Eastern Haze: July 2013

Words by Lucia Udvardyova

In her monthly report, Lucia Udvardyova tracks the movements in and from the best of the Central and Eastern European sonic underground, distilling the best of her Easterndaze blog. Read previous editions of the column here.

 

The onset of summer finds me en route to Berlin, the EastWest hedonistic hideaway, where we showed some Eastern videos at the imposing socialist realist building of the Czech Centre, featuring a lot of concrete estates, languid environs and dark moods. We take a Mitfahrt, a passenger ride, from Alexanderplatz, the “sandwich express” as we call it because our driver comes to Berlin each weekend to sell food to international crowds of hungry clubgoers and drives back to Prague on a Sunday. We stop in Velemin, a small village, to drink beer for 50 cents a pint at a local pub surrounded by regulars in various states of alcohol-induced disarray—we either crossed the German border or regressed back in time. He plays music in the car, throbbingly loud and without any mercy to our hapless bodies ravaged by sleepless Berlin nights. Our next stop is Bosnia, the country most affected by the Balkan war, now replaced with the omnipresent void. The only local music project we have found so far, unsurprisingly, is a harsh noise band.

“Proč jsme se nepotkali zaživa?” – Why We Haven’t Met Alive?, is the title of a mixtape, released by a Prague-based netlabel Signals of Arkaim. A hauntological Czechoslovak manifesto, which recontextualizes various hits and bits from the productions of the Brno Czechoslovak TV studio, found its source material in the period spanning between 1967 and 1993. These 25 years were marked by dense, claustrophobic atmospheres, a general state of hopelessness and stringent state control. Ironically, it was called “Normalization”, because, as I read in a period magazine, “all normal people—and in Czechoslovakia most people are normal—want normal things”. The mixtape reflects this perfectly, with its haunting passages, random vocal samples and absurd juxtapositions.

S Olbricht’s Opal Tapes release is out now for your listening pleasure. Martin Mikolai is a fledgling Hungarian producer and owner of the Farbwechsel imprint which has championed several up-and-coming musicians from his motherland. I’ve met Martin often whilst in Budapest, usually either at various nocturnal hours in one of the city’s night haunts, or at our mutual friend Zoltán’s Újpest’s flat/studio, where the guys often record with Zoli’s burgeoning vintage synth collection. Martin’s latest S Olbricht tape is a romantic lo-fi house and techno record, with dreamy interludes and somnambulist atmospheres. Never too dark or hard, it rather floats in the ethereal.

Lightning Glove are from Prague, an audiovisual collective of music activists, angry, relentless and determined. Their music emanates from the existential and guttural, the harrowing vocals and electronics weave a yearning soundtrack to abandoned rave fields. A few months ago, they supported Gnod and this led to a release on the Salford group’s label Tesla Tapes. Dub-inflected and airy, Raving Peacocks Tail pursues helium-induced states, echoing from a veil of ersatz nostalgia.  ~