Gavrilov princip’s hometaping experiments
2 weeks ago, 9 July 2014  ·   0 notes

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Our shadows will be roaming through Vienna,
wandering through the courts, frightening the lords.

(Princip’s prison cell inscription immortalized in a Belgrade graffiti)

On 28. June 2014 a hundred years have passed since the Sarajevo assassination, an event which ignited a sequence of international reactions which will lead to First World War and ultimately mark the downfall of the Habsburg dynasty. An apt occasion then to present a release which commemorates the man who pulled the trigger on the tottering dinosaur of imperialism in Central Europe.

Claimed by leftists and nationalists alike, Gavrilo Princip is hard to classify by today’s criteria. He was Yugoslav nationalist who believed in national unity, the organic bond of language and blood and their progressive role which drives the world forwards[1], but in the same time he was also a liberationist, an anti-authoritarian figure who drew heavily from the anarchist tradition. From his standpoint, nationalist and liberationist ideas were not in necessary collision and, like many of his comrades from Mlada Bosna, he often oscillated between right-wing and left-wing politics in a way which may appear strange today.

But rather then to further dwell upon matters resolved by serious historians 40 years ago (blissfully unaware of the forthcoming revisionist frenzies within the various micro-contexts of post-communist Eastern Europe), we propose a much more interesting alternative – a détournement.

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Poseta (Serbian for “Visitation”) is a 1998 self-released cassette of a short-lived hometaping group Gavrilov princip active in Kragujevac (Serbia, then part of rump FR Yugoslavia, successor state of SFRY) from 1993 to 1999.

Gavrilov princip (Serbian for “Gavrilo’s principle”, a pun on the name of Gavrilo Princip) was a joint collaborative effort of Miodrag Saramandić from Aranđelovac (Serbia), a local demo veteran and instigator of a few DIY bands which remained unbeknown to majority of alternative music publics in Serbia, and Predrag Petrović alias Phantom, a legend of the Yugoslav hometaping network from Kragujevac (Serbia) responsible for a host of DIY experimental music projects like Fast Deadboy[2] (1983-1993, 1995-), Rubbishmen alternative jazz (1984-1986) and Phantom (circa 1995), DIY punk/experimental labels such as Dead Tapes and Phantom Tapes as well as fanzines like Instant gladna igra (Serbian for “Quick hungry game”), Phantom and Larynx of the Fast Deadboy, etc.

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An interview with sound artist Svetlana Maraš
1 month ago, 22 June 2014  ·   5 notes

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Establishing experimental and improvised music in Belgrade is a challenge: there are just a few funding opportunities, a conservative music education and a missing infrastructure. But musicians as the sound artist and composer Svetlana Maraš are moving back to Belgrade after years abroad and build up a new scene – with enthusiasm, good ideas and international collaborations. In this interview Svetlana speaks about her enthusiasm of living in her home town again, how she uses the laptop as an instrument in improvised music, and samples that attract her. Interview by Theresa Beyer from Norient.

Svetlana, six years ago, after your studies at the Belgrade music academy, you decided to leave your home country. What were the reasons at this point in your life?

At this time, Belgrade wasn’t really the best place to be. Music studies in Serbia were quite conservative. I wanted to learn things that weren’t possible to learn in the academic environment. I also felt that the system was slowing me down. I had a lot of creative energy and I felt that I could progress much faster in some better environment. That’s why I needed to go abroad. I found the Media Lab Helsinki, a school where I could learn about contemporary music in relation to new technology and sound arts. It turned out to be a wellspring of knowledge and ideas and one of the best decisions in my musical career.

Two years ago, after finishing your Masters, you decided to come back to Belgrade. Has the city changed?

Yes. The atmosphere in the city was getting pretty good, so I decided to stay in Belgrade. There appeared to be many other people who came back from their studies abroad. Although having different fields of expertise (some of us being sound artists, composers, instrumentalists), we all had a good academic background, lots of experience in playing improvised music and – what’s most important – we had this enthusiasm to establish our own music scene in Belgrade. With joined forces we are nowadays promoting experimental music, e.g. by hosting artists in our monthly series ImprovE.

How this growing scene in Belgrade is different from traditional centres of experimental and contemporary music like Berlin, Paris and London?

Belgrade surely is no hotspot. There are not so many things happening here or least not so often and there is also very little or rather no money for culture. So we can do projects just on a smaller scale and with a lot of effort. However, we are on the European experimental music map: we all work a lot abroad and there is a lot of exchange. More and more young people are interested in improvisation, noise, sound art and also the audience - created around events as Ring-Ring Festival or ImprovE - is getting bigger. These are all good indicators: Belgrade has the potential to become the leading place for experimental music in the region and wider.

Let’s speak about the work you create in this stimulating atmosphere. It is mostly based on samples. Where are they coming from?

I started building my sample library years ago, spontaneously, and I keep adding new materials when I find them interesting enough. I also modify the old ones until they become something new and I classify them very accurately. I use mostly these glitchy, digital sounds and the recordings of amplified objects. I also use field recordings and I sampled prepared guitar and no mixing input board, as long as I edit these samples up to the point that I can’t recognise anymore where they are coming from. At a certain point they start to be something else. Step by step my library became well defined in terms of sound. I think that gives a certain stamp to all of my works.

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After floods comes Potop
1 month ago, 18 June 2014  ·   0 notes

The effect of music is various, to entertain, provide an escape from everyday mundanity, incite, excite, sedate, inspire or bore. Then there is music that evokes certain moods and vibes, that hovers somewhere between reality and dream, between conscious states and the subliminal. That perfectly expresses the circumstances of its origin, but also somehow manages to precisely adapt to the setting of the listener-the receiver.

Putopisi is a selection of four tracks - or sono/journeys - each more than 20-minute long. It is a minimalistic, hypnotising rhythmachinistic seance sometimes venturing into 4/4 technoid territory with random samples of disembodied radio voices, coated in a liquid psychotropic echo. The recordings were created in May 2014 with two WWII military tube radio receivers without antennas “in a leaking studio”, vitebsk 1920, in Brestovik, Serbia by Nikola Vitkovic, a highly active and one of the most noteworthy and diverse musicians to emerge from the Balkan underground. This, coincidentally, was the period when Serbia and Bosnia got mostly affected by cataclysmic floods. The proceeds from the album will thus be donated to the official fund for victims of the floods.

Vitkovic’s father used to be a radio amateur, his vintage radio transmitters and receivers having found new life in the hands of his son Nikola. A droney, hazy and meandering session, the omnipresent aquatic terror present liminally, adding the recordings a hazy, watery, coating.

"I spent two months in a village at my family house. I couldn’t bring anything except the most necessary things, so I decided it’d be the perfect occasion to try and make Putopisi, which I’ve had on my mind for quite some time," says Vitkovic. "I’m obsessed with those ‘watered down’ projects, which were very prolific / productive with dozens of albums or long box releases and it takes really a mining effort to get through it in quest for some ‘juice’ in there."

The name of the project is Putopisi, and in translation, it means “travelogues”. The gratification of listening to these tracks is not instant, but even more rewarding. It’s the anticipation of the climax, which is always distant, out of reach, and eventually, sublimates onto the whole listening experiences.

You can get the album (and support the flood victims) here.

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Meteorismo: Terrorismo
4 months ago, 21 March 2014  ·   0 notes

Meteorismo is a Finnish-Czech label, focusing on “weird music and sounds, lo-fi experiments, home made avantgarde, outsider music, freak out and all kinds of music which is does not fit anywhere.” And this is what you get, albeit the concept of “weirdness” is a strange one, “weirdness” is relative, and nowadays, when it has been co-opted ad nauseum, is weird still weird? Terrorismo is a result of a Federsel & Mäkelä "pretending to be experimental music curators". And it is not as weird as in inaccessible. There are the traces of various avantgarde sonic practices - the cut and paste, sampling, improvisation, plunderphonics, musique concrète. Then there is noise and the conscious use of the aesthetics of lo-fi, which usher in the 21st century.

This track by Slovak sound artists Andrej Danoczi features an absurd juxtaposition of a hilarious radio phoner of a religious zealot coupled with field recordings and various aural disturbances.

It’s not all sonic opulence though, there are sublime stripped-down songs like the one below.

A nice collection of “old-skool” practices, placed in a “new-skool” world, done without compromises, offered without pretensions.

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2013 in Serbian music by Nikola Vitkovic
6 months ago, 6 January 2014  ·   1 note

Nikola Vitkovic is a Belgrade-based promoter and label owner at Nauk, musician himself as the wonderful Magma Trakt and an overall expert on what is hot and what not in Serbia. Joking, he simply just has a good eye and ear for worthwhile music - old or new.

Serbian alternative scene has always been too safe. A typical local underground figure is a cool self-assured urban male student, who takes himself too seriously, but still has no guts nor madmanism it takes to make an impact with music. Striking a serious pose seems dandy, but without craziness and passion and adventurism, it won’t get you far.

Year 2013 finally spawned out several female fronted bands who unscrupulously swung an axe into this lukewarm male narcissism, showing once and for all that being cool is not cool. Here are some of them:


1. MUSICAL HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR?
Za Pokolj Duše is a kindergarden of bastards of all ages. Apart from virtual demonic pipe organs and occasional Tibetan growls, they play bafflingly simple garage punk, with abused lyrics and riffs stolen from mainstream pop rock, enhancing only worst sides of it - and of their bad selves. With such conservative instrumentation and source material, their self-exploitation of the rock genre is more radical, shocking, liberating and adventurous than any experimental / avantgarde project around. They might disagree, but what sets ZPD leagues above other exploitation acts is the lack of irony - they are rather self-ironic. It is a culturally incorrect mazo-torture porn feast, which turns the lack of agenda into the agenda, at the rate of 20 hits per 15 minutes [weather hits are ‘songs’ or ‘ananas-vodkas’]. And all that with an honest necrophile’s psychic hard-on.



2. DISCOVERY OF THE YEAR?
Aranka Makoš I Plaćene Daviteljke from Subotica and Bačko Gradište is another kind of beast. Although equally primitive and anarchic as ZPD, there is something primordial in their non-violent endlessly long [2+ minutes!] math kiddy progressively idiotic punk poems which always speed up and down, up and down. This cavewomen duo often sounds like 7 limbs playing together - not because they play masterfully, but quite the opposite - because they make so many mistakes - and that is exactly what makes them so unique. If they had an album, it would sit neatly on your shelf with Bada Dada and similar Hungarian primitive dada-punk. Cool listeners beware: this is the most instant brain-and-dancefloor cleaner of the season.



3. LOWPOINT IN TERMS OF MUSIC/SCENE OF THE YEAR?
Some alternative musicians’ persistence on professional approach to playing, performing, presenting and selling their music. Sure, it’s nice to secure yourself a place in a hierarchical pyramid of showbiz if you can, where the artist is above the club and where everything has a price tag. But such capitalist mentality has no place in true underground, because it turns its back on private no-budget initiatives, no-budget promoters and no-budget audience [that’s just 99% of the audience].

4. PERSONAL WISHES AND TIPS FOR 2014?
To see Serbia’s most secret deity Weapon God finally come out in public and release his dub-glitch-minimalistic gesamtkunstwerk in form of 40 x vinyl box. Well, you asked for “wishes”… So let’s keep our eyes on A Hogon’s Industrial Guide and No Basement Is Deep Enough!

You can read his 2012 tips here.

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