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Sarlo Akrobata - Bistriji Ili Tuplji Covek Biva Kad... CD (album) cover


Sarlo Akrobata



4.23 | 30 ratings

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4 stars Belgrade-based SARLO AKROBATA (according to some sources, this name "Charles the Acrobat" was used in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia of the 1930s as a popular nickname for Charlie Chaplin) definitely deserves the status of a "cult" group of the former Yugoslav rock scene. Borne out of the post-punk musical and art revolution in the early 1980s and riding briefly on the ska-revival tide that helped them score several popular hits like "Ona se budi" and "Niko kao ja" topping the charts, they pursued more experimental direction on their one and only LP record.

"Brighter Or Dumber A Man Gets When?" (as the title of the album would roughly translate in English) did not meet initial success upon its release in summer 1981. It was too uncompromising, too non-commercial and it lacked strong hits that would attract general audience. Due to unbearable artistic differences between two main songwriters, Milan Mladenovic and Dusan Kojic "Koja", the band collapsed shortly after the release of this album, paving the way to the creation of two of the most creatively and commercially relevant bands that came from the so-called Belgrade Alternative Scene in the 1980s, DISCIPLINA KICME (later known under English spelling DISCIPLIN A KITSCHME) and EKATARINA VELIKA (ex-KATARINA II). "Bistriji ili tuplji?" thus became a staple for frequent re-discovery or review in the years to come, with every new generation of rock listeners in all post-Yugoslav societies finding something new, refreshing or inspiring in its grooves.

The album is not a flawless perfection, however. The production at times sounds sloppy and uneven (if you do not consider it as an element of a "deconstructive" avant-garde approach or simply a "punk" method) while several tracks are seemingly dumped into the track list only to fill the space. On the other hand, the record is filled with extremely powerful rock statements of intent.

The opening instrumental waltz-like 2/3 time signature "Sarlo je nezan" ("Charlie Is Gentle") builds upon the STRANGLERS' "Waltzinblack", introducing an original and abrasive bass playing by Koja he would pursue more methodically with his later DISCIPLINA KICME projects. The two-part composition "Pazite na decu" ("Take Care of Children") is connected with the album title and the inner sleeve design. The lyrics and graphic themes were taken from the 1879 book "Narodni ucitelj" ("The People's Teacher") by Vaso Pelagic, the 19th century writer, physician, cleric and politician, containing among other things tips and advices on how to treat different illnesses or how to take care of children, which at that time was a pioneering work of enlightenment amongst the poor and illiterate South-Slav population. Musically, these are cacophonous jam sessions where the band members exchange their instruments and with the help of several associates created an experimental maze of different sounds. Shortly before the recording sessions for this album, SARLO AKROBATA played live as a support to GANG OF FOUR and CLASSIX NOUVEAUX gigs in Zagreb, wherefrom they were allegedly influenced by the brutal rhythm attacks and chainsaw guitar bursts of the Andy Gill's company.

Perhaps the most controversial and the strongest moment of entire album came with the 7-minute "Ljubavna prica" ("Love Story"). According to Koja's interviews, this track was the reason why the executives of the Belgrade's PGP RTB record label dumped the band, which was later embraced by Jugoton in Zagreb. The story of a Yugoslav everyman being "in love" with his "Stojadin" car (brand name "Zastava 101") so that he diligently devotes his time to thoroughly wash it with a cloth dipped in tepid water with detergent was accompanied with amazing free-form music recorded from one take in studio, where Mladenovic demonstrates his guitar skills playing a sort of KING CRIMSON-like chord progression. A sheer brilliance of unconventional play and a middle finger showed to the pop-establishment, who expected more radio-friendly hits but got this in turn!

"O, o, o" and "Problem" present excellent attempts to do ska and reggae in a way little more creative than the numerous instant pop hits flooding the Yugoslav scene at that time. The latter track even contains interesting dub technique experiments that were probably among the first ones in the flourishing Yugoslav New Wave movement of 1981. Ivan Vdovic's drumming is breath-taking, showing also his jazz-inclined percussionist style.

"Sad se jasno vidi" ("Now It's Clearly Seen") and "Ja zelim jako" ("I Want Strongly") demonstrated Koja's minimalist graffiti-like lyrics with powerful statements that he would perfect with later DISCIPLINA KICME works.

I must admit I was never a fan of this album. It is difficult to listen and it requires more patience than I probably had in the past. But now in retrospect, it would be unjust to give anything less than 4 stars - extremely strong and brilliant 4 stars! "Take Care of Children, the Children Are Taking Care of You!"


Seyo | 4/5 |


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