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VISIONS OF ZHIVA

PRESENTING MUSIC FROM CENTRAL EUROPE

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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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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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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Georgia Special: Visions of Zhiva in Tbilisi

Georgia Special: Visions of Zhiva in Tbilisi

Georgia is having a moment. There’s been much hype around this beautiful Caucasus region country this year: Travel websites ranked it among top destinations to visit and lifestyle magazines seem to have found in Tbilisi the new capital of cool after the alleged “death” of traditional culture hubs such as London or Berlin. Meanwhile in Tbilisi, young people are raving for social change and 4/4 has become the soundtrack for a progressive revolution. Despite the obstacles posed by the state’s conservative institutions, these are exciting times for Georgian electronic music. “The local scene is absolutely booming with talent that’s searching for an outlet. Anyone who pays any attention will see that there’s something very special brewing here,” says singer and producer Dudey.

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Lithuania Special: Visions of Zhiva in Vilnius

Lithuania Special: Visions of Zhiva in Vilnius

Before my trip to Vilnius, I was searching for some interesting Lithuanian bands and someone who would be able and willing to sit down for a drink and explain the particularities of the independent music scene in the small Baltic republic. I stumbled across an insider’s guide to Vilnius in the Guardian which turned out to be relevant still despite having been published three years back. I reached out to the author – an Englishman in Vilnius called George East – and I received a prompt reply. He’s not in the music business any longer but he’s keen to meet up and tell me all about the Lithuanian music scene. We were joined by his mate Mark Adam Harold who has been living in Vilnius for years and happens to be the director of Music Export Fund – an NGO which helps young musicians to jumpstart their career.

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A Talk by the Beat Music

A Talk by the Beat Music

Beseda u bigbítu is a small festival in the southeast corner of the Czech Republic, or the Moravian region to be more precise. Vineyards cover the hillocks of this picturesque region where time seems to pace slower than in the rest of the world. At the start of August, as the initial summertime euphoria spills into the melancholy of its second half, music fans from the region and beyond convene under the poplar trees just outside the town of Tasov. This year marked the 26th edition of the festival.

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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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