Macedonian pop-rock scene, 2000
The facts on paper offer pink, but at the same time disturbing sound image. And, in the year that went by, we weren’t touch by the energy of the desired new generation’s youth rebellion.
As first, let’s get clear from the start. This text’s intention and ambition isn’t to make some wide analyses on the products of the domestic music production in the very peak of its self-sufficient “stardust” shower bath all over the media. Simply, the things are clear on that particular field. In this year that passed – the primate was maintained by the stars of the AVALON Production: AREA, Toshe Proeski, Karolina Gocheva, NOKAUT (KNOCKOUT)… Anyway, above-mentioned were merely the only ones that knew how to take advantage of their performing qualities and to offer musical editions that mainly respect the standards of the popular music adapted on our Balkan conditions. Without much of a philosophy and with songs (not necessarily reflected on any “worldwide known” production) that were recognized (read: accepted) by the common pop-consumers. This especially relates the example of the band AREA: this year’s album of theirs is loaded by many full-blooded hits, and their successful concert tour did a strong blow on our contemporary prejudices that the “catchy cover” (read: bad or “copycat” song, stupid video clip, “fly swallowing” on the playback-manifestations and similar stupidities) is the only way to enforce the attention from the audience. So, that’s it what concerns the lecture that will be (and then again, may be not) mentioned when the massive producing of the chart “sheets” and the “creating” of the ranking lists will be done – in order to establish “who is who in the pond” and who stands on the highest spike of the picket fence…
In the context of the all mentioned above, a special accent deserves the “subversive” acting of NOVOGRADSKA (only because of the – for our conditions – disputable collaboration with Karolina Gocheva that resulted with instant-hit “Let’s Fly!”), as well as SUPERHIKS, the punk-ska band with their hit “Silly Songs”, a song which has strong retro-contagious rhythm, only in order to fulfill its function of getting the attention of the audience on the potent material of the band. The documenting of that material can promise certain positive exodus in the coming period. Here we emphasize their ability for (only allegedly) “swimming in the waters of the show-biz” only because it means skillfully planned attempt to attract those with “the draft in their ears” – to notice what’s happening behind the barricades. And it is worth, because the prejudice illness lasts long, and the pain doesn’t exclude the spectators and the critics (feel free to read: the “fans”) of the musical life on our dump – who, with impudence, openly pretend to shape the common public (lack of) taste. A fact to be kept on mind!
On other hand, in spite the media attack upon the “able and unable” from the present scene, in the past one-year period few events and editions happened – things that bares the intent how some permanent quality on the present scene has some strength to exist & survive even at this time present. In that context, the mark of bravery lays on following editions: as first – S.A.F. and their album “Safism”, which was more than a year late, but after the joint performance of Smilen, Goce and Pikisipi with the great New Yorkers DAS EFX in the halls at the Skopje Fair Complex, it’s clear that even in this conditions, the “hip-hop” can be sufficiently adequate form of articulation of the great army of rapers hip-hoppers in the state; then, MOZAIK (MOSAIC) – who didn’t make any mistake doing the “live”-album; then FOLTIN – who developed the identical idea and presented themselves in quite different aspect from their author’s credo; and finally BLAH BLAH BLAH – with music and concept that offers many intrigues and boldness in our present musical Balkan’s stove context. Close to those, here we must mention the documentation of the live performance of SETH (“Stat” is the result of their great performance at the first edition of the Summer Jazz Festival in Kumanovo) and the live-edition of LAST EXPEDITION (“Live – A1” edition even with all of its – purely technical – imperfections, can represent the power of the band, and somehow, to complete one period of SETH’s active work at the local scene). And, of course – BRIGADE O. D. – which vinyl “split” live-editions recorded “God knows where & when” and on what occasion – are privilege of the European “alter-label” recording companies and relicts for the audience north from Slovenia. Unfortunately, many others didn’t took the risk with such kind of an edition (which, by the way, can often be very rewarding), like, for example: T. B. TRACHERI, ART CULTURE WORKERS, FLUX, MODIFIED GODS, etc. – whose live-concert presentation gathers mainly the Capitol’s self-conscious & own-thinking teenage audience.
Considering the editions, which for the pre-sign has “electro” music, leads us to the materials of KIRIL and B.O.R.G. (although published quite a time back, they were exploited to the maximum – remixes and else – in the last year). Also, here we have the compilations from the serial edited by Progressive Multimedia Group (PMG). Those, as well as the debut offer – although with impertinent quality and with production in struggle with obscure technical equipment – manage to shape and articulate the scene in high esthetical level, which further strong development is more than probable. Let’s mention only few: OGGY, ROBOTECH, Al Frosse, SPACEBOY, BRAINLESS GENIUS… Also, close to those, are the “sub-minded” experimental “split”-albums signed by SAKO and NDRJ, names which to you, probably, still doesn’t ring a bell, but with their sound that enforces attention and intensive consuming – I believe, soon, they will.
Finally, special accent must be put on the thrilling compilation named as PRESKOK (OVERLEAP), edition that was put as supplemental (a “gift”) to the readers of the 50th issue of MARGINA (MARGIN) by the Publishing House TEMPLUM, with unpublished recordings of FOLTIN, N.O.R.A. (unfortunately, her debut-album remained in the bunker this year again), GoTra (read: Goran Trajkovski, ANASTASIA), ROBOTECH, KIRIL, TRYCHO 909 and NOVOGRADSKA vs. Al Frosse.
A move to respect and follow. As a shaping of the picture of our contemporary (and if you like it, “electro”) music sound.
In this country with identity persistently pushed away and constantly stands as an issue of re-reconsidering again and again, like we can forget how the rhythm pulses in our veins – it’s great that we can say that the last summer, two editions emerged with the sound so eternal and so timeless… Behind the first one proudly stand the members of SYNTHESIS. The edition is “Swinging Macedonia” – as an SJF product. Behind the other are – the ethno-vocal Vanja Lazarova and her associates on this project: Zlatko Origjanski, Vlatko Stefanovski, KIRIL, KISMET, Risto Vrtev and Miroslav Tadic. The edition is named “Rhythmistica”, as product of Third Ear Production.
The both editions not only that solemnly raise and pronounce the contemporary Macedonian music sound with energy drawn from the very spring of the national essence transformed in an eternally pulsing absolute melody, but they also stand at the level of the most relevant and the most powerful music achievements on this grounds and wider, for a long, long period…
About the end of the last year, Dragan Dautovski promoted his musical announcement with his new quartet and with the project “Roots and Blossoms”, in form of a maxi-single. According to what we have heard and seen, the notion that his concept needs further development remains, although Dautovski has team who promises interesting musical step-out.
From the other editions, in favor of the quality of the musical offer, we should point out onto the great album of the vibraphonist Zoran Madzirov and the team of the supporting musicians: the extraordinary bassist Martin Djakonovski, and the promising Sashko Serafimov, saxophone and Dushko Odzakov, drums – on the album named as “At Home”, in production of Macedonian Radio and Television. Then, (finally!) the appearance of the music album from the Aco Stankovski’s cult film “Maklabas” (signed by the conditional band FYROM EXPERIMENT, behind which are standing many known names and faces of the Capitol’s underground scene). Also, we mustn’t forget about the enterprise of the year in our national discography made by the recently founded Lithium Records Production: re-publishing of the all three albums of ARHANGEL (ARCHANGEL).
When we speak about the last year’s concerts, we must mention the greatly “packed” and instrumentally explosive Third Ear Festival (the occasion: 10 years of the Third Ear Production founding). There we saw, in great shape, the ANASTASIA, the great guitar-master Vlatko Stefanovski with his trio and the guests Aleksandar Sarievski, Medo Tchun… Also, last year we witnessed the great second edition of the Taxirat Festival, where we could see that the revived bands SANATORIUM, LAST EXPEDITION and MOZAIK (MOSAIC) are no less good than the previously so highly pronounced guests from abroad…
From the other live performances last year: the wild bunch ALSHAR (read: Nikola Kodzabashija and the gang of 15 top-musicians from different bands from Skopje) in Kurshumli Han; then the joint performance of the guitar-player Toni Kitanovski and the vibraphonist Zoran Madzirov at the 19th edition of the Skopje Jazz Festival (a collaboration, we believe, that should be developed further); the live performances of BLAH BLAH BLAH and PECE ATANASOVSKI ORCHESTRA at the New Age and World Music Festival; the Kumanovo Jazz Festival (with accent on the promotion of the PROJECT ZLUST); then the last year’s Macedonian Pop-Rock Festival… And finally, not only because of the aura of the ancient city of Stobi as the concert spot-place, but also because of the inspiring energy of the concert: the live performance of Bodan Arsovski and his EZGIJA ORCHESTRA, held around the middle of August 2000 – as an introduction into a greater idea promoted by few enthusiasts from Veles, which further articulation is yet to come.
In whole, the outcome (we assume) is that the drive-fuel on our stages in the eve of the New Millenium was given mainly by the already affirmed and established names and bands. Well, O.K.! But there stands the reserved, but unavoidable opinion that the new times and new-founded relations “need & moan” for a new, different and braver musical outlook and profiles – for an exodus out of this, either real or virtual “underground” and for an assault with much bolder ideas! It’s time for going out with impudence in the claiming one’s own opinion; it’s time for words that will do the final battle with the decadence and the imitation of life in this “oasis” or “pandemonium” – all the same! But, the eruptive power is exclusively along You – You, who wait with wrath for your five minutes, here and now! With no compromises! ‘Cause this is your time! Otherwise, how discouraging would it be if You can be defeated by the notion that (r)evolution could be tomorrow, or the day after, or… So, until the next reading!
Translated by: Petar Volnarovski