Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mika Male at Prostor Do 22Jun2013

Sometimes the music is not only music.

                                                   x                          x                           x

I went to see Mika Male play at Spunk on Saturday, June 22nd 2013.

I have listened to them already before, last time being on ALU Cash&Carry day (Academy of Fine Arts open doors day) in May and it was very nice and I enjoyed their music but still I didn't like the very idea of hearing them in the daylight, in the afternoon shade and as a side show to Art exhibition, displaying music like craft - not that it wasn't great (because it was!) but because this felt inappropriate to ME - that whole assembly carried just too much normalcy and usualness and this are not adjectives I commonly associate with work of Mika Male.

Sometimes the music is not only music.

Harrison Wintergreen, Friedrich Nietzche, Sosuke Aizen, James Sidas - they all have something in common and I feel that I also participate in that something. I feel their soul-search and their imminent conclusions as my own. On the scale of life inevitability they have reached the furthermost step, the highest point of ability and excellence - and they just kept on going toward more, the invisible, the unfathomable, in the process of losing by winning.

One step back on that perilous ladder there is Samuel Vimes and he seems to have managed not to overstep. His knurd, property that they all share, is somehow - only just - big enough to bring him to higher most step but to somehow keep him still capable of social contact. That awe inspiring, precious spot, Sam Vimes in my mind shares with Mika Male Narrator*.

Mika Male make music so beautiful it really qualifies as music only to most simple layman. It is so rich, so simple in its complexity, so full of organic sound it really is more vision than sound. Picture, rather than musical composition. Listening to studio produced pieces with sounds of instruments interwoven with raindrops sounds and fragments of stories is just complete bliss. So that is why I wanted to hear them again, at night and in closed space, as main event, center stage.

So I went to see them play in Spunk.

But they did not really play in Spunk. As I got there I saw their gear already set in Prostor Do. I inquired on what brought on the change ("But sound is so much better in Spunk!!" ) and was explained that Spunk was too constrictive space for the band. I was already ready for everything after that explanation and few minutes later it was time to see if expectations match to reality.

They didn't match. The sound was great.

It was just beautiful. Orlan's wonderful voice. Dancing violinist. Passionate bass. Support guitar coming and going off stage. Exquisite jazzy drums, temperate and with brushes. Getting up and sitting down, going around picking up other instruments. Cooking with fire.

I loved how at one moment Orlan, in the middle of the song, said: "I don't hear keyboard." and he just got up and walked back to the mixer and adjusted the tone while music paused and audience cheered him on and clapped. And later on we could really hear the difference and it was better.

I love how he laughed to himself performing one of two new songs as he (seems to have) forgotten the lyrics for a moment.

I love how the music was so captivating I could not tell how long they were playing at all. I love how they played Nisam te pustio na vrijeme in the beginning of their set so the sadness will be already forgotten by the end. I loved Već smo bili ovdje as it rang in my soul pulling my hurt chords. I love how my friend that was out on a gig with me for the first time turned back to me in the middle of the set and told me: "I'm definitely coming along for more gigs!"

And it ended, beautifully and organically, just as it started - appearing and dissolving like a mirage it is - and later we stayed there, sitting on the terrace in the cool breeze after a hot summer day.

And I even got memento of the evening:

I loved how energetic the words "u ovih 14 katova smo sami" (in these 14 floors we're alone) sounded in Večeras smo sami that they performed for an encore.

                                                 x                              x                          x

Sometimes the music is not only music. Sometimes the music is no music at all.

Just the void in my heart ringing with emptiness.

                                                 x                              x                          x

* - "Mika Make Narrator" I consider the person sharing his stories through song lyrics. This does not have to be the lyricist, but I have not got enough information to confirm nor deny that this is the case. Instead, I'd rather hypothesize that Narrator persona contains described characteristics, and that actual lyricist can still be more rounded up, complete person, that can still be to a fairly high degree different from description above.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Akustika at Katran 14Jun2013 - Closing the Spring Season

I'm on vacation and in sudden cornucopia of events and travel experiences I managed to collect another backlog, and in this conditions I usually dismiss with concert reports altogether but this time I feel I'd like to say a few words so here we go.

Akustika closed spring concert season last Friday with 4-band concert at Katran and the lineup was: Seine, Gatuzo, And The Kid and S3ngs. As I love Seine and I wanted to check out the rest I went there to see them. Another reason for me to check this out was the venue itself as I'm still in search of that "trusted spot" that marries perfectly the social and the artistic of live music listening and this was an interesting addition to my inventory.

I have to say that Katran (Shock Show Industry venue) is absolutely beautiful and this is by far the coolest and prettiest (squat?) venue I have been to in Zagreb. It is situated in an old industrial yard on Radnička cesta 27 on third and fourth floor of abandoned factory building. On third floor there is the club itself and it is decorated functionally with as little intervention in "old factory look" of the place but with fun and lovely details such as armchairs and signposts and mannequins and fluorescent lights. On fourth floor there are toilets and I think this is the coolest toilet space I ever saw. Beside very clean and lovely toilets there are sofas and armchairs and small vanity tables and nightstands in "waiting space" with flyers for other venues and happenings. I went up to survey it and use it twice and there were always people there sitting and chatting and it felt very welcoming and university-like. Although this whole venue is in a place where you'd expect dirt and grease it is very clean and smells great and the personnel are excellent - hosts and bouncers and bartenders are all very handsome and approachable and nice and helpful.

For this occasion audience was greeted and bands were announced by Katran host and Shock Show Industry Association chairman Mario Petreković:

... and first ones up were Seine.

I have listened to them two times before and as every time before this time they were also great. It's funny - I'm actually the person that loves pieces of music fiercely but not for long periods of time; there is always so many things to listen to and so many performers to love so things "fall off my radar" quickly - but that is not so with Ivan and Tena. I listen to them often at home, in my car, go to their gigs and they are always great. When I see them perform Tin Augustin ide u Blato (Vina!) I'm just completely taken by the music and rhythm and lyric visions and it feels like a wormhole through which I see into Tin Ujević's soul. And then there is Valcer za Kraj and my heart gets stolen and fixed and put back into my chest immaculate and perfect every time I hear it. Go and download and listen to their songs from bandcamp.

Next ones up were Gatuzo:

This was my first time listening to Gatuzo live but I feel I heard them so many times on Radio Student I knew every one of the songs they played by heart. I loved how they are so intensely energetic that it is hard to believe just two guys - guitar and drums - can make that much music. They performed their current single Oni govore somewhere in the middle of their set and this was so profoundly great I hope it will surface on YouTube along with official version. They are playing on InMusic on 26th and 30th on Bundek so if you get the chance go and check them out.

As the gig only started at 23:15 by the time And The Kid started to play it was almost one AM. This was not so good because And The Kid are very gentle and acoustic and the audience was already liquered up and screaming over exceedingly pumped up volume of the speakers. You can sample their music in this video:

... while I moan in disappointment.

I'm in two minds about showcasing acoustic music this late and in bars. If artists would like people to really hear their music this definitely is not the way because the world is just adjusted to people self-medicating with alcohol so to stay awake, be more sociable and get laid. It that mindset I see no space for real listening of any kind, much less getting to know someone's art. On the other hand, people's satisfaction of successfully socializing and getting laid can just spill over to direct reasons of them being someplace, listening to someone, which then could lead to people choosing to listen more of that music in their un-intoxicated, awake time.

Last ones up were S3ngs, 4-piece indie rock band, that just released official video that is bound to be their summer 2013. hit:

Congratulations to Akustika on this great year and I'm absolutely certain I'll keep an eye on new gigs and discoveries in next season - and so should you!

See you in the fall on new Akustika gigs!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Trapula - Zagreb premiere

Official movie poster by

Last night at 8 o'clock in Tuškanac movie theater in Zagreb premiere screening of new Ramljak&Škobalj short film Trapula was held. Far from red carpets and usual movie-style shenanigans this was an intimate, friends-and-family celebration, that was so utterly satisfying it is not hard to imagine many authors would wish they could have.

I haven't been to Tuškanac for a decade or two and I was wondering about the condition of the venue itself but I was pleasantly surprised by functional and comfortable interior of the place. It has everything avid moviegoer would need and it was nicely cool from deep three shade surrounding the theater. I feel that it wouldn't take much to restore this place to complete beauty this building already has and I hope community consciousness will only grow in future decades and make sure we keep investing into community and this kind of places that we would surely love to preserve for our children.

After short settling in, the authors; Ivan Ramljak and Marko Škobalj got out and greeted us and told us a few words of the feature itself. They told us of their work, of timelines they had and scarcity of funds. They wished us happy watching and us eager observers were engulfed in pleasant darkness of suspense.

The movie started.

From the first few moments it was apparent that this feature is something special. It has everything; the tempo, the sound, stunning and captivating visuals, ambiance - e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g - utilized in a purpose of engaging the watcher. This is a movie that cannot be watched as a side show to smart phone indulgence, to ego-porn of social interaction, it leaves no space for shallowness and napping. Openness of the scenes engages the watcher in so many levels; you can clearly smell bitter saltiness of the sea, feel the warmth of the blistering heat, taste the mouthful of hollowness and despair, get aroused by beauty of the unshroud-ness. It is a great feature and a great tool of accessing your own inner world, by interpreting the seen and the unspoken through a fine (or coarse) mesh of your own referential frame sieve.

It went on for minutes and I was sorely shocked seeing it finish - I wanted more, and more and more! If only a scene more... but it was over and it was wonderful.

I clapped my hands as hard as I could (we all did!) and authors and cast and crew - whoever was there last night - came out and took a bow for us and we clapped and it was wonderful.

Later on we went for a drink and we chatted, exchanged opinions and we listened to makers and the actors and the crew. There was laughter and admiration and it was exceedingly enjoyable to be there as this is such a brilliant group of people, unpretentious and sociable and smart and beautiful and humble. To say I was impressed would be to underrate greatly.

Trapula is a movie made from creativity, persistence and love and it was funded exclusively by authors, cast and crew. Go and see it wherever and whenever you get the chance!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

MIMO 8 - Luka Belani and Spremište 07Jun2013 @MSU - Spring Season Finale

Friday night there was last MIMO concert for the season. Just like every time until now it was organized perfectly for listeners on Radio Sljeme, internet streamers and for live audience at Gorgona Hall at Zagreb MSU (Museum of Contemporary Art). I did not have a chance to see any of the performers live until now so I was looking forward to be surprised and perhaps swayed into fandom and also, as this was the last MIMO event of the season tensions were high and expectations great and it felt so in the electrified air.

Jelena Balent, our MIMO hostess, was particulary beautiful and styled and I rue not having any better photos but to my overexcited mind reality actually pretty much looked more like impressionistic painting and less like accurate depiction of the world so these photos will do until there will be some more on MIMO facebook page.

After short introduction, spotlight went a little bit to the left and Luka Belani started to play.

I have heard about Luka before. I have read some reviews and gig reports and have heard friends and acquaintances from the music business talk about him and I feel none of that information gave him the credit for things I got when he was standing there few feet away, performing. This is exactly why I think people should go and experience music firsthand.

First of all, this guy is stunningly handsome - tall, athletic, masculine, beautiful. In this world he does not NEED to know how to play the guitar, looking like that - but he does know how to play and how to sing and he does it wonderfully. From the first words he spoke and the music he made and the voice that appeared when he started to sing it was just apparent, in full view, that this guy loves his craft and loves to work on it to hone it. He played some new songs and some old ones, and he told us the titles in between songs as he adjusted the sound of his instrument, and his music, allthough being played in singer-songwritery lo-fi settings (as opposed to mixed and produced album quality) had definite taste of sellable and permeating stuff. In the end he played some new songs and told us that he's experimenting a bit with new sound and new sound will definitely stir some spirits and there is still left to see how this will fare with existing fans as it is nothing like the music he made until now.

And then there was comment quarter and Ante Perković and Dubravko Jagatić spoke to Jelena and to audiences both here and on radio and streaming about music and this project and have extended their support and love to this endeavor of promoting domestic artists. Perković also commented how he loved the new stuff Luka played for us and I second that and I love that he was called to comment again as his entusiasm as a music lover is wonderful and contagious and it is great to see that even in a market so small and cutthroat like ours people bearing genuine love for their work can survive.

Band part of the evening went to Spremište.

I haven't heard of Spremište before and it is a crying shame because they are beyond awesome! I will definitely listen to them more and keep an eye on any of their shows nearby so I can go and see them again and again and again.

They opened with a song Recesija borrowed from sibling band Hren and I was so utterly and overwhelmingly shocked with absolute greatness of how they performed it I (along with most of the audience in Gorgona hall) just sat there, not being able to clap. It took me halfway through the next song before I got myself together enough to believe that music this great is really happening - right now, in front of us, live!

They are a mixture of punk, ska, funk, jazz and their "original cast" contains 4 people (Stil - guitar, vocals, Klema - guitar, vocals, Norman - bass, vocals and Perić - drums) and for this event they were joined for a few songs by Brajković on guitar (so Klema could play keyboards) and 3-part brass section.

It was so wonderfully noisy and fun and joyful and noisy and when I got home I immediately turned the Internet upside down and from his pocket Spremište SoundCloud page, YouTube page and Facebook page fell out and I opened and perused them ever since and I hope you will too because there is some freakin' awesome stuff there, including several great videos and buch of great, profesionnaly produced songs - like Ispočetka, my favorite - on their SoundCloud stream.

Farewell MIMO until fall, I hope to see much, much more of you in the future!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Riverside at Močvara 05Jun2013

People who know me - who really know ME - know how hard it is for me to be constantly aware of multitude of formalities shrouding the breathtaking beauty of substance. This is a common peeve wherever I go and whatever I do and I can think but a handful of experiences that have proved themselves different.

Now I have one more that proved to be… wonderful.

I have waited for Riverside to come to Zagreb for a long, long time. I was in such disbelief that when I saw first announcements of their arrival to Zagreb I have coldly dismissed them as fraud. Nevertheless I’ve kept my eyes open for any new information and one day there was some more on and and on Močvara FacebookPage. Multi-source information sounded much more legit so I went to town and treated myself to a ticket (and offspringess to Vincek  walnut  ice-cream).

And I waited. I ruminated on their lyrics. I listened to their music. I scoured Youtube for their videos.

I wrote a story of the past to show a bit of myself to theworld. I’ve let my happiness I’ll see them show and have made my commitment public.

Wednesday night came, bearing gifts.

As I entered Močvara few minutes after nine there were many people already there  and that made me super pleased because I feel that such great music deserves multitude of fans wherever it finds itself. Inside there was stage already set and audio mixing console stationed in the back (I understand this is new addition to Močvara setup, and I’m welcoming this investment). I met a friend and we mingled a bit and soon Močvara was nicely filled with people and  we resumed our positions in the front.

At about 21:45 roadie came onstage and plugged something in. Intro commenced. 5 minutes later the band came out and took their instruments. That beauty of complete simplicity and utter unpretentiousness cannot adequately be put into words. They just got their instruments and played. 

They opened with New Generation Slave, the title song from January 2013 album. Mariusz Duda, their frontman, lyricist and bass, cringed for a shortest second  as spotlight awkwardly hit his face for the first time in the evening and just started to sing and it was so wonderfully clear and noiseless and penetrating it felt like no real thing ever feels, it felt like complete fulfillment of a fantasy. But it just went on and on.

They played almost whole new album and some old songs, Mariusz talked between songs – introduced the band, said a few words about the tour, spoken of this year being their 10th anniversary since the band exists, told us “we’re not playing metal anymore, we’re just playing songs” and he played along with some funny stereotypical expectations a bit. It felt unforced and natural and relaxed. It felt intimate and human. It felt heartfelt.

Guys look so good on stage, Mariusz is unexpectedly gracile and Michał absolutely gorgeous, Piotrs cute and wondrously animated, very attentive and warm. 

They are all so young and I love how they have grown up – from boys into men in their music and their business sense. I love how Mariusz writes concise, down to the point lyrics that depict a world far from perfect yet livable, even lovable.  When they played We Got Used To Us it sounded so crystalline I was moved to tears while time stood still in that perfect cherry-tree-petals-flying -in-the-warm-breeze moment. Lights were fantastic for a stage so small and there were both blues and reds common folk like and whites and yellows that are good for taking pictures.

They played for nearly two hours and they got out for an encore twice and they closed with their current single Celebrity Touch and it was wonderful. They took a bow for us twice and they promised not to wait ten years to come to Croatia again (“Maybe in a year or two we can come back”).

Later my friend and I stayed and had a drink and chatted and I talked and talked and talked and I was so utterly and unbelievably happy I forgot all about work tomorrow morning and responsibilities and obligations and I was just there. In the moment. In rapture.

Next morning, under my usual hot’n’cold morning shower, for the first time in years and maybe even forever I felt at peace.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dreams do come true. Even hopeless ones.

In the light of tomorrow’s Riverside concert in Močvara I’d like to share a story with you.

I love Riverside. I love their music and I love their poetics and I love unique gentleness in their vision of the world – vision encompassing both darkest despair of a person perceiving world exactly as it is and warm light of hope that shines right out of their soul illuminating the world around them, not seeking for outside validation.

I first heard of Riverside in 2008. when I was mourning a good friend who had to go because he did not want to be only a friend. I heard him and I did understand him and we have reached our impasse after which there were no roads to walk them together. But my heart was nevertheless broken and I wrote a poem as a monument to this experience and I published it here, on my at that time secret blog under the title “Will your grace command me any service to the world's end?” which is, of course, Shakespeare quote from Much Ado About Nothing.

This is the poem I wrote:

Second Life Syndrome
Nothing helps.
Every one lost leaving a dent
That no replacement could ever fill;
No ersatz touch, or feel, or scent,
No self-delusion or strength of will.

Nothing helps.
Every one lost leaving a brand,
Leaving a skid mark on one's soul
Where something sacred used to stand
'till one is forced to let it go.

…and to camouflage it even more I attached Riverside song along with this post. It was my favorite song at the time – song named Second Life Syndrome from Riverside second album bearing the same name. Song itself is a two-part wonder with botched love for first and cure for the broken heart for second part (how unseemly appropriate!).

Nobody got all this. I hid it well and I never ever spoke of it until now.

Five years went by.

My lost friend would be proud of today-me. I climbed all the mountaintops he wanted me to conquer, I was never careless with other people’s emotions (or mine), it was through loss of him that I became a better person and yet,… hardly any life event goes by without me thinking how nice it would be if I could share it with him, … but, just like the poem said: "nothing helps" – nothing did help.

Now, five years later, I am that person leaving, not wanting to be only a friend, and for my reward I get Riverside live in Zagreb. When I heard Riverside were coming, with brilliant stories caught in the web of their exquisite music I’ve put the albums into player and have been listening them over and over and over again. This concert is to me a fulfillment of a hopeless dream to be able to hold on to a promise in a world filled with expendables (Check out EscalatorShrine on 2013 Riverside album).  

I never thought I would have the opportunity to watch and listen to Riverside in Zagreb so all bets are absolutely off.

I can hardly wait tomorrow night.

                                                 x                                 x                           x

I’ve been mulling this over and over in my head for days and it was Joss Whedon’s tweet about his Much Ado About Nothing production that completed the picture – pushing me toward finally putting this story into writing.