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Begnagrad - Begnagrad CD (album) cover





3.80 | 34 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars BEGNAGRAD was one of the first rock bands to emerge from Slovenia which when their eponymously titled sole album was released, still existed as a part of the greater communist Yugoslavia. While rock music had always been popular in the underground of these former lands segregated from the Western world, success wasn't as easily achieved especially when their ambitions steered towards the crazy, complex progressive rock fortified with imaginative styles of blending their own ethnic folk with the unexpected outbursts of hyperactive avant-prog and experimental noise. This band was initiated by Bratko Bibič who steered the band to create one of the most unique and bizarre mixes of avant-prog and Balkan folk with playful crazy Zappa-esque chaotic folklore laced with crazy time signatures, highly unorthodox compositional styles which often dips into the extremely wild, weird and adventurous.

The music is chock filled with all kinds of competing instrumentation with a caffeinated accordion sound often leading the way from Bibič himself who also tackles the melodica, piano and utters some of the sparse vocals that jump out from time to time. Bogo Pečnikar covers the clarinet, ocarina and the many whistling sections that add an utterly unique aspect to their crazed sense of Rock In Opposition statements. Ale? Rendla not only covers the drums and congas which can be quite energetic at times but also adds his violin playing skills which also adds a touch of chamber rock to the mix. Nino De Gleria plays both electric and acoustic bass as well as mandolin and provides the extra touches in the whistling segments. There's also other sounds like a jew's harp that pop in occasionally.

The music is more or less based on the local Eastern European accordion led folk style but once a melody is established it doesn't take long to veer off into left-field with all kinds of mondo bizarro curve balls thrown in often with the instruments existing in their own private Idaho. The music is quite playful in the tradition of Zappa's most humorous stuff but the music never belies the region from which it came with accordion led waltzes, ethnic themes and cafe styled folk but just as the listener becomes inured to the calm and familiar, the music can take a quick turn into frightening sounds of cacophonous and angry instruments at battle with each other. To say this is quirky would be an understatement where even gargling of water is used as an instrument. Quite a unique and fun little album that showed a band ready for unhinged freedom in their musical expressions. In fact there are some Samla Mammas Manna type moments as well.

While BEGNAGRAD would only put out one album at the time, there would be a couple archival releases to be released in the 90s. Bibič would go on to perform more normal Slovenian folk music in the 90s with Bratko Bibič & The Madleys but also keep his prog itch scratched in the avant-folk Accordion Tribe and the avant-prog Nimal. Nino De Gleria would continue the style of BEGNAGRAD in his next band Quatebriga that would pick up soon after this band's demise. This is highly recommended for those who love traditional ethnic styled folk music totally crazed and unhinged with tons of bizarre unexpected twists and turns and dressed up with progressive rock features such as time signature deviations and Rock In Opposition reverence towards anything "normal." The album was reissued on CD in 1991 under the title "Konzert For A Broken Dance" with different artwork on the cover but reverted back to the original packaging and album title with the 2003 remastered edition with a bonus track.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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