Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Two Minutes of Hate

I haven't updated this for ages for a few reasons, mostly deadlines related as I've had to concentrate on finishing the first chapter of my thesis and preparing for my PhD upgrade panel, which was last week. Luckily it's all gone well so I can get on with a few other things, one of which is organising the interviews that I conducted whilst I was in Ljubljana earlier this year. These interviews should hopefully be appearing in some form in a future issue of Maximum RocknRoll, as part of the second installment of their ex-Yugo specials. The first one was published in the November issue and from what I've seen so far, it is unsurprisingly great.



Anyway, moving on to the reason for this post. In my interview with Gigi from UBR, he mentions a song by the band 'Dva Minuta Mržnje (Two Minutes of Hate) from Novi Sad, now part of Serbia. The song in question, 'Crni Mercedes' is about black Mercedes cars, which were at the time considered a status symbol for Yugoslav officials. Gigi said that more than anything, the level of hypocrisy and political opportunism associated with these figures was a popular topic amongst Yugoslav punk bands and songs like this help to explain where a lot of the political anger expressed through hardcore punk was coming from, and at who it was directed.


The song comes from the bands EP/demo 'Došao Je Kraj', which features 4 songs, recorded in 1984 at the Top Ten studio in Ljubljana, by Borut Činč, who was a member of Buldozer, a great prog/rock/pysch group formed in the mid 70s. 100 copies of the recording were pressed to a 7" in 1995 by 'No Time To Be Wasted Records' and it goes for silly money if discogs is anything to go by.  From what I can see they also ended up featuring on a load of other compilations in the 80s, although the songs on most of these seem to just be from this recording. However, the Izgubljena Alternativa cassette from 1984, which also featured songs from UBR, QUOD MASSACRE, SOLUNSKI FRONT and DISTRESS, has three other songs. I don't know for sure when or where they were recorded, but they're in a similar vein to the 7" and I've included them to download at the bottom of this post as well. Here's the artwork from that tape...




If you can understand what is written in their section please let me know. My Slovene probably isn't good enough to attempt to understand, but I think it says that the recordings on the compilation are from their second demo?

The band resurfaced in 2008 and have released a couple of records since, of fairly typical, well produced plodding oi/rock with singalongs and solos and stuff... which is alright if you like that sort of thing but altogether less remarkable to me. I can sort of imagine those songs being used as a soundtrack for a video compilation of some ultras.

The 7" and their 80's tracks are all bangers though, really catchy oi influenced punk stompers with gruff vocals. This gruffness is only exaggerated by the sound of the language, which contrasts with the melodic elements of the songs really well. I think theres a load of chorus or something similar on the guitar, either way it sounds great. I probably don't know enough about the intricacies of Oi bands to really come up with a good comparison, but it reminds me a bit of NABAT from Italy or THE 4-SKINS at their most melodic. The production is really clean, which considering it is supposed to be a demo is pretty noticeable, especially when you compare it to other Yugoslav punk/hardcore recordings from the same time.

I love the artwork on this, especially the back of the 7" which features the demand/slogan 'Oi Power! Unite & Fight!' and what I assume is a picture of the singer, who is wearing both braces and a bullet belt. I know what people will say about anyone wearing both a belt and braces at the same time, but I think this is a genuine case where the sum is greater than the (already great) individual parts.



I also found this picture of them from the mid 80s. They're now my favourite band in the world. Not sure if anyone has ever looked cooler than that bass player does there.


Their current look isn't quite so good...


I think they're into Clockwork Orange. Makes a change eh.


Download- 

Došao Je Kraj- Download
Izgubljena Alternativa Compilation Tracks- Download

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Amebix - Live in Ljubljana



I've recently been getting in touch with some UK/US bands that made it out to Ljubljana/Yugoslavia on tour in the 1980's. One of the bands I've emailed is Amebix, as they played in Ljubljana in 1986, with the recording of the gig released on tape by FV Music. The (short) video below is of the band performing at this gig, which was part of the 'Novi Rock' festival, which ran between 1981 and 2000. Igor Vidmar was responsible for booking the festival and it featured local punk and hardcore bands, as well as international bands like Amebix, Swans, DOA, Christian Death, Killing Joke, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sisters of Mercy, Youth Brigade, UK Subs, Discharge and loads more...


I've included a link to download the full tape below. It's a really decent recording and as far as I know the only official live Amebix release. The recording captures the band in between Arise! and Monolith, although all but one of the songs played come from the former, and 'Fallen from Grace' from Monolith is listed on the tape as 'Fallen from Grave'. The 'hardcore contingent' get a shout out at 13 minutes too. Interestingly, Amebix's original final tour (before they reformed in 2008) actually ended in Yugoslavia in 1987, in Sarajevo.

Download

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Vidmar Je Pizda- Punk Graffiti

Photo by Jože Suhadolnik, from 'Balkan Pank', published 2014 by Akina Books

Over the last few weeks I've been reading and making notes a lot, with the aim of getting the first chapter of my PhD drafted by the start of September. One of the books I've been looking through is Punk Pod Slovenci (Punk Under the Slovenes), an anthology of articles, lyrics, debates and reflections on punk in Slovenia, published in 1985- perhaps the height of the 1980's Ljubljana hardcore scene. Whilst the book's main focus is on the punk scene rather than hardcore and the vast majority is in Slovene- my language skills aren't quite there yet in terms of being able to understand and translate much- there is a chapter dedicated to reproducing the text from punk graffiti found around Ljubljana, something a bit easier to understand.

Graffiti, according to Petja Grafenauer Krnc, first appeared in Ljubljana at the end of the 1970's, and as the picture below suggests, consisted primarily of slogans, names of punk bands and symbols. Actions were taken against graffiti artists shortly after it's appearance, and the authorities would also attempt to remove it from walls, which led to many artists moving quite literally underground, with the walls of Disco FV serving as a replacement for the walls of the city. Jože Suhadolnik's fantastic 'Balkan Punk' captures the recognisable aesthetic this provided, dedicating several pages to photographs of the graffiti itself, whilst many of his portraits of punks feature a backdrop of graffitied walls. I'm hoping to speak to Jože in more detail before the end of the month about his photography and memories of the Ljubljana punk scene as part of my studies, but will also be writing about his work in greater detail for this blog.

A lot of the graffiti reproduced for Punk pod Slovenci is self explanatory, especially the listing of band names, including Slovene hardcore/punk/alternative bands such as UBR, Stres DA, Otroci Socializma, O'Pizda, Čao Pičke, O!Kult, Laibach, Pankrti, Lublanski Psi... and international bands, Indigesti, Dead Kennedys, Crass, Subhumans, Cockney Rejects... but there are a few notable phrases that stood out to me and my rudimentary understanding of Slovene. 'FV KRETENI' AND 'FV IDIOTI' appears to be criticism of FV Music- which in many ways was the home and organising point for much of the alternative scene in Ljubljana, including elements of the Hardcore Collective. Hardcore shows were often held at Šiška (a venue operating as the home of FV between 1983-84) and later at K4 (FV's home between 1984-85), whilst FV Založba, the publishing arm of the organisation, released a number of hardcore records. Like everything else though, FV was not beyond criticism from, and conflict with, hardcore punks in Ljubljana.


Punk Graffiti, scanned from Punk Pod Slovenci 


The book also shows the presence of some universal classics such as 'All Cops Are Bastards', 'Anarchy' or 'Anarhija', 'Fuck Teachers' 'Fasistična Država' (Fascist State), as well as references to Tito, and the more specific 'Policaj Ljubim te v rit' which I think translates to 'I love police in the arse/ass'. The phrase 'Ne grem v vojsko' translates as 'I'm not going into the army' and seems to refer to military service which had extra resonance in Yugoslavia at the time, beyond the general pacifism you could find across worldwide hardcore. To use a phrase from an interview I conducted with Gigi from UBR, the army was 'the graveyard' of hardcore punk in Slovenia, as many bands were forced to split up as a result of a member being called up to the JNA.

There are plenty of references to punk still being alive and healthy and unsurprisingly the Sex Pistols seem to have been a popular subject, with references to them directly, 'Destroy', 'No Future' and various tributes to Sid Vicious, including 'Mi Smo Sidovi' which roughly translates as 'We Are Sid'. There are also references to 'Sex Pistols Avenue' and 'Johnny Rotten Square', the latter of which was a congregation point for punks in Ljubljana.

I'm not quite sure what '1968 is over, 1984 is over, future is between your legs' really means but it's interesting enough and seems to be and update of a poster produced by Ljubljana based artist Dušan Mandić (the poster apparently said 1983 instead, which was the year it produced). A lot of the other stuff at the moment to me just seems to be jibberish or swearing and I'm not sure whether that's down to my understanding of the language being insufficient, or the distinct possibility that it is in fact just jibberish and swearing.

Perhaps my favourite piece of graffiti reproduced is 'Vidmar Je Pizda'. It references Igor Vidmar, journalist, manager of Pankrti, and DJ on Radio Študent, the independent student radio based in Ljubljana. Vidmar was perhaps best known for compiling the Novi Punk Val record, which represented the first wave of Yugoslav punk bands, establishing the Novi Rock (New Rock) festival in Ljubljana, which featured a number of well known international bands (including Discharge, Rollins Band, DOA, Amebix, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Ramones, The Sisters of Mercy, Nick Cave and lots more) alongside bands from Yugoslavia, and also for being arrested in 1983 for wearing a 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off' badge- at perhaps the height of Yugoslav Communist repression of punk. The latter half of the sentence is uncomplimentary in perhaps the most notable way (it calls him a cunt), and seems to have been a relatively common opinion amongst some of the hardcore scene at the time, for numerous reasons. Generally the anger and ire he generated referred to his aforementioned prominent position within the dominant, more commercialised alternative culture and as a figurehead and 'spokesperson' for the original punk movement, all of which the hardcore scene actively rejected and frequently criticised, stressing instead the importance of the 'collective'.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Organiziran Kaos


One of my most recent buys actually came in the post a few days before I travelled to Slovenia. Between then and now my ability to buy records has been limited by travel costs, and some other boring stuff, but things are settling down now so I'm looking to pick up a lot more in the coming months. As such I'll hold off talking about certain records that I only have represses of, in the hope that I'll be able to talk about the real things sooner rather than later. 

This record is a bit of a weird one. Whilst, as the sleeve (scan above) would suggest, it's dominated by U.B.R. recordings, the compilation actually includes songs from III. Kategorija and Odpadki Civilizacije too, the latter of which I've not mentioned here before. Both bands are probably best known for their contributions to the Hardcore Ljubljana LP, but no tracks from that record are featured at all. Instead, you get the majority of U.B.R.'s other recordings, the late metal demo of III. Kategorija that I have previously mentioned and uploaded, and Odpadki Civilizacije tracks taken from the Kaj Je Alternativa (What is the Alternative?) compilation from 1983, which has also seen a recent reissue. This 12” was released in 2003, by Falšanja Kol'ko'š Records, which was based in Zagreb, Croatia. The label seemed to mainly put out Patareni records (Croatian grind, mainly active in the late 1980s/1990s), including a split with Buka, which again re-appropriates the artwork used for this compilation, originally taken from the U.B.R. Corpus Delicti 7”. The cover of this makes no reference to it's given title, 'Organiziran Kaos' (Organised Kaos), whilst the spine does, but neither mention the other bands featured. Initially I actually thought this was just a Corpus Delicti reissue on 12” and it wasn't until looking at the full tracklisting that I learned otherwise. 

Whilst there seems to be little organisation to the chaos of the compilation- or reason why a U.B.R. compilation has other recordings tacked onto it, the record actually represents a decent roundup of some of the most important hardcore from Slovenia, and the sound quality of the vinyl is pretty decent, even if the actual recordings inevitably vary as far as this goes. Looking online I've seen this sell semi-regularly for all kinds of prices, ranging from a few quid, to almost £30. I got mine for about a tenner, and it's in pretty decent condition. The record doesn't come with an inlay (or at least mine didn't), instead the rear cover features all the important details, tracklisting and some artwork taken from other U.B.R. records. That's about all there is to mention, the whole thing is relatively basic and represents a bit of a missed opportunity to really do U.B.R. justice with a proper reissue, but I'm not hugely surprised, as it seems it's only been the last few years that this has happened, thanks to Rest In Punk and Ne! Records. It was however pressed on clear red vinyl, so that's something I suppose. 



What you do get here as far as U.B.R. goes however is largely killer, by virtue of them being a great band. The Corpus Delicti 7” is rightly considered by people who have heard it, as one of the seminal recordings from Slovenia/Yugoslavia/Europe and is a certified banger, and the inclusion of outtakes from that session and a demo recorded a year later, in 1985, are nice bonuses. The B-Side features the U.B.R. contributions to the Kaj Je Alternativa compilation as well as Odpadki Civilizacije's tracks, which means it's only missing the Stres D.A. recordings from the original tape, which is probably the second most important/well known compilation from the 1980's Slovene scene. Both U.B.R. and Odpadki Civilizacije would go onto produce better material elsewhere and whilst the Odpadki songs here are decent enough, they don't live up to their Hardcore Ljubljana contributions, which are probably the highlight of that record.

As mentioned earlier, Rest in Punk have given U.B.R. the reissue treatment in the past year or so and have done a better job, with extra details, photos and a few extra songs (I think), so I'll be uploading that in a separate post, as well as dedicating whole articles to the Hardcore Ljubljana compilation and Corpus Delicti. I have a copy of Hardcore Ljubljana but Corpus Delicti falls into the aforementioned category of records I hope to own original copies of at some point soon. One of those posts will also contain a more extensive overview of the band, including some information I gained earlier this year when I spoke to Gigi.


TRACKLISTING


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Peter Lovśin- Tivoli

The evening before I flew back to the UK from Slovenia, the Union Brewery from Ljubljana was celebrating it's 150th year in business with a free concert/festival at Tivoli, the main park in Ljubljana. The lineup featured a weird mix of popular Slovenian bands, such as Atomic Harmonic (i'll leave you to look that up), but most interesting for me, Peter Lovśin, who best known as the front man for Pankriti. It was a pretty absurd, but enjoyable way to end my time in Ljubljana, watching the apparent 'father of Slovene punk' singing 'Happy Birthday' or 'Vse na boljše' to a brewery, with his band accompanied by a red dragon (which looked more like a devil) pretending to play guitar. Here are a few pictures I took during the evening.









Sunday, 29 June 2014

Igor Vidmar- Maximum RocknRoll #374



I had the chance to get a copy of the latest MRR this weekend, which features an interview with Igor Vidmar about the Yugoslav/Slovene punk scene, up until 1987. Unsurprisingly the focus is primarily around Radio Student, Pankrti and follow up punk groups, with no mention of the hardcore scene, but it's given me a few things to talk about and consider, so I'll be following this post up with some more extensive thoughts soon. I'm not sure if it is coincidental that two recent issues of MRR have had features on Slovenian punk, or whether they'll be more in the future, but either way it's good to have some contemporary material to work from that isn't just my own research.

In other news, I'm back in the UK, I have been able to move into my new house and as it's finally resembling somewhere I can do work and listen to records, I'll be aiming to update this blog a lot more frequently from now on. First up will probably be a few more uploads of records, but I'll also be adding some extracts from the long interviews I did with people from UBR, Tozibabe, III.Kategorija and Hardcore Collective whilst I was in Ljubljana. As far as my PhD is going, I'm aiming to have a chapter drafted by the beginning of September, so I might also use this blog to flesh out some of the thoughts I've been having concerning that.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

I'll be heading back to the UK in just over a week. I'm still hoping to do a few more interviews before I leave but will have to wait and see. My current plan is to return to Ljubljana in the Autumn for a few weeks, and use that time to meet up with as many people as possible. On returning to the UK I'll be putting together the transcripts of the interviews I have done, and I'll put some interesting parts up here and will be updating the blog more regularly, especially with some more posts about specific records. For now, here's a picture of Gigi from U.B.R. that I took a few weeks ago when I interviewed him.






Tuesday, 22 April 2014

U.B.R.

I should hopefully be speaking to Gigi from U.B.R. this week. In order to remind me of some of the stuff I should ask him about I've been looking through what U.B.R. documents I have on my hard drive. The picture below is taken from Maximum RocknRoll in 1984.




Monday, 3 March 2014

Moje mesto je Ljubljane


I'm currently living in Ljubljana until the end of May. I'm studying Slovenian as part of my PhD course, and will also be hoping to meet and interview people over the next few months. Updates might be sporadic as I don't have any of my records with me to write about, but hopefully my time over here will provide me with a lot more to write about overall, especially when I get back to the UK.

Se Vidimo.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Third Category

Stres D.A./ Depresija/ III. Kategorija Compilation 12"




In the last few months or so Rest In Punk records have been putting out some 12”s featuring Slovenian hardcore bands. I've not yet got in contact with them and they don't have much of an internet presence but it seems Kuri from all three bands on this compilation is involved with the label, which is based in Spain. Apparently the original plan for this record was just that it would be a compilation of all the III. Kategorija recordings, made by two different lineups, but due to 'disagreements', the later, longer and more metal recordings don't feature here. They are replaced by Stres D.A. And Depresija, as all three bands featured guitarist/bassist Bucko and Kuri. In some ways this is good, because it means the record features previously unreleased songs by Depresija and gives a sort of chronological account, but on the other hand it makes hearing the later III. Kategorija stuff more difficult than I'd like.

III. Kategorija


The only later songs that I've heard so far feature either on the Hardcore Ljubljana compilation- which has one 'metal' song as well as 5 songs from the first demo- and two tracks that are on a compilation from about ten years ago released by a Croatian label, which I've also included for download here. I'm waiting for a physical copy of that record in the post and will be writing about it/uploading all the songs from all the bands on it separately as well. I'm not sure if the metal songs were ever actually released at the time and both records still (I think) leave some other songs unaccounted for. If anyone reading this knows more about this stuff, has the songs or knows a way of hearing them, let me know.

'Manijak', the 'metal' song on Hardcore Ljubljana, also sounds, both in terms of production but also style, like it's from a completely different session to the other later songs, as kind of a bridging point between the hardcore stuff and the all out Motorhead metal. It's the better for it and might be my favourite song of all, the vocals especially sound totally savage. If their earlier stuff is like Discharge- 'Why?', 'Manijak' is 'State Violence, State Control', i.e. where the more prominent metal influences actually still seem like a great idea rather than the worst thing ever.

Stres D.A.


Perhaps the coolest thing about listening to this record is it gives you an idea of some of the ways in which hardcore in Slovenia developed. The first band, Stres D.A. (or Stres Držvnega Aparata, which i think translates to Stress State Apparatus) were formed at the end of 1982 and pretty much just played hardcore as fast as possible, with little to no variation on this formula. One of the few times they break with this is on second to last song 'Propadanje' which is probably my highlight. The primitive drums, basically just perform the function of dragging everything else along with them and the bass tone is totally awful. It's great. The recordings were all featured on the Kaj je Alternativa tape alongside songs by U.B.R. and Odpadki Civilizacije which was released in 1983. The songs were recorded in an 'improvised' studio in the basement of disco FV, the first alternative/punk club in Slovenia, and it kind of shows, but anything else wouldn't really feel right. Stres D.A. played three gigs in Ljubljana between August and November 1983, with the first one at the Faculty of Philosophy in Ljubljana. They played with UBR, Odpadki Civilizacije, KPJ, O'Pizda and Raf Punk from Italy (although I can't find anything online about Raf Punk so have no idea who they are). As with some other ex-Yugo bands, they had links with Italian punks, and they managed to play in Bologna. This link is something I'll definitely be looking into more as I hopefully meet some of the people involved. The band eventually split in early 1984, when their drummer Plešnar left to move to England.


Stres D.A.

Kuri and Bucko then formed Depresija (Depression) with a new drummer Rile, who later became better known as the guitarist for Quod Massacre and a new singer, Habič who also went onto more popular things when he left the band, as he joined Niet and recorded the bands first LP Srečna Mladina in 1984.



Quod Massacre in the early 90s. 

Niet- Depresija (1984)


The Depresija songs sound even more rudimentary than Stres D.A. and were recorded in the same place, directly to a tape recorder. The pace has slowed slightly but the overall style is pretty similar, with simple, frantic riffs contributing to the overall unhinged recording. One song has a vocal pattern that sounds a little bit like 'If the Kids are United' which is about as slow as it all gets. Both Depresija and Stres D.A. remind me slightly of some of the UK bands from the mid to late 1980s, e.g. Heresy, Ripcord etc. where the aim was apparently just to play as fast as humanly possible, although with all three bands the influence of Discharge is also pretty much undeniable. I don't think Depresija ever actually played any gigs and the whole thing seems fairly short lived given that they had split up before the end of 1984, which has probably contributed to the fact that there are even less photos of the band available online than other bands from Slovenia.




III.Kategorija are by far the best known band of the three, largely thanks to the songs featured on the Hardcore Ljubljana compilation. The name translates as 'Third Category', which refers to the lowest quality of meat, a metaphor for 'the lowest scum of people' according to Kuri, with their original name, 'Meso Tretje Kategorije', even more explicit in this reference. They were formed in late 1984, this time with Ukmar on drums and Dare on vocals, and played a couple of gigs in Ljubljana, one with Pandemonium. The lineup and sound change came later in 1985, with the first demo recorded at the Borut Ćinć studio in Ljubljana and consisting of 9 songs, which are all included here. These are the best set of songs on the record, as not only do they benefit from the quality of the recording, they're some of the best structured efforts. There's obviously a noticeable continuity between each of the bands, but these songs in a way feel like the culmination of Bucko and Kuri's efforts and at the very least justify the reputation that the band has, although in reality, like a lot of the other ex-Yugoslav bands, they're stupidly underrated, as hardly anyone has actually even heard of them. Watch this video and try telling me they're not better than the third tier crap from elsewhere that people actually pretend to like.


video


Seriously, how good is it?! There's just so much to enjoy, like how you basically can't see what's going on half the time, the clothes, the hair (except for Kuri's effort which manages to give a sinister foreshadowing of nu-metal), the people moshing like wankers,  the displays of affection, that neckerchief and how good Dare looks in general, the kid having such a great time at the front. I love it.

The LP comes with some information which helped in writing this entry and most of the pictures were just scanned from the record. It also has an inlay with lyrics to the songs, but they're all in Slovene. I'm actually going to be moving to Ljubljana for a few months at the end of February to try to learn the language, so hopefully I'll be able to talk in more detail about some of the lyrics soon, and hopefully I'll have some more stuff to say about these bands in general.

Download

Stres D.A./ Depresija/ III. Kategorija Compilation- Download
III. Kategorija Demo 2- Download