Adventurous Slovak Records of 2015
Does it ever make sense to talk about any country’s experimental and electro-acoustic musical output when music transcends geographical boundaries, especially nowadays when exchanging files over the net allows artists to collaborate regardless of proximity? The simple answer is no, but at the same time nothing is created in a vacuum. So, even if talking about the Bratislava scene, for instance, can be misleading, when grouping together artists who work in very different fields, it can nonetheless be helpful in guiding one in the discovery of what is being produced on any particular territory. Venues such as A4, home to the Next Festival, and Fuga in Bratislava, together with labels such as LOM, Exitab and Protosites and websites such as Kraa, all contribute to create a support network that gives oxygen to the local talent.
Slavo Krekovic, artistic director of Next, has recently compiled a list of 100+ adventurous albums, eps and singles released in 2015 by Slovak artists, which contains many gems, that would have otherwise fallen under my radar.
Amongst these, I wanted to pick 10 of my personal favourite releases in no particular order.
As the linear notes indicate, there’s no trace of the trademark multi-layered synth structures of Stroon’s output, no fairytale vibraphone, and no beats. Indeed Chosen Months represents a change of tempo for Dalibor Kocián, one of Slovakia’s foremost electronic ambassadors. Raw sounds and distortion give way to piercing drones allowing Stroon to venture outside his comfort zone to reveal an artist unafraid of going out on a limb.
Jonas Gruska is a master in field recordings building his own contact microphones and releasing a dedicated “Field” strand on his excellent label LOM. In 2015 alone, he released three field recordings albums. The first, Kvílenia Bratislavy out on sonospace merch is an ep of two halves, sharing a certain screechy quality courtesy of the door at the entrance of the central post office in Bratislava and the city’s tram line system. Self-released, are instead Lúky, a compilation of recordings from his search of pristine meadows around various parts of Slovakia, and Zvuky Slovnaftu (Sounds of Slovnaft), a set of field recordings that captured flare stacks during a flurry of unusual activity at the Slovnaft oil refinery, which kept Bratislava awake for several nights.
o /\/\ /\/\ is the moniker of Jozef Tušan, the graphic designer behind many of Lom’s, and Exitab’s best album covers. Domum, released on tape in an edition of 20, is a sometimes abrasive drony affair, which contains a full live improv set recorded in October 2015. Tušan has already released a new album on the 2nd of January.
Following on from Urban Blues released in 2014 Strom Noir released two albums in 2015. Zoitpon and Glaciology, subtitled as “Four songs about Snow and Ice” and described as four compositions filled with static guitar drones that resemble a snowy picture.
Sound Sleep is the electronic music project of Brano Findrik, aka Dead Janitor. This is his second tape release on Exitab. As the linear notes indicate, “The whole story starts with blues vocals eventually getting heavily distorted and multi-layered into a towering digital choir. In natural 4/4 frameworks Sound Sleep ventures towards more complex body language, rich in sound palette and dynamics, fluid, organic and raw. A thousand 3-second dreams squashed and stained in a ferric haze.”
This delicate ambient track from Prezident Lourjder’s remix album is probably the least characteristic of the lo-fi hip hop funk tinged of the Prague based outfit hailing from Bratislava, but it does reunite Casa Cada Minuto and Mišo Ormos who, once upon a time, used to perform together as Jesus Stickers.
The Rules of Ant Traffic is a remix track by Amen Tma (Angakok Thoth and Acidmilk) on the Jeff Hunter mammoth compilation by the Bratislava based Forum Absurdum label and music production unit. It brings together various artists from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Austria, and includes contributions by Bratislava’s luminaries Urbanfailure and Drakh, amongst others. Having released the intricate and complex album Insect Phonetics Research on Lom at the tail end of 2014, Amen Tma are currently working on new material.
Ink Midget aka Adam Matej (ex-Tucan, Ink Midget and Pjoni, Musica falsa et Ficta, Frutti di Mare…) follows up Re-Leave his 2012 solo debut on Exitab, with the EP Songs For Your Girlfriend out on Mäss, a new micro collective, record label, and club night. While SFYG retains to some extent the cinematic feel of his debut, this is a more beats driven cohesive affair.
Not strictly a release but a great mix by Juraj Hoppen, aka Jvris, one of the people behind the excellent Exitab and Proto Sites labels. It was recorded live at Fuga during his support slot for Loscil back in December 2015.
To close, I chose an older track based on Acidmilk’s original material composed by the late Voodooman the enfant terrible of the Slovakian underground electronic music scene, who sadly passed away in November 2015. His retrospective web release Voices from the Antidimension is out on Lom
For the full list of releases compiled by Slavo Krekovic www.kraa.sk/records-2015/