Eastern Haze: November 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.

 

As the weather gradually turns from pretty and sunny to rainy and miserable, the latest happenings in this region are equally dismal. In Hungary, a new party has been established in anticipation of the upcoming elections, due in 2014. The party is called Magyar Hajnal, which means “Hungarian Dawn”. Modelled after the Greek party bearing a very similar name—the Golden Dawn—it was established by the radical wing of the already far right Hungarian party Jobbik. In Slovakia, where I come from, the municipal elections took place over the weekend. Usually these don’t elicit much interest outside the borders of the country, but this time the alarming success of an extremist candidate, a high school teacher who you could see walking around in a replica black uniform of the Slovak WWII-era Nazi puppet state, means it has to. A friend of mine from Bulgaria tells me about the omnipresent protests in her country, which have become almost invisible for the powers-that-be sat in their ivory towers while the rest of the country survives on two hundred euros a month salaries. Amid all this doom and gloom which, perhaps, we’ve become so used to that it doesn’t really shock us anymore, music gets produced, art gets created, books are written. The correlation between external forces and the creation of art are of not straightforward, particularly in these global times when artists tend to, or want to, be inspired by the global, not local. Nevertheless, this month I have come across the more introspective, solemn and psychotropic.

Bálint Zalkai is one of the integral parts of the fledgling Budapest electronic scene. He co-owns the Farbwechsel label, which is one of the driving forces, alongside Martin Mikolai aka Opal Tapes’ S Olbricht, with whom he also has a vintage house project called SILF. In his solo work under the moniker Alpár, Zalkai favours offbeat compositions, more kraut and kosmische than 4/4. When I asked him about Budapest, he said that the collaborative nature of the producers’ work in the city reminds him of the Zodiak Free Arts Lab, the legendary West Berlin music hub frequented by the likes of Conrad Schnitzler. Alpár will soon release a split album on the German label SicSic Tapes.

 

The London-based Slovak musician Daniel Kordík makes analog electronics. In contrast to the raw and unrelenting nature of his experimental oeuvre released under the Jamka name, his new solo work is perhaps more refined and subtle but equally haunting, which considering its title and place of origin of the sonics, is understandable. [Sy][ria] consists of five compositions primarily revolving around field recordings which he made between April and May 2011 in various locations across Syria, including Damascus, Maaloula, Deir ez-Zur, Aleppo and Hama. “Based on the ongoing events in Syria that would eventually break the country down into pieces, I cut my initial field recordings into small fragments and rearranged them into new compositions. At the end I decided to add two more tracks made on Vostok synthesiser,” says Kordík.

 

Nava Spatiala describe themselves as noisenautics. Much like psychonauts with their mind-altering substances, Nava Spatiala  experiment with mind-altering sonics, delivering a haunting, disembodied world devoid of any hope or solace. The drone-tastic tracks are a journey—both figuratively and literally—ranging from six to eighteen minutes.

 

The new Slovak project .soundscapes has emerged from the vibrant Bratislava techno and underground electronic scene of late. Their new EP Tides of Voltage is hypnotic and drone-y, echoing the likes of Raime, Haxan Cloak or Shackleton. The band’s name is unobtrusive which in a way mirrors the music itself, preferring to blend into the environment rather than stand out, operating within the liminal zones of consciousness. ~

 

You can read previous editions of Eastern Haze here.