Blesok no. 65, March-April, 2009
“Porta Macedonia” – a Fierce and Melancholic Album
On "Porta Macedonia" album by Goran Trajkovski and Alexander Hoffman – Veljanov, "Premium Records", 2008
Goran Trajkovski, the ex singer of the influential Macedonian bands “Anastasia” and “Mizar” (in the beginning of his career also of “The Fall of Byzantium”), author of the music of a big number of theatre plays and lately remembered as the author of the music-political project, the dark cabaret “Circus Europia”, and Alexander Hoffman-Veljanov, a German of Macedonian origin (on his mother's side), a long term singer of the cult dark-wave Berlin band “Deine Lakaien” (1985), joined their creative forces and created the excellent album “Porta Macedonia”, which was released at the end of the last year for the European market, under the umbrella of “Premium records”. The album had its first concert travel last month through Germany – in Darmstadt, Munich, Leipzig, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, Stuttgart…
It is brave at the time when art, especially the contemporary music, is experienced of understood as junk food, to create a work that will have a real artistic value. This is one of those value markers that come from the personal perception of the author, because the real artistic values, as the examples in history have shown, are corrected justly or unjustly, by time. “Porta Macedonia” has, and it is felt, the honest, deep passion to music as art, but also as an ideology, not only because it brings in the shadows of the past of the previous separate works of the two authors, but because it has no pretensions to attract different audience, it does not strive to satisfy different tastes. “Porta Macedonia” has a clearly defined target group of listeners, no matter how pretentious this might sound. In Skopje, that is, in Macedonia, but probably much more in Berlin, that is, in Germany. This album is therefore not progressive in the meaning of searching for a new sound or technical innovations, although it is very rich in this respect; on the other hand, it is not passé either, but it is a continuation of the story, which, as we already said, was started by Veljanov in “Deine Lakaien” and his individual issues, and Trajkovski in “Mizar” and “Circus Europia”.
“Porta Macedonia” is a romantic album. A melancholic one. If it needed to be musically determined, it is the closest to the so-called dark-wave with its sub-contexts of – the music new wave, electro gothic, dark-cabaret, ambient music, and even punk and the industrial music. Those who had the chance to listen to the inspirational “Deine Lakaien” in which Veljanov has been a singer for over two decades, one of the most well known dark wave bands in Europe with numerous releases, will hear the sound 'stumbling' through the pathos, melancholy, but also the fierceness and anarchy here, in “Porta Macedonia”, but more as an atmosphere. Melancholy, actually comes from the color of the voice of the baritone Veljanov (similar to Trajkovski's) and his nostalgic-poetic approach to the music lyrics.
The nostalgic feeling of the songs is the sorrow that comes from Veljanov's voice. Maybe this is so because of the fact that, as he said himself once, although a Macedonian, he visited Macedonia for the first time in 2003, because of the previously paralyzed situation by the Yugoslav wars. But he has been coming often since then and, as a result of his cooperation with several Macedonian musicians, especially Goran Trajkovski, the album “Porta Macedonia” was born, evaluated by the German critics as a nice merge of two quite different cultures, the German and the Macedonian one.
The album has 11 pieces (in German and English), made in different forms. One of them is the beautiful “Počesna strelba”, sung in German, under the title of “Mein Weg”. This version of “Počesna strelba”, was actually first sung by Goran Trajkovski and Risto Vrtev (whose authors, besides Trajkovski, are Vlatko Kaevski and Gorazd Čapovski), and in German also Goran Tanevski (all members of the new revelation of “Mizar”), although seems identical to the original in the beginning, gives a new and really exciting arrangement, and, because of the interesting production, spectral enjoyment as well. It is changed not only by Veljanov's voice, who, as a passionate lover of opera tries to make it bel canto in a very subtle way, but also with ornaments of the Byzantine singing, and the instrumental background and exciting rhythm.
The percussion sounds of the album are indeed excellent. “Porta Macedonia” starts with the theatrical “Der Kongress” in the black cabaret style, and “Lily” in the same manner. Besides these, one can point our the powerful and rock-style piece “Nie mehr”, the elegiac “His Vita”, the nostalgic romantic piece “We Can’t Turn Back” with strings in the background, the balladic and electro-pop music style piece “The New Order“, and the Laibach-style “Konigin aus Eis”… The album “Porta Macedonia” has excellent production and rich instrumental basis of electronic, classical and traditional instruments, with the atypical “teremin” and “Hammond” organ, which merge to each other and create a magical mix of various colors.
The people who participate in “Porta Macedonia” are: Aleksandar Velajnov, voice; Goran Trajkovski, synthesizer, traditional instruments, organ, programming, arrangement and production; Dragan Ginovski, guitar; Igor Vasilev-Novogradska, base; Slobodan Kajkut, drums; Gazmend Berisha, oriental violin; Momčilo Mitrovski, clarinet; Gjoko Alovski, trumpet; Sašo Nikolovski, trombone; Džijan Emin, horn; and “Brevis Quartet” made of: Vladimir Kostov and Elena Talevska, violins; Marko Videnović, viola; and Paskal Krapovski, cello. It was recorded and mixed in the “Promuzika” studio of Mite Dimovski.
Translated by: Elizabeta Bakovska