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Label: Egoton

Date: November 20th, 2022

To begin with, here are couple of cold hard facts. The orange cover you can see here is the one used on the first edition of this beautiful tape. Above it, you can see the grey version that adorns the second edition. Well, actually it’s silver, but you get the point. Also, you probably get that I own the second edition, since the first one was sold out almost before it was released. Limitation to just fifty copies did the trick, so a further hundred were published for the second press. My copy being number forty nine, you should hurry up and grab yours before it is again sold out. Nobody can claim that there will certainly be further pressings.

By the way, speaking about the packaging of the tape, it’s wrapped in cardboard which includes each band’s photo and logo, while the short insert contains links and (again) short liner note about the compilation itself. There’s no plastic case for the cassette included which, in my opinion, only adds to the charm of this release.

The label behind the tape, Egoton, is the brainchild of two individuals born and raised in this dreadfully difficult terrain I’m calling my home as well, former Yugoslavia, a powder keg exploding more often than not. Hence it is no wonder they’ve chosen their label’s logo to resemble the legendary Croatian label from the socialist era, now reactivated Jugoton Records. The fact that the duo now resides in Berlin, Germany is just autochthonous phenomenon that ever further depicts life in this region, which, in turn, perfectly fertilizes the soil for the growth of punk bands. Isn’t this a neat little circle?

The compilation in question houses eight bands from Serbia and Croatia. Some are fresher than others, both when it comes to the individuals within or with regards to their careers’ length. All of them, however, spawns of punk’s decades of development. From garage, through pure and hardcore, all the way to post punk. Also, the entire release is sung in Serbian language, which is indicative of the status on the scene where the bands no longer find the necessity to adapt to the “rules of engagement”. There’s more of a freedom of choice nowadays and the bands therefore do sound more at home with whatever choice they make.

Represented by two songs each, it’s just about enough for you to judge the bands and, should you find them attractive, support them further. Still, here I find the only fault with “Groblje Iluzija”. I would prefer the bands’ two tracks tied together. I believe it would be easier to follow up on the individual band’s sound and correctly estimate their capabilities with a couple of tracks back to back. As is the case here, with one song each on each of the two sides of the tape, and scrambled in order on side “A” versus side “B”… Well, let’s just say it creates an unnecessary mess.

With that one fault closeted, all the other aspects of “Groblje Iluzija” (“Graveyard of illusions”) are worthy of an utter and complete support. So much so that I had doubts about letting you know who and what’s on the tape itself. You should go to Egoton’s Bandcamp page and listen to the entire compilation immediately. Or better yet, go right ahead and find a copy of this stunning-looking cassette.

However, I cannot but at least mention the names and add short descriptions of what is to be found here. I’ll use the running order of side “B”, solely on a whim.

Kpax is based in Belgrade, Serbia and behind them are one demo and a self-titled LP debut. While their sound is described as post punk, and the description stands, there’s a lot of edge in there, so that the punks who strive away from the label “post” can easily enjoy them.

The band that closes in on fifteen years of existence, Kalo, are debuting on a physical release with these two tracks. Fast and aggressive punk, bordering on hardcore, is what characterizes the quartet from Novi Sad, Serbia.

Vršnjačko Nasilje is yet another representative of old school punk, though heavily reliant on Oi! However, “Prazne Priče”, their track on side “A” leans quite a bit on post punk harmonies.

One-woman show called Crna Žuč is a darkened, almost doomy, nihilistic, no wave, post punk project from a woman that is no stranger to the scene, but who somehow managed to dig even deeper into the sonic abyss. Interestingly enough, the lyrics remain your regular calls against the oppressive system and the mechanisms it (ab)uses to keep running on top of us. One would imagine something else to accompany such music, but hey, who am I to judge what is bothering Dragana.

Disznótor is, contrary to the obvious Hungarian origin of its name, also a Serbian band. They are constantly swerving around from pure old punk to hardcore, and are topped with frenzied distorted vocal effect.

I’ve judged Urlik as a rather non-convincing act in my report from To Be Punk Festival last autumn. In a studio setting they come off as a much stronger outfit. Mixing garage rock atmosphere with a fairly agile and somewhat melodic punk soundscape, you can actually feel just what they are conveying. Urlik left me wandering if I was at fault for not fully comprehending their live show. I can only promise to try checking them out again.

Svlak is based in Belgrade and two out of five tracks off their debut demo are present on “Groblje Iluzija”. Though that is the Bandcamp version. From what I could gather, the tape version of the demo comprises only three songs. Weird. Anyway, Svlak themselves dub their sound as melancholic punk. Which in this case is just a different way of saying post punk. Okay, sure, there’s some raw punk floating in there but it is indeed floating as the entirety of Svlak’s music (guitars in particular) feels like floating. In amongst the float one can also find a similar edge to what Kpax performs.

Intentionally left for the very end, Smrt Razuma, a cross-country-border band whose members come from Serbia and Croatia. As much as the formal relations between the two countries (according to corrupt politicians and crazed nationalists) are strung up, so is the sound of this band. A tight, hard hitting hardcore punk, spewing forth megatons of enragement, bitterness and strength for rebellion, Smrt Razuma’s two songs here took one spin to force me to go ahead and buy their debut LP. I’ve got nothing more to add.

So there you have it. Eight bands, sixteen tracks, beautiful design, a scene that refuses to be silenced with an attitude that can only drive you forward. If you’re not convinced by now, then…

 

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