Blank Stare into Bratislava’s new underground scene
1 month ago, 11 March 2014  ·   2 notes

image A documentation of a scene that is fluid, happening, developing into various directions and styles. Blank Stare is a new audiovisual project that aims to document the fledgling Bratislava underground scene (you can read more about the city’s electronic scene in our features here, and here and here). We talked to the creators of the project to find out their motivations. You can check the first part of the series below.

Can you introduce your project and the concept?
The concept of the project is to start an art journal focused on the Slovak experimental and electronic scene. We would like to map it through short documentary films, mixes, podcasts, interviews and etc. The main idea of the project is to grow, so after the premiere of the video we plan to start releasing mixes. Since this is a DIY project we are in no hurry to release everything at once. Also we don’t intend to restrict ourselves to Bratislava only, we would very much like to map the entire country and if its within our powers to expand behind borders. We’re just starting local because of the possibilities we have in Bratislava.

What motivated you to start it right now?
In the beginning I just wanted to film some live material from the studio for Triple Sun, but then we thought of inviting some people to watch us perform this concert. And then we made a full concert in our living room. Once we had the webpage I started browsing similar concepts and began to think of ways to expand the project. The others were very supportive of my thoughts and so we shaped the core concept of the page together.

Is there anything specific about the Bratislava scene?
In my opinion the scene in Bratislava is very progressive, driven, forward thinking and has a very unique sound. The people I’ve met so far are constantly thinking of new ways how to produce sounds and compose music. Also the musical taste of the DJs based in Bratislava is very specific and I hope to capture it in the mixes we will release, because its very hard for me to describe it in words.

What kind of producers will you present, what are the criteria for selecting?
The criteria are very simple. The focus is on independent non-commercially released projects. For the films we will always try to choose projects that are diverse, so we have a nice variety of sounds and atmosphere. The friends we have asked to participate also recommend other projects so we’re just trying to make a universally interesting selection.

How often will you do it?
There will be 4 films per year, one for every season. The mixes are to go out once a month. This is our timetable so far.

 


2013 in Slovak music by Samčo, brat dážďoviek
3 months ago, 16 January 2014  ·   1 note

Samčo, brat dážďoviek is a Slovak musician and an enigma, with an affinity for subversion of national identities and all sorts of ideology recontextualisations. He is also an expert in obscure music, check out his article about the Czech and Slovak Bandzone scene here

1. Musical highlight of the year?

Being a big fan of local obscure music, I was pretty excited by the first “official” releases of Slovak unknown legends. VooDooMan from Bratislava is a true art-brut sound-artist and sort of “kutil" (a specific Czech/Slovak term for "do-it-yourself" with one difference; in socialist Czechoslovakia, being a kutil was not being a part subculture, but a necessity). Vacuum cleaner controlled by MIDI and such stuff, you know.

Noizy Days is sort of “the noiziest of” compilation by musician named Cadillac Face (again from Bratislava). This collection of really dirty, dark and sincere home-made indie pop songs makes 99% of Slovak indie-pop projects sound like your local synthfolklore wedding band.

Small/D.I.Y Slovak labels like LOM or Nomad Sky Diaries did their job exceptionally well; Jonáš Gruska from LOM also organised “ZVŮK”, a D.I.Y/guerilla festival of experimental music, almost secretly and right under a highway bridge over Danube in Bratislava. I also enjoyed the live gig of Czech oracle and esoteric TV guru Vlastík Plamínek, roaring his cute simple lyrics (“puppyyyyyy! puppyyyyyy!”) while frantically banging on shamanic drums, true harsh anti-music. And let’s not to forget the POKE festival between Košice and Prešov - in eastern Slovakia, where lots of people don’t even know, what a music festival is, it is nice to have a multi-media festival amid abandoned brickwork, loads of local artists along with international “stars”.

2. Discovery of the year?

A new source of Slovak bedroom-pop (along with casual small-town alternative rock/pop) has appeared: the music chart “Demovnica” on Radio_FM, where non-professional musicians can send their works. My favourite was “Leopardón”, homemade acoustic aww-pop from middle-Slovakian mountains. More and more musicians or labels release their work on audio cassettes, I’m getting sentimental. Besides the local scenes, I got pretty excited by Japanese toothbrushing training music videos for kids - onomatopoeic gargling and brushing combined with cute animals and catchy melodies.

3. Lowpoint in terms of music/scene of the year?

Though Košice became the European capital of culture and there were some interesting events here and there, the townhall did not obviously notice anything, and the live concerts they organized on the Main Street were as bad as they always have been. The R’n’B singer and #swagger Tomi Popovič recorded a song “Sorry, Girl, Your Body is Mine”, which was supposed to be a Slovak summer hit. Legendary novelty synthpop act “Miroslav Martin a Drahomíra Masaryková DUO" did not play a single live gig, even though they announced it (their recent summer hit, "Ruky nad hlavou"/"Hands up" was first-rate, though). Festival of experimental/dark ambient/noise/etc music in the ruins of Máriacsalád monastery (south Slovakia) was cancelled; a fate of local non-legal volunteerism (last year, people who attended, also helped to tidy up the ruins of the monastery, full of rubbish). Justin Bieber has announced he is retiring from music, and he disappointed his fans because he “used a bucket instead of toilet”.

4. Personal wishes and tips for 2014?

Looking forward for the first youtube festival of noise music, #InternetNoiseFestival at Feb 1., anyone can attend as a musician (some local noise heroes are already planning to). First world problem: want to see Kraftwerk live, but can’t afford to attend Pohoda festival. I’m awaiting the renaissance of phonograph cylinders and reel tapes. I’m awaiting big hit single(s) generated[composed] by computer software instead by human composer. And I desperately want to attend a march of Justin Bieber fans some day - I missed the recent one in Brno.


.soundscapes - Tides of Voltage
5 months ago, 21 October 2013  ·   2 notes

soundscapes is a pair of waveform explorers who like to experiment with compositions, arrangements, sequences and non-sequences..” The new Slovak project, emerging from the Bratislava techno and underground electronic scene, that has revolved around two clubs in the city - Fuga and the A4. soundscapes’ “Tides of Voltage" is a dark dronetastic soundscapey three-track EP, epic and exploratory, echoing the likes of Raime, Haxan Cloak or Shackleton. The band’s name is inobtrusive, prefering to blend in the environment, rather than stand out. And the music, in a way, mirrors this - a chillaxed soundscapey ride through droney electronics, rhythm-based and hypnotic. Though several parts are promising, with a potential to further develop on their upcoming releases.


VooDooMan - the sonic sorcerer from Bratislava
1 year ago, 1 March 2013  ·   4 notes

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The Slovak sonic sorcerer VooDooMan, based in Bratislava, one of the firm personas of the local noise/audio scene, revels in hypnotic aural fissures, disorienting journeys through mangled synapses, created in his own custom-built software. His prolific output counts numerous tracks, from 3 second to 80 minutes long, an endless stream of aural conscioussness. Some of his recent output can be checked via his podcast page, with a proper release expected in the near future.

Here are his descriptions:

This track is based on Acidmilk’s work. He did samples that are in the background. I used it to generate the sound. I concatenated 7 Acidmilk’s samples together, while the first is at the end of the song again, therfore the word “mix” in the name of the song. I used 128-bit float precision in rendering process. You can notice that 2 effect structures are in a lag compared to the samples, this is because there is longer buffer for counting average frequency of Acidmilk’s work that the effects mimic. Random-like clicks are caused by intentional imperferfection of schmitt trigger gate that is responsible for turning on and off the constant-frequency oscillator.



I’d like to mention this track is not about growing old, but about particular momentary state of your mind rather. Like you had stopped the timewatch and took a snapshot, though the picture is still in movement in your mind. I chosed name ‘freewheeler’ since the generator structure of the original sound that passed through was actually adjusting itself like a freewheeling system. I would like to dedicate this song to neutrinos, since I feel the colors of the resulting sounds in this song are like the neutrinos are penetrating the matter withouth (mostly) affecting it, or interacting with it.

Listen to our radio interview with VooDooMan here /in Slovak/.


Stratasoul – Hip Hop from Heaven
1 year ago, 30 January 2013  ·   1 note

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Listening to the Slovak producer Stratasoul is like a hot air balloon ride – floating and sinking into a magic aural stratosphere, bumping into a chunk of beats here, catching on a string of clinks and clanks there…so easy and carefree.

“I remember feeling fascinated when I first heared a sampled amen loop on an Atari ST computer,a gift from granddad. Without any musical knowledge or experience I set myself a goal to make music, out of fascination with something indescribable, which grew inside of me and I still could not explain, but I’m getting some hints now.”

Rarely does one come across a beatmaker whose music in not overtly dominated by the beat. It serves more as a backbone, a gentle anchor pulling together the invisible strings of infinite ethereal sounds and melodies that form probably the most pleasant sonic chaos your ears have ever met.

“Usually I’d start with some synth and basic sound design which fits my current mood, and then I’d search for chords with my shitty piano skills. I usually make a sketch instantly, and then edit it in a MIDI sequencer. Here suddenly I find myself in a process which is not of this world anymore and everything comes naturally. It actually takes a short time, but to me it seems like forever until a sketch of a track is made. Then the obsessive disorder takes place and fine-tuning of arrangements, etc.”

Stratasoul’s compositions feel like a dreamy stream of consciousness – a risky modus operandi, for it is only too easy to lose the listener on a trip where the next step is a surprise even to the guide.  Here, however, you press play, and before you realize, you find yourself lost in the subtle, yet firm hold of this hypnotizing sound.

What’s the trick? I believe it has to be love, and the sheer joy of creating and perceiving music without burdening this two-way process with a heavy message or complex meaning. This simple, unconscious way of expression has detail and depth that gets richer with each listen.

“When I write my music I feel overwhelmed by something. It’s as if I feel connected to some stream of calmness. I try to give an expression to what I feel at that moment, and that is why I value the very presence. It may sound megalomaniac, but I feel it in an intimate way. My music is an expression of my attitudes, sometimes naive, unsafe, you know luvly isles, honestly just sharing with people.”

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Like so many other electronic musicians these days, Stratasoul is mostly drawing the vocal part of his works from 90’s soul and r’n’b classics. Funnily enough, it is the interpretation of this already clichéd source that happens to be the most characteristic and unique trait of his sound. Instead of looping whole words, phrases or riffs, he deconstructs voices into fragments and sifts them through multiple effects. The result is a heavenly love message pronounced in an unknown muffled language, chipped and clumsy and shy, but full of warmth and sincerity.

“I think we are the kids of the onset of information and globalization age, so we are getting connected more and more through other aspects than our geographical or traditional cultural affinity.”

Indeed, Stratasoul’s music does not seem rooted in any realia – be it cultural, ethnic or social. In fact, it does not have anything to do with Earth at all. It is the sound of angels making hip hop on an imaginary island floating in the sky – hip hop from heaven. 

by Snezhana Bezus, find her at her blog Beatbucket.