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Sunday, 12 August 2012

Katarina Juvancic & Dejan Lapanja - Selivke

Based on watching Slovenian folk duo Katarina Juvancic and Dejan Lapanja playing a live set I entertained quite a few misconceived ideas of how their debut album would sound.
In my head it already existed as soft strains of acoustic guitar overlaid with vocals, and very little else.
I fully expected some sparse beauty, but instead what I got was an album heavy in accomplished musicianship that effortlessly jumps from gypsy folk to riffing rock.
An album with a real bite to it that has pleasantly, and playfully, slapped the stereotypical expectations that I had out of my head.
On a track like Mene Nema the listener is very easily transported to a New York loft where the song wouldn't have sounded out of place if it had been an artistic statement dreamt up by Lou Reed and Andy Warhol as part of a Velvet Underground session.
Elsewhere there's the flavour of Leonard Cohen in how the phrasing and music co-exists together that is rather evocative.
Then later again, just as you may think that you are beginning to get to grips with what is going on, Katarina playfully wraps herself around a bluesy track like 'Balada o rozki in vrtnen palcku' that conjures up an image of Bjork jamming with the Doors, but only after it has schizophrenically went through some apparent personality issues as a song.
Make no mistake. This is a real musical journey that takes you around the globe as it cherry picks what it wants from every country and era that it chooses to.
It's all rather astounding.
Throughout the very wide breadth of music that has been approached it sounds like the duo have stolen all the instruments that the Slovenian National Orchestra had, and in an act of rebellious mischief used every damn one.
And used them well.
I could make quite a credible argument that this is a punk folk album due to how it has a foundation in folk story telling that has been built on with the attitude of partially rewriting the rule book on how a traditional style should be approached.
However, while I could wax lyrical about how much enjoyment that 'Selivke' has given me, it would be remiss of me not to draw attention to there not being one singular phrase throughout it that is sung in English.
While this may be something that will make an English speaking music fan think twice about purchasing it, I would advocate throwing caution to the wind as my lack of understanding - of what I am told is stories about women – has not been a barrier to the appreciation that I have for the album.

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