The development of Slovenian progressive rock, part 1

Not many people are aware of the progressive rock scene from Slovenia. Admittedly, the scene is quite small, but there are several albums which can hold their own quite well against any so-called world class records. The specific elements typical of Slovenian progressive rock are: heavy emphasis on jazz rock, often an added element of folk, a willingness to experiment, many hard rock elements in certain bands, a more positive oriented sound, hardly any symphonic bands, no space rock in the 1970s and 1980s and no electronic progressive music to speak of.

HEAVY PROGRESSIVE

Slovenian musicians were also favourable towards the heavier side of things, which can clearly be seen even in arguably the only Slovenian avant-garde band to come out of the 1970s, Buldožer, and Oko.

Buldožer – Pljuni istini u oči (1975)
(Click on the cover to hear a song from the album)

Although many credit Buldožer with being the first Slovenian avant-garde rock band, Buldožer played mostly hard progressive rock with a touch of humour in the Frank Zappa style (that’s where their title probably came from), but they didn’t incorporate that many disonnant and unorthodox ideas into their music to be really avant-garde.

Oko – Razkorak (1976)
(Click on the cover to hear a song from the album)

Although the album features mostly hard rock, there are a couple of jazz rock numbers that make this a worthwhile prospect for progressive fans. Pavle Kavec was a Hendrix officionado and still remains so, and it is quite evident in the style of the recording. Think of Hendrix minor – not in the same league, but still pleasant. If not for some of the jazzier tendencies, this would be a pretty forgetable affair, but still vital in the development of Slovenian progressive rock.

JAZZ ROCK

In Slovenia (and Yugoslavia), jazz has always enjoyed a very high status, both among musicians and fans. So it’s no surprise that the majority of the bands now considered as progressive were actually playing a variety of jazz rock. Many of them added their own recognisable elements into the mix, but many times jazz rock was the basis for their endeavours.

September – Zadnja Avantura (1976)
(Click on the cover to hear a song from the album)

Singer Janez Bončina, who was responisble for most of the songwriting on this album, recruited some amazing musicians for the debut of September. Among them was also Tihomit Pop Asanovič, who had just had a successful stint with Croatian band Time. September managed to take good advantage of their individual qualities and create a fun jazz rock album. Constantly revolving around Bončina’s strong vocal delivery and his ideas.

Izvir – Izvir (1978)
(Click on the cover to hear a song from the album)

As one of the few early Slovenian bands to actually try to infuse some symphonic progressive elements (primarily due to Andrej Konjajev’s excellent and versatile keyboards) into their brand of jazz-rock, Izvir released their one and only album in 1978. The album featured some truly outstanding guitar and keyboard work, with a more than solid melodic backdrop. This album is in itself quite strong, but even more than that a testimony of what could have been.

Predmestje – Danes, včeraj in… (1979)
(Click on the cover to hear a song from the album)

Predmestje continued in the tradition September had set up a few years earlier – very catchy and accessible jazz rock which is easy to listen to. Their sound was reminiscent to Izvir,except less epic. When they got going, there were really some sparks flying around. Not many bands managed to survive on the progressive rock scene as Predmestje.

Jutro – Dobro jutro (1980)
(Click on the cover to hear a song from the album)

A less than spectacular album shows this band tackling jazz rock with the emphasis very much on jazz. They come up with some memorable moments on accoasion, but unfortunately those moments are all too rare and most of the time they remained stranded in pointless improvisation and looking for a melody to dig them out of the hole.

This special is originally written for TheRocktologist.com

1 Comment

  1. Roger T

    November 6, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Excellent article! The only problem is you’ve given me dozens more bands to listen to – can you find me some extra time too! :)

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