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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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Gladia Moony: “We write songs about disconnection to feel less disconnected”

Gladia Moony: “We write songs about disconnection to feel less disconnected”

There are bands that for some reason don’t sound anything like what you imagined when you first saw the band name. And then there are bands such as the Slovak four-piece with a beautiful sounding (and easily searchable) name Gladia Moony which somehow reflects the sci-fi tinged and dreamlike essence of their sound perfectly. It’s a relatively new project which brings together four experienced musicians – Alex Lukáčová, Adam Dekan, Martin Madro and Martin Kosorín – who despite their various tastes and backgrounds clearly share a vision. In making of their first EP Black Sugar, which came out last year, they took the time to process a broad range of influences (musical or otherwise) and nurture a sound that is their own. Their lyrics deal with many dark clouds that linger above humanity, be it estrangement, loneliness or increased dependency on technology. Complimenting heavier content with a more playful sound, the band hopes to push the boundaries of pop music while remaining accessible to a relatively wide audiences.

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Interslavic: Embracing the Slavic Heritage

Interslavic: Embracing the Slavic Heritage

Three live performances and two DJ sets will take place in Berlin’s Monarch venue on March 13th as part of Interslavic – a night connecting and promoting musicians of Slavic descent. Behind the event is a duo of Berlin-based singers and producers Dmitrievna and Veronica Maximova, who took on the role of organisers and will be appearing on stage as well. I exchanged emails with Dmitrievna, discussing not only the upcoming event but in a broader sense the prevailing misconceptions against Eastern Europeans, the tendency to conceal one’s heritage and the realisation that this isn’t the way forward.

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Awali: “Music flows through me like a river”

Awali: “Music flows through me like a river”

Her music requires concentration. If you cut yourself off from the hectic world that is out there, mute your own noisy thoughts and listen, you’ll be able to appreciate the beauty that lies within the delicate sound texture created by the Prague-based singer, producer and composer Awali. Synthesizer sounds, sonic experiments, very often field recordings and her soft voice intertwine to form compositions that seem very organic, as if they had a breath of their own – even though they largely originate from machines. Sometimes she sings, sometimes she works with spoken word and sometimes an instrumental piece is complete as it is. For a long time, she saw herself as a composer and not a singer, but eventually gained more confidence in her singing.

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Dudey: “There is something very special brewing here”

Dudey: “There is something very special brewing here”

Dudey is a singer, composer and producer based in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Though she sees herself (and rightly so) rooted in the club music scene which is currently in full bloom, her roots go further back into alternative rock that she grew up listening to. Or as she puts it in her bio, she “manages to synthesize house music with gothic-influenced songwriting”. Who would say no to that? 

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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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