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VISIONS OF ZHIVA

PRESENTING MUSIC FROM CENTRAL EUROPE

xDZVØNx: “It is just kind of vomiting glitter” 

xDZVØNx: “It is just kind of vomiting glitter” 

The music of xDZVØNx is often loud and distorted like a buzz of a malfunctioning electronic device and movingly atmospheric in the quieter moments. It’s the act of smashing this over-polished filter glass that we spend most of our lives looking through. Destruction is a creative force, and not only in the smash itself. Afterwards they pick up the shards and piece them back together into something new. Inspired by the corruptive power of glitch art and the severe shapes of brutalist architecture, the Wrocław-based duo finds a dark kind of poetics in unexpected places. I exchanged emails with Bora and Snufkin, who are now working on new material instead of playing shows to promote their new album Everything We Dreamt About.

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MacroNoise: “The track is about a sort of childish attachment to the place where you were born”

MacroNoise: “The track is about a sort of childish attachment to the place where you were born”

Meditative electronics soundscapes of the Slovak-born and currently Prague-based producer MacroNoise are often populated with disparate elements that fit surprisingly well, such as the child choir sampled from a scene of 1960 film on the latest track called Domovina (Homeland). In my head they sometimes evoke images of cells shuffling about on the microscope slide and because of their pronounced rhythm patterns they sound like some imaginary ancient rituals. The release of his new tracks and the video for it sparkled the idea of a short tour and it was in this matter that MacroNoise (real name Tomáš Šebesta) got in touch. We met up in a cosy Berlin bar to talk about the creative power of coincidence, revisiting his roots and the experimental electronic scene.

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Gwerkova: “It’s important to keep making music and to keep it clean”

Gwerkova: “It’s important to keep making music and to keep it clean”

Enchanting female vocal inhabits a delicate landscape of gentle guitar and ethereal electronic sounds that mostly soothe and sometimes prickle a little bit. It’s a place far away from the rush and chaos that shape our daily lives, a quiet retreat on the edge of time and space where everything floats like a jellyfish in the deepest ocean blue. As does the painting on the cover of their 2015 album Safari, the music of the Slovak band Gwerkova radiates a specific kind of warmth and glows some sort of transcendental energies – I always thought the cover art to be extremely fitting. I had a lovely chat with the guitarist Zsuszi about the band’s history which meanwhile spans over a decade (they first started in 2008), keeping far away from the main-stream, environmental concerns and the upcoming tour.  

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Molchat Doma: “The houses stand there silently and inspire us to be creative”

Molchat Doma: “The houses stand there silently and inspire us to be creative”

A band operating on the borderlines of post-punk, new-wave and darker ends of synth-pop, hailing from a country no one knows much about (which, in this case, can’t be attributed solely to the audiences’ ignorance but has to do with the fact that this particular country is being pretty secretive for European standards), playing music that is dark and danceable at the same time, that is a perfect emulation of the genre yet instantly recognisable as theirs, with lyrics sung in their native language on top of that – that sounds like a summary of everything a contemporary goth can wish for, and it also sounds an awful lot like the Belarusian band Molchat Doma (which translates as “houses are silent”).

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Super Besse

Coldwave from Belarus

Their latest album Un Rêve was recorded partly in Minsk and partly in Berlin, and the later seems to have left its mark. Vocals, which used to be prominent on their earlier records, now remain distant and the beat sounds like it was made to fill old industrial halls. 

Ai fen

Trauma pop from Poland

The Prague-based Polish-Chinese artist explores her othered-self, her own vocal abilities and vulnerabilities. Her solo debut postforever grapples with our tendency to understand time linearly and the inherent implication that after every era there will come another one which will then be labelled as “post”. 

Europe is easy to travel but her cultures are hard to access if you don’t speak respective national languages. On similar grounds, it is not easy for musicians to reach listeners beyond their country of origin. Visions of Zhiva is an English speaking zine presenting artists from Central Europe to broader audiences.

Zhiva is the anglicised spelling of the name Živa (also Živena, Siwa). The Slavic goddess of life and fertility was worshipped in the region of today’s Poland, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia before the arrival of Christianity.

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