Saturday, August 30, 2008

V/A, "Made In Yugoslavia"

Up next: a tape compilation of yugoslavian "wave" bands (note the quotes) released in 1992 by the greek fanzine Βρωμιά (Vromia/Dirt) & compiled by someone called Humpty Dumpty ('in dolby,' as the tape boasts - or warns...). I've never been into fanzines all that much myself, apart from very few notable exceptions (Χωρίς Κανόνα, 1000+1 TiLT, Σκύλα more recently, maybe a few more that I forget), so I know nothing about Βρωμιά; Παρακμή the infamous claims that it was one of the most well-known fanzines at the time, though. This tape probably did not accompany one of the 'zine's issues; instead, it must have been released independently of the fanzine - do correct me if I'm wrong.

The bands in here are an interesting, if somewhat incongruous, mix. For one thing, the recordings span the entire decade 1981-1990 - a rather wide range which also reflects on the styles included. Another interesting issue (which I find affectionately cute for my own selfish reasons) is the inclusion of bands both instananeously recognizable & bufflingly obscure: Belgrade's Sarlo Akrobata & Električni Orgazam definitely belong to the former category, having participated in the scene-defining compilation "Paket Aranžman"; the same goes for Disciplina Kičme - one of the two Sarlo Akrobata offshoots - & of Slobodan Tišma's Luna from Novi Sad. I would also include in this list the croatians Let 3 & the slovenians Strelnikoff, both of which are, first, excellent bands &, second, infamous for certain provoking incidents each. The rest of the bands, on the other hand, are either noticeably pretty obscure (Roderick, Abbildungen Variete), or prolific but still somewhat marginal (Sexa), or simply not wave at all (Miladojka Youneed). Or it could be that I'm prejudiced, since I didn't know the more obscure bands (with the sole exception of Sexa) anyhow...

That said, the compilation is pretty effective in presenting an interesting slice of the wave scene in Yugoslavia in the '80s. The first side is faster & more adventurous, combining the jazz rock of Miladojka Youneed & the proto-wave of Sarlo Akrobata with the demented industrial onslaught of Strelnikoff ('demented industrial onslaught' - pfff!... that's what blogging will do to you, apparently...) & the recognizably-yugo post-punk of GRČ. (Don't expect any punk here: there are no bands whose name starts with a 'P,' after all...) I am certain that there is a well-defined label for the more homegeneous second side, but I don't think I'm aware of it; dark wave is the only thing that comes to mind, as a generic substitute for music that is just plain weird at times. It definitely had an effect on me, since it led me to the macedonians Mizar whom I was unaware of - what a great, great track they contribute here... (Meager comparisons to compatriots Anastasia could be drawn, but only in that evocative religious feeling suffusing their sound; I, at least, hear nothing akin to tradition here.) (Oops - what do you know, Anastasia were 2/3 Mizar after all!)

That's it. The rest of this post is irrelevant musings from my side which you can (& invariably will, if not should) skip by scrolling down to the donwload link; let me only thank Στέφανος of Πλήγμα 'zine who passed me the tape.

Now that we're alone: a further issue of interest (to me) relates to posting this tape here: is there really any point in posting something like this (I'll assume an a priori optimistic view: that nobody's posting random stuff just for the hell of it)? After all, one can do a blog search & download a bunch of recordings by most (if not all) of the bands in this tape - so why the tape? Well, it looks to me as if one should start from the other end of the temporal line: why this tape in the first place? This particular answer, though, is easy: who even knew of yugoslavian wave (in 1992; in Greece)? A handful of people at most - like this Humpty Dumpty person who compiled it. & since one can only look for something one suspects the existence of, this tape must have been intended as a sampler of the insanely cool outpourings (can you tell I'm a fan?) of the neighboring country & as a gentle shove towards its music. I think that, plainly, efforts of this sort have become obsolete in the western world; or, if not obsolete, then a certain reversal of polarity happened: whereas tapes like this one were putting music forward through the darkness (how could the average joe hunt down such records in the pre-ebay/gemm era?), today's compilations hope (at most) to put music forward through the maddening lightshow of chaotic over-abundance (ranging from your grandma's high school band to the brand new releases of a million bands out there). So, the original intention is irrevocably lost; check your favorite yugo-blog & download what you will (or even become an expert in a month - cross-checking is far easier than to used to be, after all: 'just google it'). This manifests itself in the "naïvité" (read: lack of uniformity) with which this tape was compiled, after all. What does remain is this: that I still won't download & listen to 100+ albums of yugo-music (what with fads changing about every 5sec, as expected in this overabundance), but I will listen to a tape someone gave me. & in it, I'll discover Mizar whom I didn't know, just like I discovered Anastasia through the radio or La Strada through an mp3 cd-r I was sent by a friend.

Another touching particular of the tape is its cover, which - according to the tape itself - was B-92's symbol. (In short: B-92 was Belgrade's independent radio station at the time of Milošević's regime; apart from broadcasting great music, it opposed the regime on multiple occasions. Not in short: read Matthew Collin's "This Is Serbia Calling.") It's a wild guess, but I think that I did chance upon B-92 in one occasion, way before I knew the name: my girlfriend & I were travelling from Salonica to Prague by bus (1996), so we went through Serbia at night. Browsing through radio stations on my walkman, I finally got one playing some great (& dark) music - I don't speak the language, so naturally I cannot prove it was actually B-92... What's even funnier is that I mentioned this to an older fellow traveller the next day, to which she claimed zero surprise: according to her, a lot of great music was coming from yugoslavia 'back in the day.' Maybe she was Humpty Dumpty...


α01. (excerpt from LP 'ghastly beyond belief!') (Miladojka Youneed)
α02. Ne trebam te (Let 3)
α03. Svidja mi se da... (Disciplina Kičme)
α04. Čovek (Sarlo Akrobata)
α05. Brain (Sexa)
α06. Noćas se beograd pali! (GRČ)
α07. Gimme a gun (Strelnikoff)
α08. Parole dostojanstveno bedu prate (Napred U Prošlost)
α09. Afrika (Električni Orgazam)
β01. Stoji (Mizar)
β02. Ogledalo lune (Luna)
β03. Letzte dance (Roderick)
β04. Ishodisce subjecta (Abbildungen Variete)
β05. His Secret Sin (Autopsia)

Πράξη Πρώτη

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pissa & Poupoula b/w Phenomenon

Alright, so here's the first post with a nontrivial musical content.

Side A of this tape contains an interview of Πίσσα & Πούπουλα (Pissa & Poupoula/Tar & Feathers) conducted by Σιχ (the name is an abbreviation of Σιχαμερός, which translates into 'disgusting'); in fact, an excerpt of this interview appeared in the sixth compilation tape released by Radio Utopia, namely, the part where the band explains the idea behind their tune "Α Γαμήσου Ρε Μπάμπη (Βάλτε Φωτιά Στα Σκυλάδικα)." What you get here is a larger part of the band's interview together with an untitled live track of theirs, an instrumental live track of Αρνητική Στάση (Arnitiki Stasi/Negative Stance) called "Λόγια Σοφίας" which hasn't appeared in their record releases, & an instrumental live track of Make Believe which must have been recorded in the period before guitarist Diamantis Kazouris joined them (this last piece of information is due to the unmatchable singer of the band Flora Ioannidou). Also certain tracks played from records which you can hear elsewhere in much better quality but which I chose to include for completeness. The live tracks have been recorded at Φ.Λ.Σ. - i.e., the squat at the Philosophy Dept. of the U. of Salonica (if I'm not mistaken, the space was squatted in 1989 & lasted until 1993 or so, with people from Ναυτία, Πανικός, & Ήταν Είναι Και Θα Είναι being part of it - please, DO correct me if I'm wrong here); probably at some show organized by the team "Άνοιξη Στο Σκουπιδότοπο (Anoixi Sto Skoupidotopo/Spring In The Refuse Dump)" which was active at the time. (Φ.Λ.Σ. was really a household name for pretty much all salonicans with an interest in the alternative scene; people elsewhere probably know the name from the tape compilation "Νύχτες Στο Στέκι Φιλοσοφικής" (released in 1993 & still available in mp3 format here).) According to the recent booklet "Η Ιστορία Των Punk, Hard Core Και Άλλων Σχημάτων Από Το 1990 Έως Το 2000 Στον Ελλαδικό Χώρο" (Αναρχική Αρχειοθήκη), Πίσσα & Πούπουλα recorded a live tape at Φ.Λ.Σ. which they distributed; if there is any connection with the recordings here, then that would mean that the recordings here are from that 1992 session.

The aforementioned Σιχ was the person behind the radio show "Τα Κουρέλια Τραγουδάν Ακόμα (Ta Kourelia Tragoudan Akoma/The Wretches Are Still Singing)," the long-term (1989-1998) punk/HC show at Radio Utopia whose name derives from the N. Nikolaidis movie. I will stick to facts & postpone commenting on the effect that the show has had on me for another post, as I'm getting a bit emotional here. I've never met Σιχ in person & probably also never talked to him on the phone, but I remember listening to his show on Wednesday evenings, him hardly ever missing a show even when it was raining cats & dogs outside (you know how that city gets at times). The onslaught of bands that paraded from the radio station's decks during those shows (as evidenced from what few shows of his I taped) is hard to stomach: So Much Hate, Exploding White Mice, Nomeansno, Amebix, Life... But How To Live It?, Extreme Noise Terror, & a host of others - people reading this probably know it, so excuse me for repeating, but I'm talking about the pre-internet era, where the best you could wish for was getting a couple of mail-order catalogues into the mail & friends going abroad bringing back some records... & then of course all the local bands that paraded from the studio either in person or through some demo of theirs being played by Σιχ - I have three of them being interviewed on tape & there must surely be tons of others... Σιχ is still active, by the way, & puts out a magazine called "Τα Κουρέλια" which "μοιράζεται χέρι με χέρι με καμία απολύτος οικονομική συνδιαλαγή και ουδεμία σχέση με μαγαζιά" to use his own words (my eternal gratitude to Billy for providing me with an issue). He also went through some rough shit having to do with the usual shaved shitheads, which goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished (eventually, that particular bad deed also didn't go unpunished...).

The end of the tape's B side is probably the precursor to the beginning of side A (...this sentence makes sense, believe me) & contains standard studio material. The rest of side A, though, belongs to a local band called Phenomenon (it could be that the name should be spelled with greek characters, seeings also as their lyrics are in greek, but it's spelled with english characters on the tape cover) which I had totally forgotten about until I found this tape again. Honestly, I don't know for sure how I came across these recordings; I think I remember, though, that they were passed on to me by a friend I was sitting with in high school (& probably around 1992-1993, then). The story, the way I remember it, is that this kid had a cousin living in Salonica, working in a garage, & apparently playing in Phenomenon; they must have recorded this demo, & I came across it through him. This could be complete fiction - even if it isn't, though, it hardly says anything about the origins of the band. What is for certain is that I don't recall seeing this recordings anyplace else in any format or hearing of the band in any other context; for all I know, this demo could have never been publicly available (or was pressed in a few copies, or... - the list goes on). That's about all; if you have any other info, I would greatly appreciate it if you could take the time to post a comment, as I absolutely love this demo (it may be fair to say that it betrays some Εκτός Ελέγχου influences & in a really charming way).

Note that the tape, & especially the Phenomenon side, has been played multiple times. Nevertheless, the sound quality is pretty good (for my ears, at least). Some more info on Radio Utopia may be found at Radio 98's forum - check this topic, in particular, & then the downloads section for the great Άνθη Του Κακού retrospective. The date of either recording is unknown. If my recollections are about right, the Phenomenon demo must have been recorded in 1992-1993. As for the interview, it certainly happened before '96 - as part of it appeared in Radio Utopia's sixth tape compilation in '96 - & no earlier than '93 - as the band's record is mentioned. Seeing as I also recorded a Λώλαμα track from their 7" in the same tape, it must have also been before I bought their 7" & thus before '95; that's about as close as I can get to pinpointing it.

This first post it dedicated to Σιχ - I hope he won't be pissed when he finds out I put this material out - & to Flora - whom I promised the live track to a full decade ago; here it is, finally... - THANKS.


A01. Αναγγελία A02/Prologue To A02 (vox) (Σιχ & Πίσσα & Πούπουλα)
A02. (untitled) (live) (Πίσσα & Πούπουλα/Tar & Feathers)
Α03. Περάσαμε όμορφα... πάμε παρακάτω (vox) (Σιχ)
Α04. Ο Παραμυθούλης (LP) (Πίσσα & Πούπουλα/Tar & Feathers)
Α05. Όχι άλλος Μπάμπης (vox) (Σιχ)
Α06. Δύσκολη Φάση/Tough Situation (LP) (Πίσσα & Πούπουλα/Tar & Feathers)
Α07. Η ιστορία του Μπάμπη & Το 'Επίλογος' δεν είναι καψουροτράγουδο (vox) (Σιχ & Πίσσα & Πούπουλα/Tar & Feathers)
Α08. Αναγγελία Α09/Prologue To A09 (vox) (Σιχ)
Α09. Λόγια Σοφίας/Words Of Wisdom (live) (Αρνητική Στάση/Negative Stance)
Α10. "Αναγγελία Α11" (vox) (Σιχ)
A11. (untitled) (live) (Make Believe)
Α12. Δύο Δευτερόλεπτα/Two Seconds (LP) (Πίσσα & Πούπουλα/Tar & Feathers)
Α13. Ευχαριστίες/Thank-you's (vox) (Σιχ)
Α14. Η Εκτέλεση/The Execution (LP) (Λώλαμα/Craziness)
Α15. Είναι το Ράδιο Ουτοπία/This Is Radio Utopia (vox) (άγνωστος/unknown)
B01. (unknown) (Phenomenon)
B01. (unknown) (Phenomenon)
B02. (unknown) (Phenomenon)
B03. (unknown) (Phenomenon)
B04. (unknown) (Phenomenon)
B05. (unknown) (Phenomenon)
B06. (unknown) (Phenomenon)
B07. (unknown) (Phenomenon)
B08. (unknown) (Phenomenon)
B09. Η Δικιά Τους Αρετή/Their Kind Of Virtue (LP) (Εκτός Ελέγχου/Out Of Control)
B10. Αναγγελία B11/Prologue To B11 (vox) (Σιχ)
B11. Το Κουτί Της Πανδώρας/Pandora's Box (LP) (Αρνητική Στάση/Negative Stance)

one mile from the cage

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ground Rules

What is it with music & online distribution? Why not books? I don't know; I know that this is yet another mp3 blog & that I need to get some things straight from the start to avoid misunderstandings.

Scope. First, a little story. About a decade ago, I packed my humble belongings in big crates & boxes, stored them away, & promptly moved out of Greece never to return for more than a month or so. Halfway between now & then, I was reminded of, looked for, found, & unearthed a bunch of tapes hanging in suspension inside their own time bubble next to posters for political demos & hand-scrawled messages from friends & lovers. Finally, a few days ago (& seeing as I made the switch from 'vehemently protective' to 'decidedly sharing' way back when), I decided to start ripping them & eventually post them online for all the other freaks to cherish. Blame tape recorder (& in particular his post about the Radio Utopia tapes), if you need to blame anyone at all.

Content. The tapes in question are demos I traded/bought/came across, live bootlegs I recorded, & a few dozen tapes I dubbed from Radio Utopia (one of the two autonomous radio stations in Salonica which shaped up an entire generation of young people). To the best of my knowledge, none of this material is currently in circulation on the web. I will add vinyl rips & other stuff as I see fit, too; some of my rips will be forwarded to more focused & high-profile blogs, though, instead of appearing here.

Feedback. You are very welcome to provide more information on anything I post - I will even translate it to english & incorporate it into the post if need arises! I have always been a lightweight in any scene I cared for - my contacts with people at the active end have been scarce &, to put it plainly, I'm all around ignorant on many things I'll need to address in this blog. You're also welcome to leave a kind word behind. Apart from that, I don't intend to either network through this blog or explain why this is so. In the resounding words of one of my favorite labels, Heart First Records, at their myspace page: ''People, I will deny your friend request if I do not know you. If you happen to be my friend and you send me generic messages like "thanks for the add" or "your label rocks" I will delete this message and also remove you from my friends. Tough shit.'' You're welcome to leave a link to your blog, if it is relevant to what I do, but do not expect me to update my list of links accordingly - I won't switch links or anything of the sort; we have Totally Fuzzy for those things, if you recall.

Language. I'll be posting in english &, if you have extra info to add to one of my posts, I hope you will do too. If you feel like using another language, keep in mind that I only have a working knowledge of greek, french, & dutch (& babelfish also helps a lot). In the end, though, extra info in any language is way better than no extra info at all, so feel free to disregard the above & use your language of preference.

Trivia. (i) Requests are OK, but useless. I will post what I deem worthy of posting, & that's about it. (ii) There's no way I'll ever rip anything that is still in wide circulation. You are entitled to your opinion (which you are not necessarily invited to post here - this is no forum spearheading direct democracy or anything of the sort); I am also entitled to mine, & this is that underground records (sic) were put out by people who took the time, put in the effort, & shouldered the financial burden of putting them out. I buy them to support the labels & the people involved, & I find solace in the thought that people disagreeing with me will sooner or later cater to your egotistical need of unlimited music for zero cost. (iii) The sites I link are done by people I respect (for my very own reasons) & (notice the conjunction) they happened to come into my radar. The latter fact is nontrivial, since I (occasionally) visit a total of a dozen blogs - & I would like to keep it that way. If I missed your blog, I am sorry, but. (iv) The blog will go on for a finite amount of time - a year or two I expect. Once the blog is gone, there will be no reuploading broken links; I hope that the material posted here will do the rounds via other people, then. (v) All tapes are ripped through the line-in jack on my Mac using Audacity & a cheap walkman bought for 4€ during a clearance sale at my local home electronics store. The recordings are mono & compressed at 320kbps (so as to retain the hiss &/or radio noise in them...) using Max. The radio tapes I mentioned have been originally recorded on standard issue (& some times outright crappy) tapes using a standard issue mini-stereo system; some of the oldest ones have been recorded using a tape recorder & a tuner of good quality , but then again on my parents' old laiká tapes which had been left in the car to melt for summers on end - these are unlistenable (& the entire world is still mourning the loss...). I follow the same procedure for vinyl rips, only the turntable, stylus, preamp, & amp I use cost a good deal more than 4€. (vi) Finally, there is no set post frequency; expect a post once every two months or so, as it takes a long time to get one ready.

Enjoy & thanks for reading.