Often I find myself hyper-focused on a particular place. Not one I have ever been to nor will get to any time soon judging by my near constant lack of funds. However, this doesn't hold me back from taking as much of the culture of that locale I can manage from here. Croatia has been this place as of late, particularly their capital and largest city, Zagreb. Suppose it started as these usually do with for me when I began reading a novel written by a Croatian writer, Miroslav Krleža's On The Edge of Reason. Not that the book is especially Croatian in outlook so much as my mind works geographically thus leaving me reading steadily of the history of the Balkan country. Building this my momentum, I went out and bought bottles of dry white wine made of welschriesling grapes grown in Croatia. Finally, if one is reading Croatian literature and drinking Croatian wine, perhaps it is a good time to dig deeper into Croatian music as well.
I do have a tiny bit of familiarity with Croatia's musical output just from submissions to the blog, including some absolutely stellar albums from East-Ra, Pridjevi, Lizards Exist and from the great Zagreb-based indie label, Doomtown Records, the punk outfit Modern Delusions. None of these should be ignored and what I'm aiming for with this look at Zagreb is to inflate that list with even more notable Croatian musicians and bands.
To be had here:
Peak XV is a kindred soul describing who's himself as an "armchair explorer," which if that's not what I'm doing here what am I doing at all? La Première Ascension is an electronic ambient album, done in a sort of modern classical style. Nearly completely instrumental, it is a fantastic album to hear repeatedly while multitasking, allowing it to fade in and out of your senses, always being pleasantly surprised by whole beautiful is whenever you take a moment to pay attention. That said, my first listen was without distraction and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.
Americana music sung in Croatian? Sold, immediately to yours truly. Denis Katanec Okanagan LTD plays alt folk, like we often hear coming from North America and does it exceedingly well, but unlike many European artists that make their way onto this blog he singing in his native tongue. No judgment, seriously, good tunes be good tunes in any language. That said, I did find hearing the Croatian compelling, especially in how he quickly spits it out at the being of "Listopad." The main point is that this is a throughly enjoyable EP regardless what you feel, or lack in feeling, about Croatian singing or Croatia overall.
Naturally in the globalized world we now all get to inhabit there's little meaning to geographic styles of music, at least in cosmopolitan cities of which I'd include Zagreb. In the light a krautrock band with clear Eastern influence woven in putting out an album in Croatia's capital with a photo of a Alpine mountain as the album art makes sense, at least a bit of sense. Mother Europe makes a nod to all the internationalism that is inherent in being European and did not stop at its borders when it came to informing the style of the album. Pretty goddamn cool shit.
A short EP of beats music, as if the name of the outfit didn't give that away straight off. Unrelated to Croatia per se, I have been getting increasingly into beats music, so I am quite pleased to find a good beats artist that crossed sectioned with the country I'd been obsessing about. The songs are a little loopy and ethereal a nicely aloof way and have science fiction spoken word bits laid within. All in all makes for a pretty trippy and interesting few minutes of listening.
Here's something I really didn't expect to find looking into Zagreb, music that sounds like early Black Keys and delightfully a touch more gloomy than the Black Keys ever were. Yet there's more to Bebè Na Volè, for it doesn't retain bluesy tone for long, delving into stripped down folk by the fourth track, "Wait For You." At this point becoming similar to Denis Katanec Okanagan LTD but sung in English and weirder by several degrees. The songs become more acoustic yet what is maintained is the frequently nihilistic lyrics. Then it's back towards the electrified blues upon the eleventh track. Like a nice folk sandwich with bluesy bread. A motherfucking fantastic album all around.