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Bratislava annual report 12-13

Published February, 2013
by Easterndaze


When I moved here from Brno in May 2012, I was shocked when I saw my new hood. In contrast with nice, though little abandoned, but still cozy and almost 150-year-old flat I lived in before, here I was facing the grim reality of my post-communist borough, packed with cars, Nazis and other disliked aspects of my life. Bratislava’s underground electronic scene, though, is surprisingly strong and vital. Last year brought some really good changes, new venues and people.

FUGA enters the game

In 2011, it all seemed nice and rosy when a new cultural centre called KC Dunaj opened, starting with couple of interesting gigs (Boris, Appleblim to name few) and the promising location offered hope for some of the artists and promoters to make organize alternative events there. Unfortunately, the venue’s development steered towards mass and commercial appeal, adding high rentals, it made impossible to organize events for smaller promoters who were willing to experiment with lineups not relying on already established names. This sudden turn and gradual degradation of the cultural centre into another average disco club made me personally really disappointed, as the place itself is beautiful, located on the 5th floor of an old shopping mall, with a beautiful terrace and a huge room for the gigs. However, it didn’t take long, and in the beginning of 2012, the offshoot of Batelier club called Fuga, started to organize events. Guys behind the club are a well established group of freetek/breakcore veterans from the Lazy Bastards Soundsystem.

Fuga is opened to almost every genre of electronic music ranging from free jazz improvisations to more typical yet still alternative clubbing nights, with a venue that oozoes a good old warehouse rave feeling, practically still located in the city center. Hargi, the mastermind behind Fuga doesn’t care about profit, he is one of the few promoters who are not in this game because of money, but for a pure pleasure of bringing good music to wider audience.

Showcases of the Exitab label, free jazz nights in command of the renowned experimental sax player and composer Miro Tóth, noise and techno events organized by cult Urbsounds collective, you name it. Last year’s international guests like Ceephax Acid Crew or Dam Mantle will be joined by the likes of Andy Stott this year. Fuga is the place to be in Bratislava right now.

Rebirth of A4


A4 is a local cultural venue and collective of enthusiasts, which recently celebrated 10 years of its existence. This decade was not easy at all. The old venue of A4 located in the very heart of Bratislava’s center encountered loads of issues which complicated the smooth running and development of its community. When the A4 was ousted by the Slovak government, its desperate search for a new location brought them to the same building as KC Dunaj. During this period, A4’s cultural program was hibernated and limited only to the theatre performances.

Fortunately, the last quarter of 2012 brought a new residence. The former YMCA building, within minutes of walk from the main railway station is also home to other clubs and pubs, making the place a melting cultural pot. Imagine punks, metalheads and fans of more experimental musical forms standing next to the each other having a quick smoke in front of the building.

Just in a matter of months, A4 was able to reclaim its position as the leading cultural center in Bratislava with a diverse cultural programme including theatre, cinema and also music which mainly focuses on local experimental/improvisational scene, however gigs by the the artists like Roly Porter or Prince Rama give insight into the contemporary, even overground global music scene of today.

LOM – pushing boundaries


The return of the LOM label brought fresh air to the community. First of all, Matúš Bolka, who has been around for a couple of years, has finally  managed to release a split EP with labelhead Mrkva, eponymously called Mrkva/Bolka. This fascinating glitchy odyssey was one of the biggest surprises of this year. A scientific approach and skills gained during studies at the Royal Conservatory of Hague made this release an extremely valuable contribution and defined a new generation of young experimentalists who combine technology and art into one piece. It is highly recommended to check Bolka’s live performances.


Mrkva aka Jonáš Gruska aka Binmatu is still around, making live audiovisual performances and releases entirely on analogue equipment at the electroacoustic studio of his temporary residence, Hague. And most of all, those guys just cannot be marked as ‘boring scientists’, their down to earth approach and very modest personalities make them great companions for a nice talk over a glass of wine at a local pub called Vanessa, which is constantly occupied by random Slovak artists and musicians, especially during the summer months, when you can sit there at a terrace and enjoy the view of local hipster girls passing by on their bicycles. LOM is slowly building its international recognition and hopefully someday its reach will go beyond the borders of the Slovakia.

BINMATU @ NEXT festival 2012 from Jonas Gruska on Vimeo.

Exitab – bringing it to wider audience


Exitab, at the moment the only active label offering space for releases by young Slovak artists focusing on alternative electronic music, had a very productive year, scoring some of the finest Slovak albums.

The incredibly overlooked debut album by Casi Cada Minuto, In White Rooms, has failed to score any nominations in annual awards, proving that Slovak audiences are still not fully prepared for abstract, beautifully crafted ambient compositions of Slavo Herman. Slavo is one of the local pioneers of the genre and he cannot be marked as newcomer, as he is musically active for more than a 5 years

Milk (feat ::.:) by Casi Cada Minuto

Stroon and Ink Midget are already established names with a rich musical background. Adam Matej aka Ink Midget, was maybe lost in the shadows of his colleague, Pjoni, who was always the more extroverted and spontaneous one in their Ink Midget & Pjoni project, but with his first solo release titled Re:Leave proved that his production talent and skills are more than remarkable. At a relatively young age, he has become a great sound engineer, who is now offering his mastering services to a broad variety of his labelmates but also to the others like Stratasoul, whose Luvly Isles is possibly the best release of this year in Slovakia and comes highly recommended. With his mate Pjoni studying now in London, it will be interesting to watch development in them both.

Luvly Isles by ajlavmjuzik

2012 in Bratislava was a promising year with many new possibilities having opened. A strong scene, the establishment of stable venues with satisfying technical infrastructure makes musical scene here grow much easier. Everyday when I go home and I walk through the city, I just feel a strange affinity towards it, which cannot be described in any words. Bratislava is a special place to be. And future looks more than promising.

Read more about Bratislava’s electronic scene here.

by Andrej