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BEGNAGRAD

RIO/Avant-Prog • Yugoslavia


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Begnagrad biography
Slovenian avant-garde band BEGNAGRAD was formed in Ljubljana (Slovenia, ex-Yugoslavia) in 1975, with following members: Bratko Bibič-accordion, vocal; Bogo Pečnikar-clarinet; Igor Musevič-drums and Vlado Spindler-bass. They recorded early material in 1977 at a Novi Sad radio station, but that was not released before 1992. This formation played an unconventional blend of jazz, rock, swing and European folk traditions, particularly mixing the Alpine, Mediterranean and Balkan influences. This line-up disbanded in 1978, just to be re-formed in 1981 with new members: Nino de Gleria-bass; Ales Rendla-drums, violin and Boris Romih-guitar, with Bibič and Pečnikar as old members. They finally recorded their first and only album "Begnagrad" in 1982. The band was short-lived and ceased to exist in 1983. B. Bibič continued a solo career along with participation with several groups like THE MADLEYS and NIMAL.

Their only studio album "Begnagrad" was internationally re-issued with some bonus tracks and it remained a highly preached among the avant-garde/prog afficionados. BEGNAGRAD shared many artistic approach with RIO movement and their frequent live gigs across Western Europe in early 1980s led a prominent RIO leader Chris CUTLER to claim "they were so good that they were really their own best promotion. ...RIO had ceased to exist by then, otherwise I'm sure Begnagrad would have been invited to join." They were often compared with such RIO acts like SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA or STORMY SIX.


Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
BEGNAGRAD is still celebrated as a unique avant-garde Slovenian band close to former RIO movement.


Discography:
"Begnagrad", studio album (1982)
"Tastare/Theoldwones", retrospective (1992)

Begnagrad official website

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BEGNAGRAD discography


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BEGNAGRAD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.77 | 22 ratings
Begnagrad
1982
2.95 | 2 ratings
Jodlovska Urska
1990
3.87 | 4 ratings
Tastare (Theoldwones)
1992

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BEGNAGRAD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Begnagrad by BEGNAGRAD album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.77 | 22 ratings

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Begnagrad
Begnagrad RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars Begnagrad takes on the world from a now defunkt country.

The "Balkan folk" was very popular in the 1980s and my only insight to the music scene in this now defunkt country Jugoslavia. I also believe there was a very vibrant jazz scene there once...... and still is in the countries which once was Jugoslavia.

Anyway....

Begnagrad serves up a dish which is somewhere inbetween folk, jazz, avant-garde and in particular; the Canterbury scene. Maybe they are a bit too avant-garde and RIO to being Canterbury, but as a Canterbury fan; their music resonates a lot with me.

The music is based on various acoustic, slightly weird instruments. Mandolin, whistling, harmonica and other exotic instruments. Mainstream, they are not.

Quality and personal opinions........... Yes, I really like this album. Begnagrad had some really interesting approach to this stuff. Their music can be both introspective and open minded the next minute. This album is not everyone's taste. But it has style and it should really appeal to anyone who likes Afenginn, Aranis and other acoustic instrument based RIO bands. My only gripe is the lack of some truly great tunes here, but that's my only gripe. A good album it is.

3 stars

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 Jodlovska Urska by BEGNAGRAD album cover Studio Album, 1990
2.95 | 2 ratings

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Jodlovska Urska
Begnagrad RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Real debut album's material, recorded still in 1977 in Vojvodina, but for the first (and it looks only) time released in 1990, still in Yugoslavia, on audio cassette. Main problem is sound quality, which is below any standard.

Band's music is instrumental mix of acoustic jazz and Balkan folklore, but with added "urban folk" and humor element. Or (with some restrictions) parallel with RIO could be drawn as well.

Differently from some other ex-Yugoslavian bands, mixing Balkan folk in their jazz (fusion) music, Begnagrad doesn't sound as real jazz or fusion band at all. From other hand, even if Balkan folk element presented almost in every band's sound, musicians use very "Slovenian" version of this sound - without accent on emotion explosiveness and Gypsy-like dancelike side, but more as refined folk element for their jazzy urban mix. At the same time some other folksy elements are presented (as Alpine and Mediterranean tunes).

In whole album sound as quite safe fusion of Balkan/jazz fusion and some RIO moments. Unhappily, really bad sound quality destroys possible positive emotions when listening.

Still 3 from me.

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 Begnagrad by BEGNAGRAD album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.77 | 22 ratings

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Begnagrad
Begnagrad RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars A mainly acoustic Slovenian quintet that released three albums during the 80's and early 90's, and I'm about to review the first in its French AYAA label reissue with different sequencing of tracks and two bonus (let's one biggie and an intro) and vastly different artwork (borrowing more to their third and last release) that was released in 92. Keyboardist & accordionist and leader Bibic writes the majority of the group's music, a gentle jazz-Manouche with Klezmer touches, while guitarist Romih writes the rest, but in a similar vein. Other instruments are violin, congas, ocarina, melodica, both acoustic & electric guitars & bass, whistling and happy vocals that distil some humour throughout the album. Musically speaking we are hovering between Von Zamla and a happy Univers Zero and Begnagrad precedes many other groups that will indulge into this kind of soundscapes. Thankfully for me, the accordion is not as present as I first feared when I rented this album from the library as the clarinet seems to be main lead instrument. The more bizarre track must be Zvisgovska (Whistling Ursulla) where the music Most (if not all) of the members are multi- instrumentalist, which allows for a good variety and avoid too much repetition in a genre that has since been over-flogged to death. Listening to the whole album in one shot might prove a bit too much for some, but if you're into a bit of burlesque humour (ala Von Zappa) into a sometimes improvised eastern folk/jazz (the great bonus track, unfortunately finishing in a jig) that allows for some fine interplay between the five.

Difficult to call this a pop/rock album, with its eastern folk/jazz, but the happy feel that pervades through the music would make it pop(ular) in its own right. If you already have a few album in the Gypsy Jazz/Klezmer/Eastern Folk realm, Begnagrad might not be essential or even a must- own?. But if you're just discovering the style of music, this could be a must-have, but that's really up to you.

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 Begnagrad by BEGNAGRAD album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.77 | 22 ratings

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Begnagrad
Begnagrad RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by jerryverrier

3 stars Begnagrad: Konzert For a Broken Dance 1982 1. Romanticna, the Romantic One. The music opens with accordion , clarinet and a bass drone, making an elegant slow statement. Dramatic changes of pace reveal this to be programme music, illustrating a story the details of which are suggested through the shifting phrases, although the voicings are maintained. The story then becomes a sequence of evoked moods, melancholy, bawdy etc. Some fine virtuoso clarinet playing over a bass accordion ground towards the end with a freer jazzy coda. 2. Pjanska, The Drinking One. This begins as a jolly folk dance in compound time, but the lead instruments do not play the traditional melody, they shift around it before the whole thing re-invents itself as a jazzy race over staccato accordion which in turn gives way to a Gong-like tavern scene of late night inarticulate song and triumphant clarinet ending. 3. Bo Ze Ce Bo Alles Wird Gut Vieleicht. Lovely folk opening on a mandolin type instrument with the accordion, and splendid acoustic bass with clarinet. One of the finest folk melodies I know, followed by a vicious throaty sax over frantically bowed bass. This is theatrical music! The story continues in the bass after some gasping and gurgling. Folk violin joins and I am thinking of Kandinsky's early abstractions based on figurative scenes. There is a huge narrative element here which only Mike Oldfield in Tubular Bells and such brought to mainstream prog. 4. Cosa Nostra Waltz. It's a waltz with a solid trad accordion and clarinet sound, but the work on drums and (particularly) bass are jazz and outstanding. Someone was listening to Jaco Pastorius and they had huge technique. Other reviewers have singled out this track, and quite rightly; the musicianship is electric and never fails to delight. With extraordinary the whole thing pares itself down to a few light sounds in the middle before a rock bass sound encourages the trad musicians to insist on the melody. In Ireland, Moving Hearts tried for this kind of thing but without this freedom. Coincidentally the final word goes to the jaw-harp, which was used playing a reel as the close music on the Irish language radio station for many years in the 90's. 5. Narodna Kmetska Knecht ska . The most experimental track so far as the instruments exercise themselves over a ticking compound time. Great percussion leading throughout. It is easy to see Begnagrad as an accordion led band, but the drummer, Igor Musevič, is equally important. This is a standout track and positions the music firmly in RIO territory. 6. Cocn Rolla. First taste of electric guitar and it's mighty. Flying clarinet phrases echoed by guitar and then chordal vamping on accordion and Fripp-like work on guitar, all underpinned by outstanding drum and bass. Sudden folk phrases with tight rhythmic exchanges between the voices leads to an elegiac guitar based series of chords on horns and accordion, very reminiscent of Henry Cow's first album. Drums take it to the close. A brilliant track. 7. Zviggovska Whistling Ursula. It is melodic and rural, sounding almost like South African township music. The bass playing is outstanding again (Vlado Spindler). 8. Joj Di Di Joj. A real Gong-like moment. A voice, a feeling and a clarinet to echo it. 25 mad seconds. 9. Tazadnatanove, The Last New One. Starts like jazz. A big theme and great playing on sax and electric bass. These two alone should have several ECM albums to their names. And the prog feel grows as they let the accordion in and there's echoplex effects to give a feel of minimalism at thensame time as the big rock drumming gets going. This track is a standout for all Canterbury fans, and a superb end to a brilliant album. In summary, this is an extraordinary album featuring some wonderful playing, particularly by the bassist, Vlado Spindler. The attempt to move folk melodies and instrumentation into a new sphere is brave and works as well as it did in Ireland with Moving Hearts, but here it produces much more interesting music. Folk enthusiasts might begin with the first three tracks, proggers start at track 4. Thanks to Steve Davis of Phoenix FM and Ronan Griffin for leading me to this album.

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 Begnagrad by BEGNAGRAD album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.77 | 22 ratings

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Begnagrad
Begnagrad RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Joćo Paulo

4 stars Nice album for this RIO yougoslavian band. The replete rhythm of improvisations made this work quite unique and with very good quality. The sound of accordion makes environment a little progfolk but bass work, that is very good, made the arrangements with a balanced context in RIO and creates a good album. All times that we heard this album, we hear sounds and new chords and I like very much this discovery, because we gorge ourselves ever we do not even find flat. Very nice album to RIO fans and quite good work made by a East country. Very intensive album with a very melodic parts and other's with a strong and fast arrangements. 4 star's for this work and very good for any RIO collection.

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 Begnagrad by BEGNAGRAD album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.77 | 22 ratings

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Begnagrad
Begnagrad RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars This record was recommended to me by a friend who knows my penchant for unusual folk music. I had misgivings since this is really considered an RIO band, but those were abandoned pretty quickly the first time I listened to the CD.

Begnagrad were a Slovenian band who start off with ethnic instrumentation and a world-music vibe, but within a few seconds on the first track it’s apparent the band had an awful lot of musical influences. The liner note listings of accordion, clarinet and mandolin might fool you into thinking this is a series of polkas and waltzes (“Cosa Nostra” for example, which sort of is a waltz). And I suppose there might be something in some of the arrangements that fit that description. But there’s also jazz here (albeit pretty free-form and neurotic), but also Balkan folk and occasionally the makings of some ethnic punk. Samla Mammas Manna comes immediately to mind, but I have to admit that’s partly because I don’t know too many other RIO bands.

One thing that’s surprising for someone like me who isn’t into avant-garde, experimental music like this is how approachable it actually is. There is a ton of discord in the music, but also plenty of melodic moments that sort of bind each disjointed track into something that makes a little bit of sense, even to the uninitiated.

Other than “Cosa Nostra” the tracks are pretty short, but considering the high-intensity tempo I suppose the band members couldn’t keep things going too long without losing their audience, so regular breaks between tracks seems like a good idea.

For a folk and world-music fan the wealth of instrumentation is fascinating. Besides the ones mentioned above there are a number of string basses employed, plus the stilting keys of a clavier, the Star Trek phaser-looking ocarina, and more percussion and wind toys then you can shake a stick at.

Like I said, this thing is high intensity, with driving melodies accentuated almost non-stop by the various ethnic instruments. There are no vocals, but some of the music comes from shouts, whistles and other mouthed sounds. Check out just the opening “Pjan ska” for a full menu of the dozens of sounds employed here. The slower numbers (well, just “Romantična” really) sound more like county-fair folk but played by guys who are trying to amuse themselves instead of the audience. This is bawdy and fun music that defies detailed description, unless perhaps if you are a musician from that part of the world who has some insight into how and why the stuff was made.

Me, I’m a folk music fan and not a musician. But I know what I like, and this is one fun hour of music. Four stars and an uninformed but hearty recommendation.

peace

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 Begnagrad by BEGNAGRAD album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.77 | 22 ratings

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Begnagrad
Begnagrad RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by clarke2001
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars One of the most powerful Slovenian bands ever. It's somewhere between works of AREA and DUN (and that's really something) + strongly emphasized aspect of East European folk music. It's dominated by woodwind and accordion with occasional, weird guitar moments.

It's great. The catchy aspect of the band is utilized with gorgeous Balkan/Gypsy melodies, the same ones that are providing a great base for rhythmical experimental experiments, and that are easy to mutilate into cacophony just after a few bars. Harmonies are unbelievable, bold, unusual but very logical. The cacophonic parts - shouts, noises, structure-less parts are working fine within the whole story, they're just a bit too much for my taste, hence not the five star rating. But it might grow on me even more. Surely, this album is very rewarding: for the RIO fans, for world music fans, jazz fans and fans of clever, elaborated music in general. It's out of time and space, not inclining towards any trends, and it's certainly not progressive music for the sake of it. It's one of those records that came out of nowhere and re-invented music. If you are serious music lover, get it if you can find it.

Four and a half stars...so far.

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 Tastare (Theoldwones) by BEGNAGRAD album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.87 | 4 ratings

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Tastare (Theoldwones)
Begnagrad RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Shortly after foundation, BEGNAGRAD started composing their own songs and spent some time recording in Ljubljana's Radio Student studio in 1976. In this period the band consisted of Bogo Pecnikar-clarinet, Bratko Bibic-accordion, Vlado Spindler-bass and Igor Musevic-drums. Pecnikar recalls these moments in an interview*: "So we made our first Begnagrad recordings there, in the studio which was normally used by the speaker. It was completely small. Like our kitchen. Plus having the speaker's table nonremovable, in the middle! So we were all arranged around this table there. It was very funny."

A few recordings from that very session were included in this album ("The Old Ones" in English), which is a collection of archival and previously unreleased compositions from the early career, including "Unisolo". "This clarinet solo, if I can talk about it, it's another curiosity ­ it's like an echo, and the echo was made, not with a special echo machine, but with another tape recorder, a normal one, with the endless tape - you just put a lap of tape which just goes round and round. And what was funny was that this recorder was the one that was normally used to make documentary recordings of everything, that the state required them to have for the archives for a certain amount of time, in case they did something unpopular or politically incorrect." - explains Pecnikar.

The bulk of the material, however, was recorded during Radio Novi Sad sessions in December 1977, which were technically and musically better recorded. Less commercial bands from all over ex-Yugoslavia at that time were invited to record there because the editor (Vitomir Simurdic and his associates) was very open to experimentation and offered young groups to make their first demos. Even the now legendary BULDOZER recorded their psyche/avant rock masterpiece "Zabranjeno plakatirati" in this studio in Novi Sad (Northern Serbia of today) in 1976.

"So we were invited there for a week or so in December '77 with hotel and everything paid to make the recordings for an LP. After three days they were satisfied. When everything was done, we never entered the studio again. Even for mixing. So they did the mix by themselves, and since it was only a four-channel recording at that time, and the original tapes were lost, that's the mix that was left. They added a sleazy reverb on it all, like coming from a distant bathroom. We would have done it another way, done some additional playing and recording, but we never did." - says Pecnikar.

These tapes were never released as a record, until 1992. The bass player Spindler financed its release, so these recordings combined with a few earlier takes were released on CD as "Tastare (Theoldwones)". Shortly after these studio sessions, Begnagrad had their farewell concert in the cinema "Sloga" in Ljubljana and the track "Tazadna tanova" was recorded live at this venue. Since the bassist had to serve the Army, the band split after unsuccessful attempts to find his replacement.

The music of BEGNAGRAD from this period is a unique amalgam of Alpine and Balkan folk, swing, free jazz, polka, waltz and rock, arranged and performed with a strong experimental and RIO approach. Drums and electric bass provide a strong rock and sometimes jazz rhythm section, while accordion and especially clarinet provide melody lines and chords, sometimes each instrument independently, sometimes in unison. It is full of energy and beat but you can hardly dance to it! Outstanding tracks from this collection are "Uspavanka za Juvana", an excellent jazz beat and bass with intoxicating and slightly psychedelic clarinet solo (there are some twisted hints at the future TUXEDOMOON avant-garde moments mostly due to clarinet and bass), "Jara kaca" another lengthy jazz rock with bass and drums solo improvising, and above mentioned "Tazadna tanova" with crazy mix of psyche jazz and folk dance. The introductory "Begnagrad" and "Kranjskagorablues nazaj" are vivid pieces with folk melodies and polka rhythms performed with a jazz attitude.

Although this is instrumental music, humour is frequently present, even in track titles. Most of them are twisted Slovene words, while "Rismih Boro", which contains a popular Serbian folk dance excerpt ("Zikino kolo"), is actually an anagram of the name Boris Romih, the latter-day BEGNAGRAD member who played guitar on their acclaimed debut LP in 1982!

"We've been developing our music with a more jazz-oriented approach with lots of improvisation combined with complex structured compositions -­ a characteristic of so-called RIO (Rock In Opposition) bands of the time." - concludes Pecnikar.

Although at times you may find this music too hard or demanding to listen to, I can freely pronounce this rare title a specialty for connoisseurs of unconventional music who are more than advised to add "Tastare" to their precious collection.

*interview taken from www.beat-a-go-go.com/story/2006/5/18/21142/5697

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 Begnagrad by BEGNAGRAD album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.77 | 22 ratings

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Begnagrad
Begnagrad RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars After a brief period of inactivity in late 1970s, BEGNAGRAD re-formed in 1981. Two founding members, accordionist Bratko Bibic and clarinetist Bogo Pecnikar, invited three younger musicians to join, so the end-result, their eponymous debut album, sounded with more rock energy while retaining their Slovenian avant-folk and RIO roots. "We hear a relationship to the music of other earlier RIO bands - Stormy Six, Samla Mammas Manna, and others ­ that were also informed by the European folk music."* This is a totally wild and unpredictable album with freaky experimental music featuring odd traditional instruments (accordion, clarinet, double bass, violin, strange percussion, whistling), that were played with avant-garde or jazz attitude. There are no lyrics but the vocals are used as instruments in some instances, and often sounding quite humorous and funny. "Bratko's accordion, Bogo's clarinet, the rhythmic and melodic structure of the tunes are underscored by more electric instrumentation and a firm rhythmic structure borrowing from rock music that lends the recording a curious mixture of chaotic atmosphere, surprise, melancholy, and central, south and eastern European folk musical traditions. The music has strong melodies, contrasts of harmonic and discordant structures and dramatic changes in rhythms and time structures."* It is hard to single out some tracks because the whole album is a pretty cohesive effort with excellent production throughout, but my favourites would be "Cosa Nostra/Waltz" and "Coc'n'Rolla (Ljubljana ponoci)", two of the craziest moments on the album. The freaks responsible for creating this jolly and amazing patchwork of Slovenian RIO were: Bratko Bibic/ accordions, melodica, Faninger Klavier, voice, Bogo Pecnikar/ clarinet, sogra, baritone sax, ocarina, whistling, voice, Nino de Gleria/ electric bass, double bass, mandolin, whistling, screaming, Ales Rendla/ drums, violin, conga and Boris Romih/ percussion, tiny instruments, guitar, whistling, voice, double bass. "Begnagrad" was originally released by "Zalozba kaset in plosc RTV Ljubljana", September 1982 (RTV LD 0811) with this white cover sleeve. In 1990, AYAA label reissued the album on CD (cdt 1180) with a different cover sleeve, titled "Konzert for a Broken Dance" - two tracks were reordered, and a bonus track included. Finally, 2nd CD reissue of "Begnagrad", under original title and cover, was done by MIO Records (Israel), MIO 006, November 2003 with extra live audio + 20' video bonus tracks from 1983). This album is highly recommended to listen and if you are a RIO enthusiast, then it is a must for your collection.

*source: http://www.beat-a-go-go.com/begnagrad.html

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 Begnagrad by BEGNAGRAD album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.77 | 22 ratings

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Begnagrad
Begnagrad RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Rainer Rein

3 stars Begnagrad was avant-folk band from Ljubljana led by accordionist Bratko Bibič. We have the greatest pleasure to listen for example alpine, yugoslavian, hungarian, italian folklore in symbiosis with rock, jazz, punk, avantgarde, joke etc. The music in this record is at-full- gallop-rushing and well played, kicking sometimes over the traces. Maybe there is a bit relationship with Lars Hollmer and Samla Mammas Manna from Sweden. Anyway - joyful and gamesome (3,5 stars really).

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