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LAZA RISTOVSKI

Prog Related • Yugoslavia


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Laza Ristovski biography
Laza Ristovski was born in 1956 and his first band was BEZIMENI, where he played from 1970-74. As a young and talented keyboard player, during the 1970s and 1980s he played with two mega rock bands in former Yugoslavia - SMAK and BIJELO DUGME. He was a versatile studio session musician who also played with different artists, from popular folk orchestra to classical opera and jazz ensembles. He started solo career first as a duo with ex-BIJELO DUGME drummer Ipe IVANDIC, resulting in a typical symphonic prog style album "Stizemo" in 1978. Beginning in 1982 Ristovski embarked on a successful electronic keyboards virtuoso solo career, making instrumental albums with often contemporary, electronic versions of traditional songs. He also composed for TV, film and theatre, so one may compare him to VANGELIS. Ristovski collaborated with many internationally known artists, such as Alvin Lee (ex-TEN YEARS AFTER, ALVIN LEE BAND), Richard James Palmer (ex-SUPERTRAMP), Austrian pop icon Falco and Chris de Burgh. Unfortunatelly, due to severe illness Ristovski has been tied to a wheelchair for several years now, but he still continues to work and even participated in the reunion tour of BIJELO DUGME in 2005.

Music of Laza Ristovski is recommended to fans of electronic, keyboard synths and instrumental, light and melodic, ambient progressive rock.

by Sead S. Fetahagic



Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
The most celebrated electronic keyboard player in ex-Yugoslavian countries.



Discography:
Stizemo (with Ipe Ivandic) (studio, 1978)
Merge (studio, 1982)
2/3 (studio, 1983)
Vojnicki dani (studio, 1984)
Roses For A General (studio, 1984)
Opera (studio, 1986)
Quit (studio, 1993)
Naos (with Sasa Lokner) (studio, 1994)
Necista krv (soundtrack, 1997)
Svetlost u A-duru (Antologija) (compilation, 1997)
The Best Of Instrumental Works (compilation, 2000)
Platinum (compilation, 2000)
Gondola (studio, 2003)
Laza Ristovski Plays Simon & Garfunkel (studio, 2006)

Laza Ristovski official website

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LAZA RISTOVSKI discography


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

4.00 | 3 ratings
Merge
1982
3.10 | 2 ratings
2/3
1983
1.00 | 1 ratings
Vojnicki dani
1984
1.67 | 2 ratings
Roses For A General
1984
4.00 | 1 ratings
Nenad Jelic and Laza Ristovski: Opera
1986
2.00 | 1 ratings
Quit
1993
3.00 | 1 ratings
Laza Ristovski and Aleksandar Lokner: Naos
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
Necista krv - Muzika iz filma
1997
3.00 | 1 ratings
Gondola
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Laza Ristovski Plays Simon & Garfunkel
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Drvo zivota
2008

LAZA RISTOVSKI Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

LAZA RISTOVSKI Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

LAZA RISTOVSKI Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Svetlost u A-duru (Antologija)
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Of Instrumental Works
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
Platinum
2000

LAZA RISTOVSKI Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

LAZA RISTOVSKI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Quit by RISTOVSKI, LAZA album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Quit
Laza Ristovski Prog Related

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
2 stars After recording "Opera" album in late 1985, Ristovski re-joined his old friends BIJELO DUGME and remained their loyal keyboardist until their demise in 1989. Additionally, he worked as a sought-after session player for many different pop artists. In 1993 he came up with a cassette-only album titled "Quit".

Ristovski here covered several songs, mostly hits by Simon & Garfunkel, including one Mozart theme! Wait a minute! - synthesizer keyboards and "The Boxer"? Hmmm, will not do for me. These songs are fairly melodic and sweet sounding by themselves, making no big room for experiments. What you can do with them is to make them into a Muzak, and that's exactly what Ristovski did on "Quit". Ten times boring listen. Twenty times and at one point you will probably stop noticing it has been played at all. The only two songs worth hearing are "Over My Borntown" (what an English!) and "Lavori".

The former would re-surface on later CD albums as "Nebo nad Beogradom", while the idea of covering S&G repertoire would expand to the whole disc in 2006. This all gives me bad signs of lack of creativity and of making "sweet" instrumental music for "housewives".

PERSONAL RATING: 2/5

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 Nenad Jelic and Laza Ristovski: Opera by RISTOVSKI, LAZA album cover Studio Album, 1986
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Nenad Jelic and Laza Ristovski: Opera
Laza Ristovski Prog Related

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars "Opera" is arguably the best album recorded by Laza Ristovski, along with his debut "Merge". Unlike "Merge" however, it failed to chart commercially and was done as a collaborative effort with a renowned session musician/percussionist Nenad Jelic.

To be fair, Jelic is the leading composer/performer on this album. He played assorted percussion, harmonica, zither, piano and all vocal arrangements (no lyrics, vocals were electronically processed and used as instrument) and was a co-producer. Ristovski played his PPG synthesizers only, but used them in a way to add different sounds emulating flute, bass and even electric guitar.

At moments ("Sometimes at Nine") the music is close to avant-garde jazz and experimental ambient music such as that produced under the German ECM label or some solo works of David Sylvian ("In the Sky"). Other elements include certain Balkan traditional motifs ("Gitanes") heavily re-arranged to fit the percussion-filled ambient or even blues scheme ("Rumba Balcana"). This is very interesting album that pays back after several listening experiences.

PERSONAL RATING: 4,25/5

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 Laza Ristovski and Aleksandar Lokner: Naos by RISTOVSKI, LAZA album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Laza Ristovski and Aleksandar Lokner: Naos
Laza Ristovski Prog Related

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars "NAOS" is a collaborative album recorded by a duo of keyboard players - Laza Ristovski and Aleksandar Lokner (ex GALIJA). It builds upon already established Vangelisque sound of earlier Ristovski records and expands into a pleasant, non-aggressive soundtrack-like music. When we talk about electronic keyboards music, not everything fits into the picture and there are always excesses of synthesizer abuse. But here: a dark beat and a church choir-infiltrated sound of the title track (whose meaning describes a part of a Byzantine style church where liturgy takes place); a joyful melody and female vocals reminiscent of COCTAEU TWINS' ethereal sound in "Moravo" (Morava is a major river in Serbia proper); a jazzy piano and odd time signatures of "Par-nepar" (En. "Even-Odd"); and the closing spacey percussion-filled piece "Bulevar 1994" (En. "Boulevard 1994") can justify purchase of this disk if you are into this kind of laid-back instrumental music.

However, due to rather awful "Vatra" (En. "The Fire"), which terribly copies the ideas of BIJELO DUGME's "Padaju zvijezde" that was in itself a Yugoslav copycat of a cheesy VAN HALEN's arena-metal mid-80s hit "Jump", three stars is a maximum I can give to "NAOS".

PERSONAL RATING: 3/5

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 Roses For A General by RISTOVSKI, LAZA album cover Studio Album, 1984
1.67 | 2 ratings

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Roses For A General
Laza Ristovski Prog Related

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars This is one of those albums showing all the perils and misconceptions of technological development in the early 1980s popular music. Vast amount of programmed electronic keyboards and drum machines, following the mechanical patterns and all-too-predictable melodic arrangements, was the best evidence of music being sacrificed for the sake of sounding sweet, pleasant and non-aggressive - the music once you play it you never pay any attention to it.

The spirit of the art of music is lost while the whole package sounds like a plastic toy designed to enchant the juvenile synthesizer-freaks. Take the worst of Jean Michel Jarre's electronic pop tunes and add pretty awful drum machines and cheap melodies and you'll get "Roses for a General". But to be honest, this album is still better than the preceding hit-and-miss called "Vojnicki dani". At least, the Hispanic-themed "Figueras" and the bluesy, Hammond-spiced "Old Places" can be listened now and then. But, that is hardly enough...

PERSONAL RATING: 1,5/5

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 Vojnicki dani by RISTOVSKI, LAZA album cover Studio Album, 1984
1.00 | 1 ratings

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Vojnicki dani
Laza Ristovski Prog Related

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
1 stars Like all other fit young men in SFR Yugoslavia, Laza Ristovski had to serve the army too. Being a successful musician, whose "Merge" album had been amongst the best selling instrumental music records those years, he was destined to do the same privileged duty in the military. Nothing wrong with that. The Army needs musicians along with infantry.

Since the army in question was JNA, obvious part of the repertoire were patriot songs with revolutionary lyrics celebrating the WWII struggle of Yugoslav Partisans and their leader Tito. But Tito was already gone 4 years before this recording! No matter, He will always live - "and after Tito - there is Tito". The King is dead - long live the King!

So why not release an LP record of old Partisan songs (and some recent military marches as bonus) newly arranged and instrumentally improved with these awesome high-end synthesizer sounds instead of those old-fashioned boring choirs and symphonic orchestras? Yeah why not; and a nice title could be "The Military Days". And it was released indeed. Out of 8 tracks there is even one almost listenable - "Bilecanka"! Good job. It could have been worse. Are you sure? No, it could not have...

PERSONAL RATING: 0/5

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 Roses For A General by RISTOVSKI, LAZA album cover Studio Album, 1984
1.67 | 2 ratings

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Roses For A General
Laza Ristovski Prog Related

Review by Koper

1 stars Excuse me, please, I must to write this: this album is very weak, maybe the notion "horrible" would be better. It probably should not been located at ProgArchives because it is completely not "progressive", but it really is on the list of ProgRelated sub-genre. I used the word "horrible" but You should not imagine any kind of noise, thrash-metal bluster or cacophony. Each fan of Progressive rock in each fragment of this album can easy foresee which harmonic phrase will be played in three minutes. Each note on the album is strictly predictable, each one track is sweet, trite and superficial, to a some level it is similar to modern pop-songs, like e.g Hannah Montana. When You imagine a simplified and secondary version of Vangelis, Kitaro and especially Jean-Michele Jarre productions from their weakest periods (but I must defend Mr Laza Ristovski - "Roses for a general" was recorded in 1984), however without their mellodic inventory, then You can understand my emotions. It is pretty to listen to but only as ambient during shopping or during waiting for a plane. All tracks are composed by Laza Ristovski and played by him on a keyboard. All keybord-bass lines and programmed drum lines are as primitive as possible, melodies are unoriginal and impossible to remember. I have never heard any other Author's albums, but I am sure, that they are much better. One and half star.

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 Gondola by RISTOVSKI, LAZA album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Gondola
Laza Ristovski Prog Related

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars After almost 10 years since the previous studio album, Laza Ristovski was back on the scene with "Gondola". In the meantime, unfortunately, he suffered a severe illness due to which he has been tied to a wheelchair, restricting his activities almost entirely to work in his studio, one of the best in Serbia.

Ristovski makes instrumental, "ambient" music close to what is generally labelled "New Age" electronic music, related to the contemporary works of Vangelis or Jean-Michel Jarre. In an interview he states that he thinks of his music as being impressionist, the music of mood and reminiscent of the nature. Along with his usual assortment of keyboards (Hammond organ, Mini Moog, Oberheim OBXA, PPG, piano), drum machines and Macintosh G4 computer, Slavica Djordjevic effectively added background female vocals as another instrument. "Gondola" is perhaps his best-crafted studio work to date, with tracks following one another in a smooth, relaxing manner.

It is overall extremely light electronic music that sometimes approaches the Muzak territory ("Dragan", "Nebo nad Beogradom"). But in other moments, Ristovski makes extremely melodic, catchy and pleasant compositions, showing his instrumental virtuosity and adding jazz tones ("Lavirint" - probably the best track on the album, "Super Nova" - a sort of "crossover symphony") or traditional folk melodies ("Bit- ola" - cover of a Macedonian traditional actually referring to the town of Bitola in Macedonia) with appealing rhythmic structures. "Nebo nad Beogradom" ("The Skies Over Belgrade") and especially the wonderful closing title track "Gondola" contain what sounds like "electronic harp", thus making a reference to the late 1980s ambient works of Andreas Vollenweider, a Swiss magician of electric harp. "Vesela pesma" ("The Merry Melody") sounds very much like Vangelis' typical synthesiser soundscapes.

"Gondola" is an easy, laid-back album that can be listened to at any time. However, it is not your typical background music that serves only to ease and support your daily activities. It contains enough interesting instrumental and composing elements to be recommended not only to the electronic freaks but also to general prog audience. I am personally not a fan of this type of Electronica and would rate it maximum ***1/2 stars.

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 2/3 by RISTOVSKI, LAZA album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.10 | 2 ratings

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2/3
Laza Ristovski Prog Related

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Two Thirds" is the second Ristovski's album with which he tried to follow-up the commercial success of the debut "Merge".

Laza actually had an idea to record a live album, but due to poor technical results of live material, he opted for studio session instead. Only the last two tracks - "Rock 'n' Roll" and "Blues" survived from these concerts and they captured the strong audience response to Laza's keyboard acrobatics (at one moment a voice from the crowd is heard yelling "Laza, you're God!"). Despite the silly misnomer titles, both tracks contain a boogie 12-bar standard done on Hammond and assorted synthesizers. It is a decent and technically flawless Hammond organ performance but nothing very special for a connoisseur's ear.

The opener "Pulsing Star" continues the positive, light melodic Vangelis-meets-Jarre style from the previous album, and "Domina II" is a redo of the same title from the debut, with slightly deeper sound, like performed on a lower octave. The only progress on this album is found in the longest title track, which has dark overtones and drum machines similar to the works of Klaus Schulze. A funny electronic rhythm detail is heard in a simple, rather primitive high-pitched Casio synth toy-like rhythm program. Not that it particularly spoils the whole composition, but its absence would make the sound much better, for sure.

As a whole, "2/3" is somewhat weaker than conceptually much stronger "Merge". Two live tracks appear more like fillers than seriously composed pieces of music. On the other hand, this album is more diverse and it includes two excellent tracks, "Pulsing Star" and title track, so it is still closer to good 'ole 3 stars than 2.

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 Merge by RISTOVSKI, LAZA album cover Studio Album, 1982
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Merge
Laza Ristovski Prog Related

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The first solo album of Laza Ristovski (not counting his collaboration with Ipe Ivandic on "Stizemo" in 1978) hit the Yugoslavian market in 1982 and immediately gained huge popularity and commercial success. Not without a good reason - "Merge" is the first fully developed album of instrumental keyboard electronic music, done much in the vein of international popular acts like Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis or to some extent even Rick Wakeman. Thanks to that fact, you could hardly find a TV or radio station in former Yugoslavia in the period not airing "Behind the Horizon", "Shadow Dance" or "Domina", sometimes beating the above mentioned international superstars. "Kales bre Andjo" is on the other hand a synthesized cover of a traditional Macedonian folk song. If you like an accessible, melodic, electronic "background" music performed with technical skills and using a plethora of keyboards and synths, you should definitely get this nice album. However, more demanding fans of electronic music will probably survive without this one, on the premise of being too "light" or easy listening.

PERSONAL RATING: 3,75/5

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Thanks to seyo for the artist addition.

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