The Blank Stare is a “project focused on mapping the Slovak experimental music scene through series of documentary movies”. Technically, the second episode easily beats the first one. While the first episode (starring Urbanfailure, András Cséfalvay, Triple Sun and Jacques Kustod) was drowned in dialogue, this time it follows a simple plot - three live concerts of three experimental music projects, and after each concert a short interview with the musicians follows. All three gigs were shot in one evening in Cvernovka, an industrial hall in Bratislava, formerly a textile factory, now an artist space which hosts artists studios and a gallery, even rehearsal rooms in the past. It is also a historical industrial monument facing a pending demolition.
The first slot of the new edition is dedicated to Jonáš Gruska, a Bratislava-based sound artist, known for making his own electronic instruments (such as the Elektrosluch, a device allowing to listen to electromagnetic fields), site-specific compositions (like his compositions for ventilation pipes or bells in streets of Bratislava) and running his own experimental music label LOM. In this movie, you can see him operating a pair of ventilators dynamically controlled by electronic circuits, or a tape echo made from old reel tape recorder. His concert with all those modular synths, blinking LEDs, cosmic bleeps and half-ambient buzz reminds of operating a spacecraft panel or a science lab.
The second concert is provided by the experimental duo БРАДА (“beard”). The first member of the project is Boris Sirka, born in Snina (east Slovakia), known mainly as a visual artist, also the former member of the audio-visual project BIOS combining noise, black metal and medieval aesthetics. Nenad Branković was born in Serbia, but since he studied visual arts in Bratislava, he now lives in Slovakia, and is mostly known as a visual artist and graphic designer. The two got together because of their common interest in dark music (even black metal, for instance), and their name points to their common orthodox Christian background (beard like symbol of orthodox pop, but also because “the beard never stops, it always grows”). Despite their visual arts background, this time they don’t use any visuals. Their show consists of slow, dark drones with a slight post-metal atmosphere using a tape player, gramophone, bow-played guitar, synths or processed vocals, preferring analogue sounds to digital.
The next concert stands in sharp contrast to БРАДА’s gig, and definitely is the most accessible one for the uninitiated listener - Sky To Speak provides us with steady rhythms, in a more optimistic vein and dreamy atmospherics, a sort of cross between minimal techno, dub and shoegaze with a bit of psychedelia. Sky To Speak is in fact a two-member audio-visual project, but this time we get to see only the “audio” part of the project, personified by Matěj Kotouček concentrating on his laptop and a few synths or controllers. Though he is originally from the Czech Republic, he moved to Bratislava because of his connections with the experimental scene in this town. He has also released an EP on Exitab label, a Slovak label focusing on experimental electronics or experimental rock releases.
This article was supported by the Intenda Foundation.