1983

Mass Sterilization Caused by Venereal Disease

Cancer

Teen Love

Too Many Humans LP 1983

Fashion Tips For the ’80s

Reality Breakdown

Too Many Humans

A Dozen Dead Roses LP 1985

All Of Nothing

Tear You Apart

Karma Nights

When Death Won’t Solve Your Problem LP 1985 (compilation album)

One Last Dream

Killing Me

Two Seconds Till Non Existence

MISSION FOR CHRIST

Post-hardcore band that existed on the margins of the margins. Their sole single, on No Trend’s tiny vanity label, shows a UK post-punk influence, but the other tracks not chosen for the record reveal hardcore roots. Mission For Christ were friends with No Trend, so I assume they were pals within a sea of adversaries. Spread the Gospel, love thy enemy!

Pennies From Hell SP 1984

mfc

Pennies From Hell

Penny Dub

The rest of the ’83 Session:

Psycho

He and She

Smash the Rich

Poseur

Stay the Course

Kick Me

Nancy Reagan

You can easily find the cool CD collection “The Complete Sessions” (2012) for very little money, on hardworking Ektro Records from socialist Finland. Fuck vinyl; CDs are reliable and cheap products!!

UNITED MUTATION

Basement hardcore band with bizarre psychedelic touches and growling echoes of future death metal. If the players hadn’t heard the Meat Puppets or Rudimentary Peni during United Mutation’s gestating phase, they must have been intrinsically deranged. Or they were just dropping a lot of acid in the practice space. Unlike other DC hardcore groups, United Mutation rarely played live. However, they managed to self-release two essential and singular seven-inch EPs. The first one, Fugitive Family, from ’83, was issued as a split release with Dischord.

Fugitive Family EP 1983

Fugitive Family / Plain Truth

Final Solution

Passout

I Know a Place

Own Way

Lice And Flies…

Rainbow Person EP 1985

Infinite Regression

Fat Louie

Take Your Pick

Zone

Manna

Here is brand new LP collection of United Mutation’s recording sessions from 1982-83 put out by Radio Rahim: Dark Self Image (2020).

UM2020

9353

Another group of drugged-up malcontents in a psychedelic, Day-Glo world of their own. They loved punk rock, the post-punk music coming from the UK, and the glam rock of their childhoods. They hated the macho side of hardcore, with all its adolescent-testosterone vapors in the air, as much as the ominous atmosphere of the Government-Army-Media triumvirate that was seated in and around Washington, DC. In Bruce Merkle Hellington’s words, The Stranglers & Punishment of Luxury were some sort of guiding sound to turn to as the starting points for 9353’s art adventure. They were also in awe of Killing Joke. These young freaks produced two smooth (but haunted!) records. And, judging from the extended CD versions of those albums, 9353 were almost as prolific as the Smiths or Hüsker Dü during a brief, two-year period. Every single song is worthy of your short attention span. I dare you! Great stuff, highly recommended!

What 9353 was? It was me and two clowns, Vance and Jason, and a drum box. We played 6 shows that way until Dan Joseph joined the band. I ended up doing all the flyers, all the managing. By the time Dan joined the band I was already burnt. Dan joined at the end of May ’83. (Bruce Merkle)

To Whom It May Consume LP 1984

With All Respect

Color Anxiety

Ghost

Famous Last Words

We Are Absolutely Sure There Is No God LP 1985

Spooky Room

Bypartizoa

Who Does What & Why

Americana Schizo

GRAND MAL (Würm Baby) [1983-85]

The simple sex beat and moderately dark overtones of Grand Mal’s plodding garage rock had real potential. But by the time of their only recording, the post-punk influence had partly faded away. Unfortunately, they didn’t become rhythmically more diverse. The goth side of the band, Linda LeSabre (drums) and Don Diego (bass), would move to LA and continue in style with Death Ride 69, while singer Joe Aronstamn and guitarist Marc Lambiotte would surface in the Holy Rollers , who joined Dischord in the late 1980s. Malcolm Riviera (from the Velvet Monkeys) also played guitar.

We went to Washington Cathedral with t-shirts that said “Jesus lied” on the back. We got into philosophical arguments discounting the existence of God. It was totally packed. (Joey Aronstamn)

Binge Purge mini LP 1985

DNO

Fear To Feel

Fever Dream

Live at Wilson Center, Washington DC 01/28/1984

Hollywood Babylon

Binge Purge

Ice Age (Joy Division)

Grand Mal Bandcamp.

TROUBLED GARDENS [1984-1985]

Short lived and (mostly) instrumental post-punk trio led by multi-talented Dan Joseph (guitar, synthesizer and drum machine programming) who played drums in 9353 and Crippled Pilgrims at the same time. Troubled Gardens left behind “Troubled Gardens Cassette” (collection of 4-track bedroom recordings) & slick sounding mini LP “Eden Revisited”, which can recall late period 9353, On-U Sound and 4AD (Dif Juz). Dan Joseph is a free-lance composer, curator and writer based in New York City nowadays.

troubled gardens

 

Voice Carryovers

Silent City

Domination Dub

Troubled Gardens Bandcamp.

MADHOUSE

Madhouse was Monica Richards’s midperiod phase in a long line of artistic realizations with gothic inclinations. She traveled from her hardcore punk roots in Hate From Ignorance to the death rock of Madhouse to Strange Boutique’s art-rock sophistication and farther away still… Madhouse could be seen as an energetic American youth’s crude, raw take on Siouxsie and the Banshees’ post-punk done, so it comes out closer to death rock than to the British pop stylings that the band might have idolized. However, Monica’s channeling of Siouxsie is quite spooky. Strange Boutique was a continuation and refinement of Madhouse, with the late Fred “Freak” Smith (ex-Beefeater) as the guitarist par excellence.

We played Wilson Center and I really made a mistake ‘cause it was new generation of skinheads. We were playing and they were throwing lit cigarettes at me and saying things like, “Take off your shirt”. I’d written an anti-rape song and I said “This next song is about rape, which I’ve been through”. These stupid boys, who just discovered their penises, all said “Fuck you!” Man, I was so angry. That made me never want to play or go to a hardcore show again. (Monica Richards)

Madhouse mini LP 1985

Repulsion

Cries

Toss Up

Your Fear

REPTILE HOUSE (Baltimore, MD)

Art-punk band from Baltimore, a somehow nonexistent city that, in terms of punk microcosms, was always stuck in the shadow of Washington, DC. (Am I wrong?) Their debut seven-inch EP was released as a split between Dischord and the Druid Hill label. As captured on tape, the bass lines were still heavy post-punk, as was some of the guitar playing. But an upbeat vibe from the power-soul vocals of Daniel Higgs (then known as Daniel V. Strasser) and the swift drumming of London May (who would join Glenn Danzig in Samhain the following year) led them away from the shade of those gothic mansions in Baltimore’s historic quarter. This EP is an intro to DC’s Revolution Summer ’85. Years later, the mighty Lungfish and its modern, psychedelic rock slithered and crawled out of Reptile House’s remains, in a surreal feat of cosmic zoology.

Keel Haul Love

Social Champion

Mrs. Rain

Sleekstak Weather

PUSSY GALORE

In their earliest phase, Pussy Galore were antagonistic garage-rock wannabes who brought sex back into teenage R’n’R (as resurrected by the Cramps, amongst others), while melding it with Euro metal-bashing. Not-so-distant echoes of the car crash in No Trend’s “Teen Love” are present in the grooves. Hello, Junkyard America! The white noise of Pussy Galore’s first seven-inch EP is a more-than-appropriate intro to their very primitive rock, with Jon Spencer’s European influences still audible (EN, MES & Brix, Nick Cave). Soon after, Pussy Galore left DC for NYC. Over the years, they became better and then worse, or just jaded. (Their slightly disappointing and bluesy swan song, Historia de la Musica Rock, even waved goodbye with a tune referencing “Revolution Summer.”) By the next decade, PG had finally split into three very cool fractions: Boss Hog, Royal Trux & The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

Die Bitch

HC Rebellion

Constant Pain

Car Fantasy

THE OBSESSED

The Obsessed were legitimate metal torchbearers in the metropolitan DC area, giving off similar vibes to the premium local doom band Pentagram. Mastermind and legendary guitarist-vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich crossed paths with DC hardcore punks and, although he is first and foremost a metalhead, he loved to attend shows by bands such as Bad Brains and Void. At some point, even Vance Bockis (soon to be 9353’s glamorous bassist) sang for the Obsessed. In 1983, the Obsessed put out a crippled but nevertheless beautiful debut s/t EP on their own. It sounds weak (especially the rhythm tracks), but that murkiness gives it an extra gothic aura. A demo tape from ’84 and sessions for a long-playing album, planned for 1985, fared better. However, the boss of Metal Blade Records proclaimed the Obsessed to be obsolete and hardly marketable (compared to Slayer and the thrash metal brigades), and so the label declined to issue Purple Tape ’85. Disillusioned, Wino broke up the band and accepted a call from Saint Vitus, with whom he spent the second half of the decade as a born-too-late rocker. When he reactivated the Obsessed in 1990, his home state was full of heavy new bands. Maryland’s branch of Doom America bore fruit: Internal Void, Iron Man, Unorthodox, Wretched, etc.

We heard about a recording studio that was ridiculously cheap from our friends in Pentagram. Catch A Buzz Studio. We made an appointment for two days: one day to set up and get levels, the next day to record. The second day the engineer was gone and there was a note that said, “Got tickets to the Superbowl but my brother is gonna engineer”. Well, his brother didn’t know shit but we recorded anyways. I was told somewhere that the snare sound is like an empty pizza box, but we believed. We had a radical printer who was the Marines’ printer so he laid out a beautiful wraparound cover and we had our own label: Invictus (Victory). We believed. One day my new boss said, “Hey, they reviewed your record in the new Kerrang”. I was excited and jammed down to get it. It was reviewed by someone who is now my friend but it was a review that left me sad and disheartened…still I believed an carried on to fulfill my dreams. (Scott “Wino” Weinrich)

The Obsessed EP 7” 1983

Iron & Stone

Indestroy

Sodden Jackal

Concrete Cancer (Promo Demo Tape) 1984

Concrete Cancer

Feelingz

Mental Kingdom

Hiding Masque

The Obsessed s/t LP aka Purple Tape (recorded in ’85, released in ’90 by Hellhound)

Live at the Bayou ’85

Ground Out / Feelingz

Concrete Cancer

Mental Knigdom

Iron and Stone

Indestroy / Kill Ugly Naked

UNREST

unrestep

Unrest EP 7” 1985

So You Want to Be a Rock’n’Roll Star
Scott & Zelda
The Hill

 

Well, this post maybe isn’t ideal for month of June (in Northern Hemisphere) but come back after the summer, in October!

EDIT: The earliest recorded material (debut EP and cassettes from ’85) by important local anglophile band Unrest, led by Mark Robinson of Teenbeat records, wasn’t included initially because I don’t have it in my digital archives. But I decided to add Unrest anyway. I am finally being proactive! Looking fwd into the near future. I couldn’t leave out Troubled Gardens as well so they are in now. Infantile fun just never ends…

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Zagreb [1986-90] vol I: Dark (Side of Town)

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.

phanta88phanta

Demonstration tapes (1988-89)

Alex

Grad tihog očaja

Ja gledam svojim očima

Poziv u raj 2

Poludi!

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.

Soba

Bol

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.

endymion

The Man With The Golden Eyes

I Have Control

She’s Only Sleeping

The Dragons

Something’s Gonna Happen (live)

Nemesis (1988-89)

Short lived and forgotten band that cherished ethereal goth vibes channeled through female singer.

Icarus

Silent War

Stranger

The Autumn Song

Nezaboravan san o… (mid 1980s – 1990)

Nezaboravan san o… (demo tape)

nzo...

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

Nemamo

Lamenti blijedih zora

Hladni simboli

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

Reci Om!

041

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)

Declino. La città è quieta… ombre parlano.

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)

peggio punx

Guerra

Noia

Linea diritta

Solitudine

La mia vita

Credi di…

Declino – Declino (1984)

declino

Rivolta e negazione

Scelte imposte

Mortale tristezza

Terra bruciata

Coscienza distruttiva

Nessuna fiducia

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 Sköl could 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: SkölBlitzkriegSköl 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.

 

 

Siberia

Diaframma ‎– Siberia (1984)

siberia

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.

Neogrigo

Specchi d’acqua

Desiderio del nulla

Siberia

 

diaframma

Diaframma pre 1984

Englishmen in Europe

Meninblack in Europe (revisited)

A bittersweet tribute to synth makeover and aural decline of The Stranglers. They couldn’t fall from grace anyhow.

Manifesto

Aural Sculpture Manifesto

Feline (1982-83)

It’s A Small World

All Roads Lead To Rome

Paradise

European Female

Savage Breast

Ships That Pass In The Night

Aural Sculpture (1983-85)

No Mercy

Here And There

Laughing

Let Me Down Easy

Souls

North Winds Blowing

Through the looking-glass, and what they found there…

Meninblack in USSR

Vladimir and Olga*

Vladimir and the Beast

Hot Club

Vladimir Goes to Havana

*The strange circumstances which lead to Vladimir and Olga requesting rehabilitation in a Siberian health resort as a result of stress in furthering The People’s Policies

stranglers-ljubljana-1978

Summer of ’78 – The Stranglers in Ljubljana & Zagreb

Ortodossia II°

Sunday morning in a commune house in the outskirts of Reggio Emilia with communist art-punks CCCP-Fedeli alla linea. Listening to their punk filosovietici. Slowly sipping prime quality espresso (instead of doing it properly in two fast gulps, like all true Italians do) & getting flashbacks (some of them mildly disturbing).

cccp

CCCP-Fedeli alla linea

CCCP-Fedeli Alla Linea Ortodossia II° ‎(12″) Attack Punk Records 1985

ortodossia ii

Live In Pankow

Mi Ami?

Spara Jurij

Punk Islam

I like this red 12” and all CCCP-Fedeli alla linea records that I’ve heard so far. “Ortodossia II°” is thrilling art-punk achievement, recommended for all lost cases who dig rhythm machine postpunk in the frontlines, side by side with The Three Johns, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and Italo-American band Grande Nero among the other comrades. I wasn’t aware of  CCCP-Fedeli alla linea existence back in the 1980s. Their music wasn’t spread on tapes and listened in my hometown. Perhaps few copies of original LPs still could be found in record collections of older punks from Ljubljana, Pula or Rijeka. As a side note, in 1984 the same small label Attack Punk Records issued hard-core punk EP “Corpus Delicti” by U.B.R. from Ljubljana and made it part of international HC community even more.

Live in Mosca, live in Budapest
Live in Varsavia
Live in Praga, live in Sofia
Live in Pankow
Haupstadt der D.D.R
Haupstadt der D.D.R
Haupstadt der D.D.R

Compagni est-europei
Uno sforzo ancora
Dalle sale da ballo
Un po’ più che di merda
Un’opinione pubblica
Un poco meno stupida
Dalle sale da ballo
Un po’ più che di merda

Voglio rifugiarmi
Sotto il piano di Varsavia
Voglio un piano quinquennale
La stabilità
Live in Mosca, live in Budapest
Live in Varsavia
Live in Praga, live in Sofia
Live in Pankow

Ost Berlin, West Berlin
Ost Berlin, West Berlin
Ost Berlin, West Berlin
Ost Berlin, West Berlin
Trance Europa express
Trance Europa express
Trance Europa express
Trance Europa express

 

I am glad that there isn’t a line “live in Belgrado” in the song text. I did appreciate belonging to non-aligned Third World and having a passport. At the age of sixteen I could hop on a bus and go to Trieste (window) shopping for records without problems. In addition to that, I am thankful for all the modest products of Socialism available at home – licensed new wave and punk rock albums from US/UK major labels which were generally well pressed by Jugoton label. Those days I’d look in any direction but cold and frightening north-east where CCCP sprawled. Today: Voglio un piano quinquennale. La stabilità. New Europe without solid welfare state is utterly pointless. Trance Europa indeed. Tanz debil / ganz debil.

Psicopatico Party or Sick Soundtrack

Saturday night in a discotheque in Bologna, Italia.

Italo Disco d/evolution of Gaznevada? Non mi frega niente. Mi piacciono i sintetizzatori italiani.

gaznevada

Psicopatico Party (1983) Italian Records

Whispers

Fashion Crime

I.C. Love Affair

A. Perkins

Psicopatico Party

Sick Soundtrack (1980) Italian Records

1980

An important New Wave recording for Bella Italia, I’d say (as a casual retro listener / onlooker). There is only one cardinal sin – Gaznevada gave up on the mother tongue entirely on their debut album which leaves me a bit heartbroken everytime I listen to “Sick Soundtrack”. During the time of finding their own voce dadaistico, the band were trying out new sounds arriving from USA so one can hear traces of Devo, Talking Heads, Ramones, James Chance & The Contortions, Blondie etc.

Going Underground

Shock Antistatico

Pordenone UFO Attack

Japanese Girl

Now I Want To Kill You

Nevadagaz / Blue TV Set (1980)

 

A great single.

Blue TV Set

Gaznevada (1979) Harpo’s Music (tape)

The opening number “Everybody Enjoy The Reggae Music” could be an obstacle because they couldn’t pull off white reggae nor make fun of it properly. It’s simply a warming up track  for wild Gaznevada ride.  Dada punk-rock bolognese presented on this tape was already quite competent. Plus Gaznevada here sang in Italian, la lingua di popolo!

Mamma, dammi la benza!

Donna di gomma

Criminale

Teleporno TV

Nevadagaz

Viva Italia!

Don’t Look Back: Skopje (SR Macedonia)

Vol VII: Rock and Pop Music in Skopje in the 1980s

(incomplete overview)

*subject to change*

od-drugata-670x300

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. 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.

skoplje rock fest 84 yugopapir

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 mainly remained undocumented and the scarce demo recordings are unavailable.

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 magazine Džuboks. He was also the film director of their music video “Hot day in Mexico”. It’s a shame that at least one single track on their only record was not sung in Macedonian. 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.

bastion

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. Surprisingly, 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.

padot

Gradot e nem (1986-90)

Mizar II put out two critically acclaimed gothic rock (or deathrock) 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.

mizar

Mizar – Mizar ‎(1988, Helidon) – the most important rock album from Macedonia

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.

lola v stain

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.

anastasia

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.

arhangel

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 end.


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 [1985]
Badmingtons – Doađa sabota [1985]
Badmingtons – Moram li jas? [1985]
Bastion – Deca sunca [1984]
Bastion – Mesec u šolji [1984]
Bastion – Molitva [1984]
Padot na Vizantija – Početok i kraj [1985]
Padot na Vizantija – Istata sostojba [1985]
Aporea – Dzvezdo javljajušta solnce [medieval]


Gradot e nem (1986-90)

Aporea – Na rjekah vavilonskih [ancient]
Mizar – Gradot e nem (live) [1987]
Mizar – Stoj [1988]
Mizar – Devojka od bronza [1988]
Mizar – Hoden že [1988]
Aporea – Kondak Sv. Prohoru Pčinjskomu [undated]
Telo-nauka sovršena – Grešnici [1988]
Telo-nauka sovršena – Niz vekovi so grevovi [1988]
Telo-nauka sovršena – Plastična zemlja [1988]
Arhangel – Arhangel ’80 – ’89 (live) [1989]
Telo-nauka sovršena – Son (live) [1989]
Lola V. Stain – Makova polja 1 [1990]
Lola V. Stain – Makova polja 2 [1990]
Lola V. Stain – Rani jadi 1 [1990]
Lola V. Stain – Rani jadi 3 [1990]
Mizar – Abja mem [1990]
Mizar – Veligden [1990]

Telo-nauka sovršena – Nebo [1990]
Mizar – Običen čovek [1990]