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Leb I Sol -  Leb I Sol  CD (album) cover

LEB I SOL

Leb I Sol

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.10 | 41 ratings

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clarke2001
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This review is dedicated to my old acquaintance, Sonja H.

What a debut, what a band! They sound like they re-invented some genres and fused them in a unique way..well, they did. LEB I SOL is a band that was always bordering between fusion and (Balkan) folk. They were riding on that thine line from the very beginnings - of course, inclining towards a more regressive dimension in the 80's - pop music. However, their entire career is worth checking, and the first two albums are the best.

They were not the pioneers in incorporating Balkan scales and odd meters in rock music (check SMAK), but what they did was never heard before and never surpassed, not even today.

The albums starts with "Devetka" ("Nine"), cool, almost funky groove on Hohner clavinet in 9/4 (or slow 9/8) and tight drum playing, with layers of shifted/delayed guitar melody (borrowed from the old Macedonian folk tune). Delay effect is very simple, I dare to say primitive, but the effect is great. Koki's ornamenting with sparkling electric piano and his trademark portamento synth (Sequential Pro-One, if I'm not much mistaken) solos. A great start.

"Pod Vodom" ("Under The Water") has opening melody in a Balkan folk vein (although in 4/4), but the rest of the songs continues towards furious jazz-rock, with jazzy solos on keys and remarkable guitar melody. "Utrinska Tema" ("Utrina Theme") is the first of three numbers with vocals. Vlatko, the guitar player, was taking the role of singer when necessary, and he is not an outstanding singer by no means - but his voice is pleasant and non-pretentious. It would be a bit too much to expect from an outstanding guitar player to be a great vocal performer too, however, this song is beautiful (melody) although it seems a bit undeveloped (fade out occurs during the guitar solo).

After the fade out, a drum solo! Oh, how I hate drum solos.

This one is one-minute intro to "Kokoska" ("Chicken"), which is, in my opinion, one of the best songs in the history of progressive rock. I can easily forgive the drum solo, it's really impressive anyway. I won't go into an in-depth analysis of my darling, but just to let you know, this is the PORTRAIT, they managed to portrait a chicken with musical instruments, with octave jumps on Clavinet, with 7/8+9/8 killing section that sounds really like a chicken, pointlessly walking around and searching for food.

After that, "Nisam Tvoj" ("I'm Not Yours") is just a beautiful love ballad, nothing less, nothing more. It won't mean much if you don't know the language. However, electric piano is following the vocal melody...just perfectly. Pay attention.

"U Senci" ("In The Shadow") is a bit below par with the rest of the songs: it's not bad at all - it contains the same furious jazz-rock energy as "Pod Vodom", and some folk-based ultra-fast guitar licks, but sounds like a mixture of Weather Report, Return To Forever, Mahavishnu - you name it, and hell, it reminds a bit too much of Billy Cobham's "Magic" (released the same year).

"Cudo Za Tri Dana" (I don't know how to translate the figure of speech - literally "A Miracle For Three Days") is fortunately short (less than 3 minutes) and it's just a bland attempt of the band to make a sweet ballad - lyrics are atrocious. However, I will forgive it because of a few nice Mellotron layers and a certain spleen of naive, not so untypical in Yugoslavian songs of the era.

"Pesma O Sonji H." ("The Song About Sonja H.") is down-tempo jazz ballad, perhaps a tad unpolished. Koki contributes with gorgeous piano section, a bit tacky though.

Finally, "Damar". Ugh..how to translate it? Never mind. A brilliant jazzy tune with hard 'n' heavy edge, powerful soloing, and great driving, high-pitched bass.

In conclusion, this album is a milestone of progressive rock in former Yugoslavia; a new expression that will leave significant traces in contemporary music from prog to blend pop up to this day; the debut of the legends. I can't express enough how this debut was significant and influential.

And it deserves very special place in my heart, too. However (sigh), I can't force myself to rate it with five stars. In more than a one way it, is a masterpiece. But there are a few flaws that are setting the scale just a little bit below the 4,5 line. Anyway, don't hesitate to get it. It's mandatory.

clarke2001 | 4/5 |

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