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Sounds on repeat: Tales from the Ex Yugoslavian electronica scene of the 80s


Ex Yugoslavian electronica

the story of Rock in Opposition scene in Ljubljana and Other Novi Sad scene in Novi Sad

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“The man did not have the ability to choose their goals consciously, our goals are accidents of history.” Irvin D. Yalom

With Irvin D. Yalom’s quotation and with great curiosity I started to write for a music scene that I just discover its existence through the “a hogons industrial guide” blog. This non-academic, experimental scene was active in 1980-1989, in Yugoslavia. If I had to use a kind of a slogan to represent it to you, that would be “Anonymously, collectively and with no material evidences”, as the bibliography and discography are quite incomplete and hard to find.

That is how the story begins. Back in the 70s, the federal state of Yugoslavia, that was in the north of Balkan and in the heart of Eastern Europe, had not managed to develop a subversive underground movement, such as other communist countries like Czechoslovakia. For this reason, the arrival of punk music has found fertile ground and became the dominant youth Alternative culture. In this context, a non-punk music scene started to grow rapidly as a marginal phenomeno.

From the 60’s in Ljubljana, the Capital city of Slovenia, there was a grown tradition of Alternative culture with Rock music to gain day by day more popularity. At the same time, social movements began to be critical towards the communist authorities. As a result, in 1969, Radio Student, the first independent radio station in Yugoslavia, was established, giving shelter to the local underground music and voice to the Slovenia civil rights movement.

In the 1980s, an industrial music scene, which explored the extreme sound, started to develop and it was so huge and radical that we could say that it was similarly important as the local scene of Berlin. Sound artists and groups such as Mario Marzidovšek, Đorđe Dimitrijević, Saša Zorić, Študentsko Delavski Rock Teater V Opoziciji, Metropolie Trans etc. start their activity. Mario Marzidovšek was a real musical phenomeno, a superhero of the local scene, gained popularity also outside of the Yugoslavian borders, releasing his works privately.

Mario Marzidovshek’s Minimal Laboratorium (MML) ENG SUB

In 1984, Bojan Đorđević and Aleksandar Konjikušić, two active youngsters from Belgrade, started to run Nikad Robom label, taking action to the global DIY cassette movement, broadcasting through radio and organising independent music concerts. Nikad Robon label was active until 1992, managing to publish music by This Heat, Fred Frith, Tom Cora, Zeena Parkins (most of these releases were unofficially released) and local bands that were active at that period and expressed through Rock in Opposition scene in Ljubljana and Other Novi Sad scene in Novi Sad etc.

Other Novi Sad scene is a rather special case. Stojan Janković – painter and sculptor – started to organise events in his house, that afterwords it got the name Stole’s house, involving painters, poets, musicians. They act more as a collective than individually. The basic team was participated by Tibor Bada – graphic artist and poet, Zoran Pantelić – art historian and judoist, Béla Máriás – ethnomusicologist, Aleksandar Carić – writer and multi-instrumentalist, Miroslav Šilić – dentist and painter, László Rátgéber – basketball coach and musician. The basic cohesive fabric of the Other Novi Sad was friendship and the main purpose or raison d’etre – a fertile exchange of ideas. The total of creative activities in the Other Novi Sad scene of the 1980s can’t be narrowed to this space, nor strictly associated with the circle of people that were notably affiliated with it.

Watch that video after 46:00

From circa 1982-onwards, the activities of the Other Novi Sad scene begin to disperse across other private spaces throughout Novi Sad and thus gradually reduce the critical importance of Stole’s house. In 1983 these gatherings grew so much that a new space, cellar-gallery of Tibor Bada, was made as an occasional exhibition venue from 1984 onwards. It was quite difficult for me to find sound material or documents from the events or the performances or the groups that took place in Other Novisad scene, apart from a very small quote on this video. The group is called “Pre i posle tišine” and it sounds fabulous! Recommended material from Other Novisad could be the Tickmayer Formatio complex and CirKo Della Primavera, which they released material in Nikad Robon label and the album Ritual Nova by Boris Kovač. All of them were released after 1985 … Also later material released by Points East records by Chris Cutler.

Somewhere here my own research ends. If you find any interest for this scene you could find more information at the link above. In case you find more information or sounds from this scene I would be very grateful if you drop me a line at more_mars [at] yahoo dot gr

Good luck!

ps. Very soon we will have the opportunity to stock some very interesting LP compilations from these obscure music scene! Stay tuned!

Link: ahogonsindustrialguide.blogspot

Picture by ahogonsindustrialguide.blogspot

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Sounds on repeat: TELLUS, the audio cassette magazine

TELLUS Audio Cassette magazine

Going back to the early 80s when the digital revolution and the DIY movement was radically increasing, an idea of a subscription only bimonthly publication that will document mainly the New York music scene was born! TELLUS, an Audio Cassette Magazine that was active from 1983-1993, arrived through the discussions of Joseph Nechvatal, Claudia Gould and Carol Parkinson at Rum Runner bar, at Canal Street, in New York. The aim of These Cassette series was to document sonic works which had been produced and distributed by artists themselves, the mail art movement and some mail orders. Eventually, Tellus series numbered 27 Ιssues, exploring a wide range of improvised music, minimal electronics, no wave, speaking words, punk, tango, new Chinese music (listen to the piece of Hao Yuchi – A Hundred Birds Calling) and much more. The compilations managed to list musical works written for radio, experimental theater, visual works etc, giving the impression of one of the most complete audio archives, of that period.

Perhaps names like sonic youth, Michael Gira, Lydia Lunch, Glenn Branca, Merzbow may be the most notable entries on these historical editions, but what I enjoyed most was the most anti-art music. I will definitely recommend you to listen:

  • Tellus # 24, a flux movement documentation, published in 1990 with contributed artists like La Monte Young, Dick Higgins, Philip Corner, Takehisa Kosugi etc.
  • Tellus #13 (1986), including music by If Bwana, Amor fati, Coup de grace etc, and is dedicated to power electronics.
  • The material presented in the media myths collection (Tellus # 20 1988: difficult to mention only a few names. This is my very beloved one!) and
  • The video art music (Tellus # 17, 1987: Ann-Sargent Wooster and Brooks William, Arlene Schoss, Allan Powell and Connie Coleman etc.)

Active for just 10 years, TELLUS Audio Cassette magazine managed to release 27 issues, a highly recommended musical source that you have to explore!

Links to follow:

Listen: ubu

More info: here

Radio Show about Tellus: here

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Sounds on repeat: Allen Mozek’s Vitrine records

vitrine records

The last 3 years, I feel quite overdosed with all these new releases out there! What to choose? What to buy? Why at last I have to buy one of them? Most of the times I catch myself just scrolling on my pc, but at the end, I think that this situation leads me to get bored of music. For me, the most interesting way discovering new music is to stop searching it! What I really do is trust someone else’s personal musical taste! This practice works for me and I have to say that most of the times don’t regret my decision!

Because of my good luck, that is how I discovered Vitrine, a private pressing label. The best source to explore the label’s releases is through the excerpts that can be found on Vitrine’s youtube channel. Just play all the videos! What you would listen is Allen Mozek’s musical preferences. Allen is a Philadelphia-based musician and the man behind Vitrine records. The label focuses more on dada-garde, analog electronics and experimental sound.

Back in 2013, at the first steps of Vitrine, two personal works of Allen Mozek come out. The first was a cassette by Good Area ( check also their French Antarctica LP on Graham Lambkin’s Kye records!), an Allen’s collaboration with Gabi Losoncy and his own project No Intention. Both of them intrigued me, as I love to listen to all these primitivism noise patterns combined with real-to-real electronics and spoken words. But that was only the start of label’s history. In 2014 Vitrine started to expand and releasing works by Safe House, Gene Pick and a compilation, hosting names like Yeast Culture(!), Arv & Miljö, Matthew Hopkins etc. 2015 was a very active year for the label, listing a numerous of releases, all of them very unique pieces of music. If I have to list some of them I would defiantly mention Adam Bohman, Embudagonn 108 (japanise artist Nobu Kasahara’s project), blackhumour, 010001111000, C. R. Odette, Stephen Cornford (a great sound sculpture by the co-founder of Consumer Waste) and Stewart Skinner!

That’s all! Nothing more to say. Just check them out and enjoy your day with Vitrine’s sounds.