Radio Quarantine – Sounds of Ex-Yugoslav Doom (Vol. 1 & 2)

Braće Borozan building block in Split 3, Split taken by Dinko Kovačić and Mihajlo Zorić (2016).
Željava Air Base on the border between Croatia and Bosnia

Two YouTube Mixes from HAUNTOLOGY HOUSE

Back in the Balkans this morning. Not a lot to say about that, except it works for me. It’s pretty clear now who I am and where I’m coming from. Not to say that there are never surprises. I’m a 3-dimensional human after all, and maybe 4 or 5 but that’s not for me to say. What is it about the vibe? Is it the result of growing up on a dying river, filled with PCBs and various toxins. Was it the abandoned factories and quarries? The nickel-cadmium cancer cluster from the old Marathon/Sonotone battery plant? Therapy never went far enough to excavate this part of it. I’ve always been drawn to the shattered, and that probably includes people too, for better and worse.

This first mix is from the decade immediately preceding the collapse of the Soviet Union, after which Yugoslavia shattered into jagged shards. I wonder if anyone had any prior knowledge of the horror that came next, that decades old feud that exploded into depraved violence. Does the edge in this music foreshadow it? I’ve no answer to that.

Track List: 1. 0:00:00​ Phantasmagoria – Poziv U Raj (Croatia, 1989) 2. 0:03:58​ Trivalia – Iza Vrata (Serbia, 1990) 3. 0:07:20​ Trivalia – To Nisam Više Ja (Serbia, 1987) 4. 0:10:44​ Demolition Group – Bad Gag (Slovenia, 1986) 5. 0:16:04​ Pauk – Mumije (Bosnia, 1982) 6. 0:20:17​ Trivalia – Sion (Serbia, 1991) 7. 0:27:03​ Morbidi and Mnoci – Put (Serbia, 1987) 8. 0:31:28​ Paraf – Zastave (Croatia, 1984) 9. 0:35:06​ Rascep Gospodina Karazmicinskog – Ples Svetlosti i Ples Mraka (Serbia, 1983) 10. 0:39:37​ Naumaxia – Lugeto Nasi (Macedonia, 1990) 11. 0:43:39​ Demolition Group – You Better… (Slovenia, 1986) 12. 0:48:02​ Paraf – Živela Jugoslavija! (Croatia, 1986) 13. 0:50:22​ Bigoti – Belka (Serbia, 1986) 14. 0:58:20​ [H I D D E N T R A C K] Grupa 220 – Osmijeh (Croatia, 1967)

Track List: 1. 0:00:00​​ Nezaboravan San O… – Lament Blijedih Zora (Croatia, 1989) 2. 0:03:35​ Romantične Boje – Bez Tebe (Serbia, 1985) 3. 0:06:49​ Naumahija – Spokoj (Macedonia, 1988) 4. 00:11:28​ Stigmata – Walterkömpff (Croatia, 1988) 5. 00:15:32​ Avangarda – Apokalipsa (Serbia, 1989) 6. 00:19:00​ Psihokratija – Strah (Serbia, 1988) 7. 00:20:37​ Boye – Mikrosvet (Serbia, 1988) 8. 00:22:46​ Romantične Boje – Jesenje Magle (Serbia, 1985) 9. 00:27:46​ Naumahija – Naumahijaj (Macedonia, 1987) 10. 00:30:33​ Nezaboravan San O… – Noći Bez Utra (Croatia, 1989) 11. 00:35:26​ Paraf – Nikad, Nikad, Nikad (Croatia, 1984) 12: 00:39:47​ Stigmata – Hera (Croatia, 1988) 13. 00:43:32​ Diskretni Šarm Buržoazije – Yah Yah (Croatia, 1983) 14. 00:45:58​ Kleopatra – Oktomvri (Macedonia, 1988) 15. 00:49:09​ Mizar – Da Peam Pesna (Macedonia, 1991) 16. 00:52:43​ Psihokratija – Fantazma (Serbia, 1988) 17. 00:55:49​ Stigmata – Last Night (Croatia, 1988) 18. 00:59:21​ Pleroma – Verdict (Slovenia, 1989) 19. 01:04:05​ Trivalia – Ovo Nije Moj Svet (Serbia, 1991)

More of the same in this mix. The person who compiled them said it’s made by “the ghosts of Yugoslavia” and many of them are probably ghosts by now, if such things exist. Despite my fevered disbelief and agnosticism/atheism regarding the gods of the Middle East, I’m still superstitious and inclined to believe that there is more to it than these flesh sacs we inhabit. There’s no evidence and plenty of imagination so where those two join is anyone’s guess.

If you had asked me in the 80s I would have told you that Yugoslavia was one of the first European countries I wanted to visit. That’s a holiday that never came about but in my imagination it was truly where the Socialist dream existed. It seemed a paradise from where we sit over here. You couldn’t have told me that it would it would blow up so quickly the way it did without a central authority. it seemed quick anyway but old resentments die hard. They don’t go away so easily. Who knows? From my perspective the people looked happy. The sky was blue and the trains ran on time.

And they were creative with their use of concrete! I wonder how much of the Soviet era architecture is left. I’d love to find out. Bucket list travel? We’ll see. I’ve no idea what to expect. Just something different, a change of scenery. I’m largely bored by the city architecture in New York City, with a few exceptions here and there. We seem torn here between preserving pre-WW2 as a monument to… to something… and ultra-modern. Neither excite me very much. Yes, art-deco masterpieces like the Chrysler Building are impressive. The American Standard Building near that is interesting. New York is a hodgepodge though. When it comes to ideas or themes it’s like ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. It’s like a hoarder’s apartment. There may be items of unspeakable value but they’re buried under trash. So yes, a change of scenery would be nice but I’ve no idea what to expect anywhere. I know what I’m looking for though and that’s important.

This music though… The music. It’s dark. I like dark. I do understand, however, that this is a curated collection so I don’t know if the “author” of these mixtapes had dark in mind or if it’s representative of the 80s in Yugoslavia. What was the prevailing musical zeitgeist then? All my points of reference are the punk and post-punk of the UK and USA, which was all over the place as far as mood. Was there something in the Balkans that led to a vibe more akin to Joy Division and Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy than to the synth pop of say… earlier Depeche Mode or ABC or Spandau Ballet? Heaven 17? I would kind of like to believe there was but who knows? This is probably one of many scenes in the cities of the former Yugoslavia. They weren’t exactly stuck behind the Iron Curtain with the other Soviet states, and even those weren’t as closed off culturally as we were led to believe back then.

The answers I’m looking for are probably readily accessible now with a few web searches. I’m not exactly lazy but maybe I’d rather create my own mystery and mythology around all of it. Aw hell, I’ll do the research and find out. Time to shower up now for the work day. It’s going to be a long week if only a short work week. There is plenty to do. Taxes, Covid vaccine finally. Surgery for the old dawg. Plenty to do and little motivation but it’s not about what we want to do on most days, is it?


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