envloop – Hillberg Tour Serbia Spring 2010
“Jonathan Harker’s Journal
3 May. Bistritz. Left Munich at 8:35 P. M, on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk through the streets. I feared to go very far from the station, as we had arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible.
The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most western of splendid bridges over the Danube, which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule…”
So well. Sounds as if somebody before me had taken the train from Vienna to the Balkans. Even if my train-car had been taken off in Budapest and attached to the Belgrade-Express instead following the route above to Bistrica – I wouldn´t have reported my travel-impressions in a too different way to my loved family home.
Of course many things have changed since Bram Stoker had sent his novel-heroe Jonathan Harker to the Balkans in a train: Neither Romania nor Serbia are anymore part of the Ottoman Empire, and that thing with the vampires…
Well, they long time ago transfomed themselves into very real and contemporary items, and appear in a very real 21sr-century shape as e.g. in the shape of skyscrapers of Austrian bank-corporations, covering the Balkans with a dense net of branch banks. And against this new plague which comes along in terms of the world economic crisis, crucifixes and garlic won´t help.
The train ride itself, same as it obviously was in times of Bram Stoker, still is a sort of the last little adventures remained. Whoever wants to travel the Balkans and has got time, be recommended to come by train.
Arrival belgrade, March 26th, 6 a .m.: My first visit goes to the head of our partner NGO www.eupulse.org. Mate Alex welcomes me with a massive, typical Serbian breakfast on which you probably could feed a full army-division. Not to forget: All this after having bought a Serbian SIM-Card – at up to 5 Euros roaming costs per minute a strict recommendation by the author to everyone travelling Serbia.
Crossing the extremely dense Belgrade city-traffic Alex brings me over to the house of Serbian music-journalist-legend Dusan Kalicanin, where I will stay for the next four days. And I immediately fall to sleep again.
Because tonight I gotta be fit and alert: Our Serbian partner-label bonbass records www.myspace.com/bonbassrecords has invited me to play with them on their release party in Belgrades new Indie-club KC Grad.
Meeting the crew of MistakeMistake, who run bonbass records, at the club located in the center of Belgrade is great.
The Belgrade-based Electro-band MistakeMistake has broght it to a kind of flagship of the Serbian electronic music scene in the recent years, and had I to describe their standing in the Balkans to my German friends, I would compare them to German Moonbotica: Twisted, massive sounds and combining a lot of different music styles.
Just no Balkan-Ethnobeats (Samples) – something that nowadays seems to characterize each and every music-piece that had been created anywhere south of Vienna´s southern city district Favoriten.
Their sound is rather a mix of Dub, Disco and massively rolling Elekkktro-lines, here and then massive enough it could derive from an ancient Soviet-machine-park.
MistakeMistake is calling – and after two hours the club is so packed you couldn´t drop even a screw from the named Soviet-machine-park on the floor.
So I give my best. And I am really happy, as the crowd congratulates me to my remix of MistakeMistakes brandnew Release “Out There” they did together with Jamaican Reggae legend King Ali Baba. As I get asked if this mix was really mine, not the new single of Renegade Soundwave or Dub Pistols, I swell with pride :): Exactly these band, RSW and Dub Pistols, had inspired me to this my specific remix.
A special highlight came along, when MistakeMistakes ex-singer MC Milovan entered the stage to perform along with his ex-crew.
Saturday afternoon I jump into the bus for Novi Sad north of Belgrade.
This city – second biggest of Serbia – might still be known for its bridge which had been bombed during the Jugoslavian war. At first sight Novi Sad reminds the visitor of a typical city of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg-Empire. Not a big surprise, had been the former “Ney Satz” plus its todays borough Petrovaradin the main outpost of the Habsburg monarchy against the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans and had been the battleground for the final battle against the Turks in 1716.
There is nothing left over from the sound of Austrian military-music and Janichars-orchestras back then today, though.
The new sound of Novi Sad is presented each new summer on the world-famous EXIT-festival located on the Fortress of Novi Sad.
Not only due to this Novi Sad has long become a kind of a secret electronic music-epicenter in Southeastern Europe: Downtempo/Breakbeat artist Crni Dule, MC Muha, Reggae artist Adam Rakic or my hosts Hain Teny – just to drop a few names.
So Hain Teny are releasing their unique Nujazz-sound on the Paris-based label Ice & Spice and recently together with Cayetano on Austrian based label Etage Noir.
But tonite there will be no space for Nujazz: Tonite I will let there be Rave! – as much as the soundsystem of the Cuba Libre Club in the city-center of Novi Sad can take.
Along with dropping our envloop records tunes the latest release of the Austrian formation A.G.Trio “Dancen” gets dropped on the harddisk, same as this massive tune “Smash Grab Down South” by New Jersey, US-based artist DJ Harv, who still had sent me his rocking piece briefly before I had left.
Because tonites issue ist o prove my Austrian homestudio als has changed in sound from the old Habsburg-Empire days on.
Little later the venue is boiling, and that´s the way we like it.
For me it is clear: Novi Sad has an excellent crowd, and anytime a next invitation comes along – my bags are packed!
For all who want to get a picture oft he sound of Novi Sad by themselves – you´ll get a chance on April 31st at Vienna´s Café Leopold and May 1st at Linz´ Solaris, when Hain Teny will be touring Austria.
Sunday, Monday: Back to Belgrade. The busride which takes one and a half hours is persuasive: Never ever in my life I will try to travel from Austria to Serbia by bus! Right passing the outer boroughs of Novi Sad my back and my knees start to hurt…
Back to Belgrade meeting with MistakeMistake at their studio. Last parameter-setting on my remix, then off to a nearby typical Serbian “pivarna”, where further cooperation is talked over whilst enjoying a nice “Jelen-pivo” and tones of meat named “Raznici”.
Monday, March 29th, departure day: I still take a chance to walk around in the city-center on Belgrades main streets Terazije and Kneza Mahaila. I close my tour with a visit of the Fin de Siecle-café at Hotel Moskva on Terazije street.
Crosstown at rush hour I get dropped at Belgrades Main Station which still looks exactly the same as in the classic James Bond movie “From Russia With Love”.
This is, where the story ends: Taking the nightrain back home which gets you there in a definitively better shape than Bram Stokers Jonathan Harker. And so the omnly “vampire” I met on my whole trip was the cab driver back home charging me 10 Euros something. But that´s a different “vampires” story…
DJ Hillberg for envloop records and kunst- und kulturverein eupulse