Oh boy there is certainly a bunch of stuff out there on the internet, and yet the algorithms which make the biggest sites on the web tick over push the same old stuff your way. They look for accounts, songs, music, videos, whatever, which fit neatly alongside your already existent tastes. So, yes there’s a bunch of weird eclectic shit amongst the digital neurons of the world wide web, but sometimes you’ve got to work to find it. Thing is, once you start finding that strangeness, once you start unearthing obscurities, the algorithms shift and start to offer you up more and more bizarre gifts until you begin hurtling down a deep internet rabbit hole from which you may never return.
Particularly if you like hearing weird old music, and I do. So, join me down the rabbit hole for a 6-song spell and I’ll pass along some obscure musical suggestions for your pleasure.
We’ll kick off, naturally, with some Bosnian post-punk that was waiting on my home page from whenever I last found myself drawn into the gravitational pull of a YouTube black hole.
Pauk – Mumije
This sounds like the theme song to a Balkan Batman spin-off. Pauk slap us with an extremely chunky bassline, which as the song progresses is joined by a haunting chorus of voices which are weaved against a squelching synth riff as the song comes to a cacophonous close.
Aha, and just like that my recommendation bar fills up with obscurity. Down the rabbit hole we go…
Seems like the algorithm has focused in on the synth element of the Puak track, offering up some Yugoslavian Synth-Pop for us, so shall we?
La Card – Jedno Zbogom Za Tebe
Pretty miraculous just how familiar something so obscure can sound. Anyone in tune with the Synthwave scene will feel immediately at home with this song, but frankly anyone who’s listened to any 80’s megahit ever will recognise the synthetic sounds which backed many of those pop hits, just in a far rawer, more punkish manner here.
Top of the next up list is another Yugoslavian Synth-Pop outfit.
Max & Intro – Ostavi Sve
A little more sparse and minimalist than the La Card track, Max & Intro have a strong New Order vibe going on here. The vocals feel quite blunt and harsh but hey, I have no idea what the words are. With the lyrical content stripped away it leaves the staccato rhythm of the low-key singing to create a kind of ominous, off-kilter sensibility to the song. But for all I know, it could be about rainbows and kittens.
The colourful artwork caught my eye for this next track, but then there’s not a whole lot else to go off, is there?
Denis i Denis – Soba 23.
Our rabbit hole has a distinctly Yugoslavian taste to it today, but that’s fine, this is another banger. Definitely another one for all the Synthwave heads out there, big Miami Vice, ocean drive, pacific highway vibes as the chirpy synth lead riff could be the leading tune out of a big 80’s TV theme. Again, lyrics are a complete unknown to me, but the vocals are emotionally charged and kind of sensually delivered. Definitely one for winding the windows down with, aviators on and all that.
Okay, with this next click I’ll try to get us out of Yugoslavia. Probably not out of the Balkans entirely, but I’m interested to hear what the other nations have for us.
And I’ve failed.
More Yugoslavian. New Wave this time, and although I was tempted to move on and find something else this is actually really something.
Laki Pingvini – Šizika
Wow. That sweet little guitar lick would have made this an absolute smash in the west, well, if it had English lyrics. The vocalist here does sound a bit sleepy, but I think it adds to the charm, once again the voice is just another instrument to me, the poetic aspect of any lyrical content is lost on my mono-lingual mind. Progression through the track is fantastic, building from a minimal piece of electro-pop with a catchy instrumental hook, to a guitar bridge in the centre of the song which fades into a fantastically bop-able (but all too short) chanting section, ending with the crashing of ocean waves amongst the faint, but sweet, sounds of a cheerful whistle. Bizarre. Brilliant.
Our final track takes us towards the latter stages of the 80’s and out of our Yugoslavian phase and into Croatia.
Ðavoli – Pricaj Mi a Ljubacvi
This one definitely has a more rock n roll vibe than our previous efforts, and in fact sounds a little like a euro-predecessor to Britpop, and certainly nails the jangly guitar feel we associate with other big bands making it big at the time, I’m thinking along the lines of The Stone Roses and Simple Minds. There is a sense of scale added by the echoed choir of cooing background vocals, and the way in which the vocalist isn’t afraid to push his voice to the top of his register, even breaking and wailing a couple of times with successful emotional effect. There is also a sick-ass saxophone riff for a middle-eight, which just puts a tasty little cherry on top of very effective pop-rock song.
And now, we come up for air. Out of the rabbit hole, into reality.
If you like what you read and heard today, or have some relevant suggestions for my continually expanding adventures in sound, don’t be afraid of that comment section. Any and all Yugoslavian New Wave experts are more than welcome.