Monday, October 14, 2013

Music in Contemporary Macedonia

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares 
(Names you should know) Music in Contemporary Macedonia. By K.K.W

For understandable reasons, most people I ask about or introduce to, music from Macedonia (& the Balkans) always expect it to be filled with "traditional" ethnic sounds. And while this aspect of their music is still alive, being created, re-invented,  and appreciated - the current music scene is so much more.
Electronica, Rock, Alternative, Hip-hop, Contemporary-Classical, Jazz-Fusion, and Pop are all aspects of the scene. And yes, they do sing in English and or Macedonian (& sometimes both). 
Herzel & Genoveva @ Kanal 103 Radio station. 
When it comes to Electronica, two of the best are Herzel & Genoveva whose music reaches far beyond the boundaries of the genre. Influenced by the early Detroit Techno scene, Indie, Shoegaze, Experimental electronica, Soul, Ambient,  & "Post, Post" genres. There music is highly artistic, and to me, the perfect sound(s) for traveling though the city [especially at night]. "Maps & Thoughts",  "The Action Of Staying",  & "We Are Alike", each one a stunning creative endeavor that seeps into you, activates aspects of your musical appreciation that leaves you....happy. Just listen to "Brown paper bag" while on the train, going across the Manhattan bridge [or any other] @ Dusk; wicked good. "The safe place feat. Genoveva"? So fucking good its pulse-pounding (great for a dance party). "Distant Shapes", "Chroma Feel", "Memories on tape" ? Brilliant, one & all. 
Image courtesy of the artists.
Genoveva's latest work "Bluhm-In the vale of tears" ("...the exquisite outcome of six months of collaboration between intelligent musical innovator Tim Diagram and enigmatic Macedonian songstress Genoveva...." - Fluid Audio) is deeply moving in its complexities, and elegant composition. "Willow" is haunting, while "Eventide" is a soft wave of digital magic that creates a sweet trance. Her vocals melding with the sound in perfect combination, much like the track "Breathe with no air" (with Petar Petkovski). 
Bluhm - In the vale of tears. Image courtesy of Fluid Audio
& Genoveva.

Genoveva. Artwork by her & herzel.
Image courtesy of the artists.
As far as Rock, Sasko Kostov is a name you should know; his music being intense, meaningful, with soulful lyric's that resonate. "Vertigo" is a wave of synth-infused rock with an addictive flow & vibe. "I'm losing my mind" [the video directed by Jane Altiparmakov] is hypnotic in its intensity and lyrical thrust.  His last release, "Waiting for the stars" recorded with The Waiting Waits is amazing in its complexities and its sound. "Cigarettes", "Nothing to say", arguably two of the best tracks - potent, meaningful & yet extremely down-to-earth in there themes. 
Sasko Kostov. Image courtesy of the artist.
OLa Dioss. Photo by,
Ana Maria Mateja Radosavljevic.
In Hip-Hop Ola Dioss is certainly one of their best. The first time I heard him was on the song "Its Over" (Just an idea) with the group Bei The Fish. Dioss' lyrics and his flow was damn good, a sort of relaxed-groove, philosophical feel to it. The addition of him on the track made it perfect. His album "After this fuck you!" is a surging well-balanced release, showing his lyrical abilities and something of his virtuosity. "Chilling in Paris" is hands-down my favorite track, and maybe the best on the album. One of his latest tracks, "Say Neon Genesis" feat. Maya [Produced by Antoan Kurt], is one of his best yet; a slow grove-tempo with dark tones, hypnotizing synth-heavy vocals and beats. There's something in the sound that reminds me of the remix of "Back To Black" on the Great Gatsby soundtrack. 

Antoan Kurt, photo courtesy of the artist.

Maya, photo courtesy of the artist. 
Bei The Fish - latest release.
Image courtesy of the artists.
What can I say about Bei The Fish that I haven't already? Without a doubt one of the top bands in their country & South Eastern Europe. Under the influence of the Beatle's, David Bowie, The Romantic Koop, and Chromeo, the trio have earned the status, most innovative band from the Balkans. Their current release "At the end of the sand" is an intricately well-composed album of atmospheric and textured sounds. "Back to the roots" is a soulful track that's like a personal affirmation, resounding with notions we've all known. "Blind", "Technology" & "Instant Generation" are like hard-wired social commentary delivered via invigorating sound. "Control" is by far my favorite song, and I think the best one on the album. Their previous release, "Just an idea", is equally amazing, heartfelt, with imaginative sampling and my favorite album of theirs.
Just an idea? Image courtesy of the artists.  
MPQ [Music Progressive Quartet].
Image from their release "Stream". 
Classical Contemporary? Music Progressive Quartet, who else? Straight out of Skopje, four young conservatory trained, world class professional musicians, come together to create an outstanding blend of music infused with traditional Macedonian sound. Their album "Stream" will drift you out of yourself, along the Vardar as the sun set's and into the Old Bazaar. "Mesecino Careva Devojko" exudes a haunting, passionate energy that grips you, "Koljo" brings you along with somber almost dark tones that elegantly flows, into a flowering burst of rapid notes.
Kanal 103 Radio station.
Image courtesy of the station.  
When it comes to the contemporary music scene in Macedonia, the substance is because of the obvious creativity of the artist/musicians, but this is due to the frustration of what was and still is the general music scene. Together the two parts combine to create a powerful counter-musical scene, that just might prove to be the foundation, of a new cultural era. Kanal 103 - the only alternative (non-commercial) radio station in Macedonia - has been apart of this change, promoting avant-garde music since 1991. In addition to this you have the creation of quite a few small, note-worthy labels; Filter, Greenfields, E Go East and PMG.
Filter label. Image courtesy of the label
E Go East. Image courtesy of the label.
PMG, image courtesy of the label. 
If you would like to know more, or take a listen, go to:,,,,, ,,,,, or, "Art is the reason, art is the way"  

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