Blesok no. 21, June-July, 2001
Sound Reviews


The Wild Gallop of the “Horses”
Balkan Horses Band

Ljupčo Jolevski


The Concert of Balkan Horses Band in Skopje, as a part of the popular all-Balkan Promotion of the project, revives the idea for more aggressive attack of the artists from this – traditionaly – musically over-wealthy part of the world, at the global music sound. Therefore, the historical meaning of the moment can be wisely raised to endless potentials; or, in contrary, to be buried in ashes because of the “hard” ears by the “tailors” from the wide-world discography business.


Balkan Horses Band

    The Balkan, if we ignore the tribe wars for domination, never was some dark “reign” for the real-faith Balkanians. Even less for the artists through the time, the artists whose identity was built on the ethnic wisdom and the beat of their own tradition. Through that process, the specifics and distinctions of the entities that lived here from the very beginnings of the civilization on this lands, gave birth to the complex rhythms and the richness of the musicality so gloriously exciting and so divinely beautiful, almost incomparable to any other on the planet. Even in this time of wiping out the space limits, when one– only by pressing a button – can have all the wisdom of the world, time and space, the Balkan, in the very center of the Babylon whore – Europe – amazingly stays one of the greatest enigmas. This is especially a case on the issue of this music in which code is written the wisdom of the ancient human cradle.
    And when we reach for the creative burst in this modern times, there must be noticed that because of the political positioning, from the divided Balkan – too long – only the primal esoteric were “selling” as a musical product, the primal “esoteria” which with no exception was positioning in the same “drawer”. The “drawer” compatible and “easy for the stomachs” of the western consumers. Especially in the last decade, when they became almost with no excitement and (conditionally) awakened their traditional colonial hunger. But to be honest, on there “digestive urges” influenced a lot the Balkans themselves who, driven by their lust for success in the large world business, started to “scratch the ears” of the western consumer with a small and almost (only seemed like) unimportant compromises. Therefore, understandable is the breach and success of the deceiving masters like Goran Bregovic, who – to be honest again – with the admiring persistence and impudence, for a decade and a half wraps in a new clothing the (his and ours) old “memories”. But, if his last all-Balkan “invention” is The Orchestra for Weddings and Funerals, which in its essence has the meaning of selling “fog” that disturbs the petty lusts and to “harvest the cream of the profit” abusing the collective shallow enchantment, somewhere in the middle between the Balkan pulp culture and the pop-sound for the average consumers – this modern times also gave birth to the high stylization of the original ethno-music springs (Teodosi Spasov – Bulgaria, “Avaton” – Greece, Vlatko Stefanovski and Miroslav Tadic, “Anastasia”, “Synthesis”, Kiril… not mentioning the great ethnic artists…), a births that promise a completely alternative and different steps ahead.

Balkan Horses Band

    In such context and along with the actual political bravery to oppose the long-lasting historical tribal madness at the Balkans, comes out that the promotion of Balkan Horses Band, is the first representative overview, especially because of the virtuosity of its active art-participants: they have all the pre-conditions to breach so much deeper into the dispersed tissues and spiritual levels of the existing global music production. Simply, this idea with its roots in last-year’s performance in Sophia, Bulgaria, after this Promotional Tour through the SR Yugoslavia, Republic of Macedonia and Greece, overcomes the local framing and puts itself as a superior and over-minded project, a project that can widely open the global doors for different (and much more appreciated) treatment of this regions (over-wealthy in spirit) musical offer – and not only because of the credits of the individual masters of music who participate in this project… What’s even more important is the fact that Balkan Horses Band (very wisely) doesn’t reach for direct quoting of tradition, but creates original music deeds were, with unrepeatable simplicity and easiness, all of the different specifics rhythms and colors embrace each other in joint lacing. Of course, the authorship is in everyone’s own roots and individuality but, when once all of it pass through the jointed “instrumentarium”, when embrace the wider ambient and honor the jazz, proves and shows that the common sensibility with amazing easiness deals with the understandable teamwork dissonance from the technical perspective. Also, the great longing for the team unity and coordination simply astonishes, especially in spite of the strong alter-egos of the great Balkanian music stars, all instrumentalists of great caliber. The instrumental prelude is in function of the common ultimate purpose, so everyone of them gets his own individual musical space for self-confirming.
    Maybe because of the charisma and the scene (in this case we speak of the concert held at the Hall of the Macedonian National Theater in Skopje, on June 19, this year), in front plan emerged somehow – the Bulgarian kaval-master Teodosi Spasov and Macedonian guitar mag Vlatko Stefanovski (they “staged” instrumental competition worth of their great caliber of strong rulers of musical “guild”. Also, the great master of naj(?ime na instrument?) from Romania – Emil Bukur and the Croatian singer with so specific improvisational style Tamara Obrovac, but no less, with their boldness and composer’s ingeniousity, there were the Greek bassist Kostas Teodoru and the pianist Sanja Ilic, even the charming bilingual presenter (who spoke some weird mix of Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian and English language…), then the guitarist Krasi Zheliazkov (by the way, the initiator and the leader of the project), and amazingly energized were also the hard-working percussion instrumentalists – the Bulgarian Stojan Jankulov and the Turk Hakan Besher. All together, even in the moments of dissoluteness (and there were: in “Balkan 2000”, “Mostovi” /”Bridges”/, “Bregot na Dunav” /The shores of Danube/… and especially the final “Anatema” /”Anathema”/), the Balkan Horses Band didn’t seem as a “mechanic” assembly of the professionals gathered to do the job on some ordinary routine Tour, but in contrary, as a real band that “rides its own personal gig” and rushes towards new magical moments of some unusual days in our lives.
    But let’s get back to the essence. Balkan Horses Band, as a project, is in a position to have its future and recognition in much wider, even global frames. And because of that, and especially because of the present (rotten) “pink” ideology pulled out by the low-quality Balkanian pulp apocalyptic policies , this bands existence and its eventual strong attack would be a healing force for all of good and high-quality music worldwide in general, and even more here in the region. Finally, nobody expects “eternity” from this burst of temporary self-perspective, both from the individual careers of the actors of this band and from the perspective of different national music scenes, but it surely be of benefit if this provocation aimed towards the global music sound – to last a little bit. From this perspective, this is of benefit for all of the Balkan music artists, so… Anyway, even if this doesn’t show anything much further, the emerged self-conscience about the fact that our distinctiveness should unite us in contrary of dividing us – must make us very happy and content. Because, it is a pretty much, isn’t it?

sound excerpts




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