The rituals of the ZVŮK festival
1 week ago, 23 September 2014  ·   4 notes

ZVŮK has launched its journey across Bratislava urbanism in September 2013. It was then that Jonáš Gruska, the head of the Slovak label LOM which gathers artists from various corners of experimental music, chose the spot under the bridge Apollo in the capital for his event. This year, it moved several kilometres against the stream of the Danube, into the precious biotope of the Pečniansky wood. The sonic intervention into the space of the abandoned army bunker Šterkovšitě, forested with wildwood type of nature, apart from acoustic and aesthetic qualities, also created an unforgettable atmosphere.

Each such abandonment of closed club spaces and venues, eschewing the familiarity of the known centre of the cities gives the sound the possibility to spread in an environment, to communicate with it, in this case decompose amid the indented walls of the bunker, fall into the open holes and escape through the shooting range into the wet forest. The club space gives way to the genius loci, accentuated by the dim light of the candles, omnipresent mosquitoes, 100 percent humidity and solar electric energy – the festival keywords were: outdoor, DIY, drone, sound art, solar-power, in the end.

Music thus becomes part of the biotope, frees itself, this has been its historical wish – to become a part of a bigger whole. Everyone who wants to listen to it, has to make this short trip from the centre to the periphery - to reside in this biotope for a little while, to the border (both figuratively and literally, since the aforementioned bunker is situated on the Slovak-Austrian border). The subtitle sonic blessing festival perfectly embodies the need for this kind of nomadism, the purification from holiday tourism of Bratislava streets. To find music in remote areas, through which it is possible to reflect upon the state of the experimental scene of the centre of the capital. The LOM festival enables this alternative, and the people around Gruska are able to actualize this idea to great results.

The festival programme was inaugurated by the Bratislava-based Matumaru with his vision of rhythmic noise drawing on the ruins of his techno-oriented alter ego Makkatu. Deconstructed rhythms placed in a claustrophobic space, flowing through a mass of bodies, the only thing that is missing to ritual exaltation, is higher volume. Under the expressive name, Smrt (Death), one of the members of the local label Nomad Sky Diaries (moniker 900piesek,, oriented on various extreme noise expressions, also took to the stage.

Shorter acoustic industrial performances on steel, wooden sticks and metal instruments conjured the image of a passenger, who carries a plate of metal through the city and later, a dark forest.

The Viennese duo Burlin Bird, composed of members of Bird People and Burlin’ Mad unleashed their repetitive, tribal drone folk mixing electronics with acoustic instruments (a whistle made out of funnel, primitive string instrument and a dunkar – a ritualistic shell-like trumpet) mostly expressed the poetics of the place. Long tones of the dunkar spread across the surrounding forest. The improvisations of the trio, based in Vienna also under the name Arn-Rehformen-Weikinger, armed with a cello, acoustic and electric guitars, alternated quiet passages with noise orgies. Culminating drone sections were coupled with Rosi Rehformen’s almost inaudible squeaky voice.

The apex the bunker had been dreaming about. The evening was brought to an end by 21st century troubadour András Cséfalvay, amid candlelight and poetry. The LOM label ambassador, Slovak visual artist, fiend of eclecticism, who surprised everyone with his album Funeral the Musical and another tabletop opera last year based on Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, continues with his intimate miniatures, replacing piano for acoustic guitar and clarinet this time, resulting in introverted freak folk, unheard of in Slovakia.

PS: In the past, there were ownership legal disputes around the area of the forest. The ZVŮK festival thus acts as an example of a creative reclaiming and reviving of peripheral parts of a city, which are not frequented by local residents.

By Jakub Juhás
This article was supported by the Intenda Foundation.

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The Blank Stare II - Jonáš Gruska, БРАДА, STS
1 month ago, 29 August 2014  ·   5 notes


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.

by Samčo, brat Dážďoviek

This article was supported by the Intenda Foundation.

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From pop to psytrance: Christian music in Slovakia
1 month ago, 18 August 2014  ·   3 notes


Slovakia may not be the most religious country of EU, but it’s certainly the country, where religious structures, especially the Roman-Catholic Church have exceptional influence. Naturally, there also exists a Christian music scene in Slovakia as a sort of autonomous subculture. It’s quite big, but if you’re not a young Christian, it isn’t likely you will ever notice it. It’s also a sort of secret subculture - not because it’s closed to non-Christians, but because non-Christians are not interested in it - it’s quite hard to find anything interesting musically there. While other contemporary subcultures try to differ from what’s considered normal, the Christian music subculture worldwide, and especially the Slovak one, had been the true normcore long before this term was coined.

Why so? Before the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, Christianity itself was sort of an underground movement. In the atheist Czech Republic, musical underground was directly connected with Christian dissidents (that’s why Christian music scene in the Czech Republic is still smaller, but more diverse than in Slovakia). Underground music movements in Slovakia itself started relatively late compared to the Czech Republic - at the beginning of 80’s - and Christian music began to spread this way just about that time on its own, and without any connection to non-Christian underground music scene. One of the notable examples was priest Anton Fabián, who ran an illegal home recording studio in the village of Hýľov near Košice, Slovakia (equipped with a Korg synthetiser and a Japan-made reel tape recorder - machines rarely available in Eastern Bloc at that time), where the music by various Christian bands (“Košičania”, for instance) was recorded and then copied onto MC tapes - at that time, it was the most common way of spreading banned music in socialist Czechoslovakia.

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Hlukár / hLukáš SPLIT
3 months ago, 4 July 2014  ·   3 notes

Hovering on the fringes of Slovak experimental music, the Noize Konspiracy collective remains uncompromising in their ethos and works. The punks of the noise scene, kind of. “The whole idea for the release came about, when I staggered around the Fuga Club in Bratislava and Lukáš [from Noize Konspiracy] told me he is Hlukas and I am Hlukár, so we should do something together. We decided that each of us will get one side of the tape and will do a ‘remix’ and include our own stuff,” says Hlukár.

Hlukár comes from Rožňava, a small town in eastern Slovakia, one of these local Twin Peaks versions, a zone of nothingness that is also a wonderful source of inspiration resulting in creations laced with a certain nihilistic flair. His split sidekick, Lukáš, is from Noize Konspiracy, the aforementioned subterranean collective.

The split is veiled in noisy darkness, but also offers a respite in the form of various ironic samples - sourced from random instruction tapes and sonic ephemera. Kicking off steadily with a 38-minute monster of a track is Hlukár. Apparently, he made the whole thing using solely the Elektrosluch instrument, created by the Bratislava-based sound artist Jonáš Gruska, since all of his other gear got stolen. A characteristically noisy and rhythmical ride ensues, hypnotic and spiced up with samples about religious freaks.

Lukáš’, based in the capital Bratislava, side is more mellow and ominous, but before all of this a blissfully inapt saccharine start off with a sample about boosting your business. It also includes some distant flickers of light on tracks like “Rajda”. Trippy slabs of noise appear and reappear, tweaks and knob-twisting, mangled samples with quotes like “Don’t be the message. Be the messenger.” The medium is the message this time - in a meta way and literally - the tape, aides the lo-fi nature of the content and the intent, though you still can download it - digitally - here as well.

This article was supported by the Intenda Foundation.

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The trippy world of Triple Sun
3 months ago, 11 June 2014  ·   4 notes

Just before I started to listen to Triple Sun's latest album on the recently launched Forum Absurdum imprint, related to the Bratislava-based DIY club Fuga (one of the best industrial venues in the city), I’d heard the new Plastikman album.

For some reason, it seemed as if these two were distant relatives of the lysergic lineage. Trippy, abstract electronics, digitally polished and ruminating, wandering and getting lost in subtle echoes, like on the former’s “Macro”, a labyrinthian maze of sounds, the Minotaur hiding in a Plato’s cave.

In its sonic experimentalism, it sometimes alludes to the heydey of the 90ties IDM scene, the Autechres and whatnot, but it is far from an epigon of a bygone era. It has its ebbs and flows, it’s menacing and mellow at the same time.

Triple Sun is a new project which emerged on the ever-vibrant Bratislava electronic scene, composed of active musicians armed with modular synths and plenty of vigour to explore the offbeat side of contemporary electronics.

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