I’ve recently discovered Serbian jazz fusion thanks to my friend and colleague Mr. Nikola Savić. I’ve liked the Vasil Hadžimanov Band for a while now, but the other day I started listening to Smak and fell in love. I’ve just begun to plumb the jazz-depths of this country that is unfortunately more well-known in the West for its terrorism and genocide than excellent musical tradition. It would be as if the Nazi Holocaust invalidated hundreds of years of German classical music.
EYOT is a newcomer to the Serbian jazz scene. Nick knows a lot more about them, and was actually supposed to write this review, but I think I can do a good job. Anyway if you want to find out more about the band, feel free to read the interview Nick did with Dejan Ilijić almost a year ago. We also have the title track of their album on our second Progstravaganza compilation Nick actually just saw them play in their home town of Niš, Serbia, the other day. Lucky, him!
EYOT is a very musically interesting band. Horizon makes me think of Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way because of its “quiet intensity”. Miles Davis’ album has a sort of divine subtlety to it that belies its incredible complexity. It’s a rhythmic masterpiece of delicate complexity. Horizon is similar in this way, but not musically. It achieves this same wonderful feeling via completely different methods, and this leads me to believe it was unintentional (despite Davis being listed as an influence). That said, the fact that they achieved it at all is wonderful, in my eyes. Another comparison could be made to Pekka Pohjola – the Finnish jazz fusion artist known for his tenure in Wigwam. I am reminded strongly of the title track on my favorite Pohjola album, Katkavaraan Lohikaarme (if you try to google the album keep in mind that it has a lot of umlauts that I can’t type on my American keyboard). Again, the music isn’t similar, but the basses manage to achieve the same goal for me – a sort of rhythmic bliss.
The quiet intensity on Horizon comes from the juxtaposition of Dejan’s grand piano over the driving beat of the rhythm section (Miloš and Marko on drums and bass, respectively). To complete the sound, we have Slađan with his incredibly spacey guitars. The best example of this that I can think of is their track “Stone Upon Stone Upon Stone”. The music is composed so subtly that it manages to build to a thundering crescendo without the listener even realizing it. Once you finally get it, waves of sound are crashing over you and suddenly fall down again to begin the next track. I also love that there are parts of the album that deviate strongly from this, such as the experimental parts of 3 Months Later, which includes a horn section, and the energetic finale, It’s Time to Go Home. This helps to ensure it doesn’t get monotonous, which is a good thing considering the album is over an hour long.
Musically I wouldn’t call this pure jazz, but spiritually and aesthetically it couldn’t be jazzier. It has jazz’s unpretentious “coolness” seeping throughout, just welcoming you in. It’s very spacy in a way though, somewhat like the various forms of psychedelic rock that Nick insists are different but to me all sound like twisted parodies of Ozric Tentacles (which is itself a twisted parody of a few things, so you figure it out).
Anyway, buy the album. Support new bands in countries far across the globe! Eat some Serbian kajmak and pljeskavica while listening to Eyot.
Here is Eyot’s Myspace.
And here is their regular website thingy.
01. Far Afield
02. Stone Upon Stone Upon Stone
03. If I Could Say What I Want to Say
04. All I Want to Say
06. 3 Months Later
08. Whale Song
09. It’s Time to Go Home
* Dejan Ilijić – grand piano
* Marko Stoiljković – bass
* Slađan Milenović – guitars
* Miloš Vojvodić – drums
* Vladan Drobicki – trombone (6)
* Vasko Bojadžiski – saxophone (6)