Brazen and blazing, Serbian fusion ensemble step up for amazing international debut.
The marriage of Balkan effusiveness and Berkley discipline is bound to be something to behold: perhaps, that’s why this band’s first album beyond Serbia is a concert one. Recorded at various venues but unified by Vasil Hadžimanov’s improvisatory spiralling around a tune, where his keyboards run in a centrifugal fashion, the eight pieces on display reflect a wide spectrum of approaches, from unbridled to impassive, aimed to get the best out of melody.
As a way of introduction it’s perfect – although the set doesn’t seem to reference any of the group’s five studio platters – so the initially clean-cut “Nocturnal Joy” wisely, adding layer upon layer of joy, evolves into a tropical throb in a gradual manner. David Binney’s sax may join in to ruffle a samba-like percussion, bring the dance to a contemplative halt and launch it anew, yet it’s Hadžimanov’s ivories that provide a platform for the festival of sound. In its whirl, the tribal chant of “Zulu” comes as a respite from the dense funk, spanked with Branko Trijic’s guitar fury, before a spaced-out synthesizer’s cameo on the track’s coda is expanded in “Tovirato” and lets exotic vocals in to contrast the piano melancholy of “Razbolje se šimšir list,” Vasil’s solo spot.
Thinned out on “Odlazim” for the sake of arresting transparency, the groove turns twangy for “Dolazim” to meld Middle Eastern crawl to the West Coast surf, but the elegy of “Uaiya” gains even more momentum, reaching for hectic ecstasy and taking Miroslav Tovirac’s bass to the front to shake one’s nether regions. All these elements fuse in “Otkriće snova” whose retrofuturistic vibe is a not-so-succinct encapsulation of the band’s fragile balance between beautiful chaos and well-ordered flight of imagination. To behold it from the audience must be quite an experience.