Blesok no. 28, September-October, 2002
Sound Reviews

The Sentinels

Ljupčo Jolevski

     Recently, somehow in the eve of St. Ilija (St. Elijah), at the great Macedonian National and Christian Holiday Ilinden, the first audio recording (the album) of Pece Atanasovski Orchestra was published. The album has 12 traditional songs and dances from the various areas of Macedonian ethnic territories. At first sight, nothing strange, even if we add the information that the members of this band named by our great and world-wide known artist – bagpipe instrumentalist, proudly stand as his pupils, the same ones he shared the endless love for the national and ethnic music language – just before he went up to play and sing with the angels up in Heaven. But, if only for a moment, one manages to send away his doubts and open his mind, he can recognize the warmth and the energy within, and he can’t ignore the joy of his heart. To ride on the rhythm of the ethnic existence of our people imprinted deeply within our genes: of all Macedonians all over the world. And, to re-live all moments of his self-reflecting. Again and again. And forever. Like it happened, like it happens, like it will happen… to the boys and girls of the Orchestra. Those who – like possessed – ride the wave of light, sworn to be the Sentinels of the Fire. The way that the Wizard– Pece Atanasovski – thought them to be.
     And He, a prisoner himself – of the Macedonian gene and music language, this Great Sentinel of the national spiritual treasure, knew well that the task isn’t easy at all, but he also knew that in front of him, as his pupils, he has the true “believers”… Because, in spite of the fact that they were grown up in the middle of the asphalt jungle, the determination of their open and whirling young minds directed them towards some different sound forms conditioned by the cruel reality of the contemporary and weird Balkan whirlpools. He also knew that Risto Solunčev (bagpipes and vocals), Gjorgi Donev, Vančo Damjanovski and Viktor Siljanovski (kavals), Dejan Spasović (plane violin and vocals), Smilen Dimitrov, Aleksandar Stamatov, Vladimir Martinovski i Dejan Sibinovski (tambours), Vele Solunčev (drums, daire, vocals) and the female vocal group: Svetlana Jakovlevska, Ana Janeva, Vera Miloševska, Sasha Dimitrova, Vesna Levajković and Slavica Gjurčeska, already honored their own youth energy and spited their anger messages loud & clear – not letting to be stepped over by the pulp-fashioned ways, manners and false values of the “newcomers”. He knew that, as some kind of a credit from the past times, although dubious, behind them they have the bands like Chista Okolina, S.A.F., etc… Fact that maybe speaks even more of their high devotion for the deed than it points at their music literacy. That’s why the Grand Master not only showed them to input their emotions through the instruments in the right way, but he instructed them, on their journey to the endless well of the Macedonian tune, how to preserve and keep the idea of the sanctity of its authenticity. Not because of some unnecessary urge for its conservation, or in contrary, for its exhaustion, but in order to maintain and preserve that ethnic potential strong and potent as it always was: Beyond and Out of Time.
     And they embraced it. As something of their very own. As a Sacred Pledge.
     So, for this album (for which, in the period of May 1999 until December 2001, in the studio Audiolab in Skopje, above-mentioned, together with the Toshe Pop Simonov „quested for the quadrature of the circle: in what way to approach to the ancient, time-plated sound matter with the ultramodern manner, and in the process, to gain – not only a plain music document, but the living art-deed”), the musicologist, Mr. Dushko Dimitrovski will note: the Artists that play the music on this album, without any exceptions, are highly gifted young individuals – enthusiasts-intellectuals. What’s in common for them is the love toward the specifics and the creative secrecy of the magical music tune of their own people. And yet, it isn’t some ordinary, plain love, but an emotion with the virgin purity and warmth, roused (not to say: “catapulted”) to the ecstasy, to the enlightenment, to the prophecy.
     And, above all, he adds that their „school is great“. That they’ve learned from the great and legendary ethno-music artists Vanja Lazarova, the female vocal bands Kučkovki, Ovčepolki, Bapčorki, then Nikola Cvetkovski, Mile Brzanov, Mile Kolarov, Angele Dimovski, Mefail Sakipov, Mahmut Muzafer, Slave Tasevski, Lazo Askovski… The whole MRTV Ethnic Instruments Orchestra.
     And only a little more in this text that doesn’t pretend to become a musical review. This heroic music announcement (this album), with its ultramodern sound quality, stands today as an example how we should comprehend and behave toward our tradition, our roots, and with that – toward our pure, original and unique music language. At the same time, this album stands as a dam against all what presents a vulgar and shallow scratching on the surface of the ethnic music entity and its abuse. Even more, against the metastasis of the pulp production.
     Imported or domestic, all the same.

Translated by: Petar Volnarovski

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