Trumpet player Dusko Goykovich released one of the finest jazz albums to ever come out of the Balkans in 1967. Swinging stuff.
Behind only Laibach and Bijelo Dugme (White Button), Mizar were the most powerful name in the Balkan rock music scene, and crossed over into Darkwave with ease. This is a cover of The Eurhythmics’ classic hit, “Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This,” done with a heavy dose of Byzantine goth.
Every time I go to Skopje, there is always someone who asks why on Earth I’d bother to come and stay such long periods of time in what they feel is an insignificant city in the heart of the Balkans. You can thank this song, the disc it came on, and a friendship with Gorazd Capovski and Ilija Stojanovski, for this.
I had worked at Tone Casualties records as an A&R Manager, and came across this disc while at my evening job, buying weird music for Aron’s Records (RIP). I had passed through what was then Yugoslavia a few years past, and knew a bit about Macedonian music, but the combination of goth/darkwave and an ethnic, Byzantine sound, came as a huge revelation. I never, in a million years, thought Love Will Tear Us Apart would sound perfect with bagpipes. A pleasant surprise which still strikes a chord after 20 years.
Three of the finest musicians Macedonia has to offer combine with Dutch cellist Ernst Reijsinger for an amazing concert I was privileged enough to attend.
The lineup for the evening:
Enrico Blumer deserves a load of credit for making this collaboration happen. He has been a gift to the Skopje music scene.
Though I am a big fan of Zlatko’s work (as evidence by the previous post featuring his old band, Lola V. Stain), I can’t say I was a big fan of Beni’s in the past. He seemed like a great guy, decent to the core of his bones, but his music never quite moved me, as it reminded me too much of 80s power ballad tripe that I ran away from in Los Angeles.
Hearing this piece has caused me to utterly reevaluate his music. This seems precisely what he was made to be doing, and Zlatko is bringing out the best in him Bravo to both!
One of the greatest bands in the history of Balkan alternative music, Anastasia were fronted by singer Goran Trajkoski (Gotra), who went on to sing for Macedonian legends Mizar, as well as making incredible music as a solo musician. He is also an old friend who is as decent as he is talented.
Here is a sample of what you’re hearing, which is based on a text from the Holy Bible (David’s Psalm 137:1) in historic documents connected with destruction of Jerusalem by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II in 588 BC.:
На реките Вавилонски
таму седевме и плачевме
сеќавајќи се на Цион
На врбите среде него
ги обесивме нашите харфи
Таму нашите поробувачи ни бараа песни
нашите мачители се радуваа викајќи:
Пејте ни од песните ционски
Како да пееме песни господови на земји туѓински
Ако те заборавам тебе, Ерусалиме
нека се заборави десницата моја
Нека си го голтнам јазикот
ако не се сетам на тебе
ако не го издигнам Ерусалим
над мојата најголема радост
Сети се Господи на синовите едомски
кога дента во Ерусалим викаа:
разурнете го, разурнете го до темели.
Ќерко вавилонска, опустошена
блежен нека биде тој што ќе ти го направи тебе
она што ти ни го направи нам
Блажен нека биде тој што ќе ги земе децата твои
и ќе ги удри од камен.
By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst of it
We hung our harps.
For there our captors demanded of us songs,
And our tormentors mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
How can we sing the LORD’S song
In a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
May my right hand forget her skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
If I do not remember you,
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.
Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, “Raze it, raze it
To its very foundation.”
O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one,
How blessed will be the one who repays you
With the recompense with which you have repaid us.
How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
Against the rock.