BDY - when metal heads make electronics
1 week ago, 7 April 2014  ·   4 notes

This Slovak release seem to have popped up through my feed a couple of days ago out of nowhere and immediately caught my attention. It can be almost considered as an intentionally secret release, as this project has no label support nor have I noticed any promotion anywhere. Another remarkable fact is that BDY doesn’t live in Bratislava, where most of the Slovak electronic scene resides. A quick investigation and a couple of mutual friends have revealed that BDY currently lives in Žilina, and his main project is a sludge doom band called Möbius.

However, his 9 days EP sounds way different than output of Möbius, it is dark, minimal electronic music with a recognisable influence of Sandwell District, Blackest Ever Black, or Vatican Shadow. It has become quite common on the international music scene that metal musicians also moonlight in purely electronic projects, unfortunately this is not the case of the Slovak scene where the majority of metal heads remain loyal to the sound of guitars with only slight exceptions and their reaction towards different genres tends to be rather hostile. Therefore, it comes as a very pleasant surprise that BDY does music like this. Though practically nothing is written about the intentions or concept of this release.

The setting is melancholic and dark, despite the soft almost eerie auralisms being used here. No distortions or sounds over the top, percussions and repetitive pads singing mournful melodies are arranged in a minimal manner and composed to the backdrop of gloomy soundscapes. The dark ambiance and overall mood of 9 days EP is really immersing.

It is not the cutting edge type of release which would overwhelm you with unexpected or avantgarde sounds, walls of noise or complicated patterns. But it doesn’t really matter. Humbleness and the way how this release was shared with the outer world indicates that BDY doesn’t strive for fame and glory. Still, it is a good lesson and proof that darkness and misanthropy are not dependent on distorted sounds of black metal, doom or sludge. Hopefully this was not the last BDY’s trip into these realms of darkness as all the tracks have promising potential. And let’s hope that this article will cheer him up to carry on with this project so it will not remain shelved in the murky waters of the internet.

by b.arctor

The Pink Cowboys of Forum Absurdum
2 weeks ago, 2 April 2014  ·   0 notes

One can always find something charming in a primitive and almost vulgar expression of music. This split tape serves as a shining example. The newly founded platform Forum Absurdum with strong connections to the Bratislava underground venue Fuga, one of the hubs for most of the alternative acts hailing from Slovak capital. This release represents a more abrasive and brutal side of the club’s sound.

Ružoví Kovboji (Pink Cowboys) is a project with a long history going back the Urbsounds Collective, one of the cornerstones of the Slovak noise/experimental scene. Their live performances are well known in the local community partly because of the visual aesthetic of RBNX and Urbanfailure: suits, ties and coloured wigs are their uniforms when they collaborate in this noisy, distorted and messy ride filled with harsh noise sounds, distorted kicks and frantic screams.

Silly lyrics about forest animals; relationships between the human and the machine, universe and all those important things  are presented as hilarious duets. These angry tracks are swapped with minimalistic noisy compositions put through the almighty distortion pedals only to return to the frantic blast of the synths and drum machine (again, aided with a solid dose of distortion). If Alec Empire didn’t take himself so seriously, he would probably produce music similar to Ružoví Kovboji and still, he would sound quite lame. This is hilariously delightful and still not defying the punk roots and ethics, from which Urbsounds collective came from.

Bartek is the proud member of the Lazy Bastards soundsystem, a breakcore colective, and also one of the main men behind Fuga. His side of the tape oscillates between classic breakcore sounds, all bits and pieces uncompromisingly swept through filters and total randomness which, in the final run, comes close to a rhythmic harsh noise with a good old gabber kick supervising all of this. Surprisingly, it sounds fresh, despite breakcore itself being a dead platform, which has not really progressed for a couple of years. Ružoví Kovboji shine, nevertheless, Bartek’s round is also worth of listening.

Tapes were made for music like this. Listening to the release from this medium makes it even more fucked up and saturated, like a pool of pure sonic piss blasting through the speakers of your boombox bouncing on the trashcan in a really dirty backyard. Forum Absurdum are not following any trends, they are the direct descendants of Bratislava’s old school underground and are proud as hell to do that. Something tells me that their next output will be in a similar vein. This tape is laced with a good old punk spirit, a lovely artefact. 

by b.arctor

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.


The shape of sound: Sound Sleep’s psychedelic kaleidoscope
1 month ago, 5 March 2014  ·   0 notes

Exitab, the Slovak label, is on fire. The handful of releases that have come out in the last 6 months, make for an impressive manifest of the Slovak alternative scene, mostly (but, not completely) spear­headed by this label. Sound Sleep came out only couple of weeks after their last release and if you’ve heard about Dead Janitor, hailing from eastern Slovakia, then you are on the right track to find out who is behind the album called Shape. Two 15 minute long tracks are released on the tape which is becoming quite a popular tool of trade on Exitab.

First of all, what is the difference between these two guises - Dead Janitor and Sound Sleep? The most obvious difference is a more psychedelic sound relying on the sonic experiments with various synths, samples and noises. In comparison with Dead Janitor’s IDM based work, which, by his own words, is heavily influenced by post­punk of the 80’s and revolves around glitchy polyrhythms, this, on the other hand, is more beatless stuff albeit still delivering a a repetitive lecture in heavy interpretation of an acid trip into a concrete jungle, a topic that is quite common in the ouvre of the contemporary electronic Slovak producers as an antidote to the dancefloor-centric. Gradually evolving atmospheres in tracks sometimes come really close to the sound of the Bristol­-based label Subtext with its low bass-heavy drones and rawness on the first side of the tape. 

Small themes and motives emerge on both sides, slowly sliding from one to the other. Second Shape is an arpeggio filled jam filled with crackles and quite organic sounds recalling a night picnic by an intoxicated pond. Crazy and sick moods consisting of mutated voices counting to 10, a repetitive vocal reminding us about the constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America and possibly a sample of William S. Burroughs looped.

Reading this may sound as quite an insane combination, but surprisingly, it works. All of this is carefully built together in a homogeneous way. Lots of sounds and textured layers appear and fade into oblivion. Tracks are passing by smoothly and there is always something extra which pops up and keeps you listening. And yeah, beats are also present but not as the main driving force. Distorted and heavy kicks are a companion to the rest of the soundscale and its more about the equality than master­-slave principle. It’s a disturbing listen in terms of atmosphere, definitely not in terms of the final composition.

And that’s maybe the problem of the medium chosen for this release. I really don’t understand why  Exitab recently started to put everything out on tape? Is it for the sake of a physical fetish, or trying to keep up with the latest  trend? Tape is great, but definitely not a good medium for all kind of music. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the option to listen to this from tape, but Sound Sleep is based on rich layers of textures and weird, ambient melodies and this can be possibly harm it when played from the tape. But this is just a guess and maybe useless rant, as I got my hands on the digital release only. Still, worth listening and a nice contribution to the ever-expanding Exitab catalogue which is now turning more dirty and gritty with each and every release.

by b.arctor

Sekta Obetí - the very attractive mysery of the Eastern smalltown
1 month ago, 20 February 2014  ·   0 notes

The original, 16-minute long EP called Obete Sekty was not only one of the best releases that the Slovak label Exitab put out, it can also, without any doubt, be considered as one of the best Slovak alternative releases of the last decade. The project, which was originally recorded almost 10 years ago was finally released in 2011 and now, after three years, Tomáš Ferko also known as Teapot has decided to revisit this piece, strongly connected with the memories of his hometown, Prešov, with the help of his friends.

The selection of the contributors invited to the project mainly consists of artists whose origins can be traced to Eastern Slovakia which is also the main concept behind the entire release. According to the press release, you can fully understand the meaning of this remix album only if you’ve spent some time smoking and drinking your mind away out of your frustration in this part of country. I don’t really think that this statement is completely right, as everyone who had to deal with the depressing reality of any post-communist upbringing in small town with the slightest ambition can relate to the feelings which are presented on this album.

However, Sekta Obeti definitely cannot be considered as remix album in its classical meaning. The length of this tape exceeds the original footage four times and stretches the entire sonic output. Listening to this piece can be quite a difficult, ear piercing experience, which completely deconstructs the original tracks and covers them with noisy drones, lo-fi hiss and decay of the original themes and tunes on the release. First contribution is by one half of the dark ambient/dronemetal project BIOS O / \ / \ / \ / \ is good opener and introduction of what the listener can expect through this one hour lasting misery.

Earbleeding sounds and noisy experiments mingle with dark droney soundscapes sometimes using only minor parts of the original release. A slight exception which gives you some time to breathe before another glitchy adventure is a remix by The Wasp, producer based in Prievidza, a city not so eastern, but in general known as a really dark and miserable place to live. His remix is a minimal/deep techno piece. The other tracks are not also easy to listen to, however, sometimes you can find yourself a bit bored by them, but if this has to represent the mood and setting of the east, then I have no objections at all. The final burst of light is a nod to William Burroughs and his cut and paste technique - the track called Cítime ako biele svetlo preniká našimi stehnami is remix made of all of the remixes present on the compilation and with its 23 minutes is the final farewell to the project.

This album is really difficult to listen and consume at first, since most of the remixes are really uncompromising bastards of the originals. But that was possibly the intention, to create a painful and hardly digestible piece of work which conceptually finalizes everything. Time to take some Valium and booze.

By b.arctor