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Prog Folk • Macedonia

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Vlatko Stefanovski picture
Vlatko Stefanovski biography
Vlatko Stefanovski was born in 1957 in Prilep, Macedonia in a theatrical family (his brother Goran is a playright). He started playing guitar at the age of 13. In his late teens he formed the group LEB I SOL. It became one of the biggest names in the ex-YU music scene. The band played a particular style of fusion music, a blend of Macedonian traditional irregular rhythms and contemporary rock.

Recently Stefanovski has developed a very succesful solo career. His first solo release "Cowboys and Indians" (1994) showcased his various interests, from deep ethno roots to ambiental moods and classic blues.

The second CD "Sarajevo" (1996) was a benefit project for the UNICEF Fund for Children in Need. In May 1996 Vlatko formed his electric trio and released their first CD for Third Ear Music in December 1998. In 1997 Vlatko wrote the score for the motion picture "Gypsy Magic" directed by Stole Popov, which was released as a soundtrack CD under the same name.

He also made the music for the Turkish film "Journey to the Sun" directed by Yesim Ustaoglu, which won two awards at Berlin Film Festival in 1999. 1998 saw the release of the album "Krushevo" on which Vlatko collaborated with the well known Bosnian-born guitarist Miroslav Tadic. CD was released for MA Recordings, an audiophile USA/Japanese record label. Vlatko and Miroslav promoted the album with three concerts at the HI-FI '98 fair in Los Angeles and at Skopje Jazz Festival '98. Vlatko played at 2nd Sarajevo Jazz Fest 1998 with his Trio and at 5th Sarajevo Jazz Fest 2001 with Miroslav Tadic.

In 1999 they played the Sava Centar Hall in Belgrade and recorded their "Live in Belgrade" CD which came out in March 2000. In the last couple of years he has also played and recorded in France with the group "Koreni" formed by the pianist Bojan Zulfikarpasic. He is also a member of the group BALKAN HORSES BAND, with some other great musicians from seven Balkan countries.
Vlatko appears as a special guest at Gibonni's (Croatian pop superstar) last three albums and big concerts, together with some world class musicians like Manu Katche, Pino PALLADINO and Tony LEVIN, among others. Stefanovski's recent work also includes music for films, theatre and ballet.

Stefanovski is well-known for his incredible guitar technique. He creates rich soundsc...
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VLATKO STEFANOVSKI top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 3 ratings
Zodiac (with Bodan Arsovski)
4.00 | 2 ratings
Cowboys & Indians
5.00 | 1 ratings
4.33 | 3 ratings
Gipsy Magic (OST)
4.00 | 1 ratings
3 Summer Days (OST)
4.81 | 7 ratings
Krushevo (with Miroslav Tadic)
4.00 | 5 ratings
Vlatko Stefanovski Trio
2.00 | 2 ratings
Kula Od Karti
4.40 | 5 ratings
Treta Majka (with Miroslav Tadic)
3.75 | 4 ratings
Thunder from the Blue Sky (with Jan Akkerman and Damir Imeri)

VLATKO STEFANOVSKI Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 2 ratings
Live In Belgrade (with Miroslav Tadic)


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

4.09 | 2 ratings
Kino Kultura

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


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Kula Od Karti by STEFANOVSKI, VLATKO album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.00 | 2 ratings

Kula Od Karti
Vlatko Stefanovski Prog Folk

Review by 1967/ 1976

2 stars Hmmm... I do not think that this CD please me. First because the music is not Prog. Second because modern. But if I am sincere this CD is important in my discography because it is a Vlatko Stefanovski's CD with Manu Katche (drums) and Gibonni (vocals). However, this does not mean that 'Kula Od Karti' succeed enjoyed me. But rather because 'Kula Od Karti' is very modern and, I believe, POP.

Sure 'Kula Od Karti' contain very good songs: 'Pesna za prijatelot', 'Nostalgija', 'California', 'Daydream' and 'Goodbye George'. But this fact does not change slightly my opinion.

Yet this CD in the car becomes very interesting. This because the songs are written in a good manner.

This 'Kula Od Karti' transmit me and this is my point of view about 'Kula Od Karti'.

 Kino Kultura by STEFANOVSKI, VLATKO album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2001
4.09 | 2 ratings

Kino Kultura
Vlatko Stefanovski Prog Folk

Review by 1967/ 1976

4 stars This compilation is the best of Vlatko Stefanovski OST for these films: 'Suicide Guide', 'Gypsy Magic', '3 Letnja Dana (Three Summer Days)', 'Journey To The Sun' and 'Skyhook (Nebeska Udica)' (all these films are unknown by me).

The style is various, also if the Folk component (Balkan Folk) is not always recognizable at first listening, is clear that 'Kino Kultura' is an album without POP songs. For a correct view, without knowledge the films, it is difficult to judge the songs. In this sense some songs seems not good but only because functional as soundtrack and this fact penalize a proper understanding.

But believe me: in a certain sense these songs are not simple. In fact the construction of these songs is extreme close to Jazz, also if I speak of composing manner because the style is not Jazz. If you know the style of Goran Bregovic's OST you note that Stefanovski's OST are more dark, reflective and... Untidy. In general if Bregovic is the day, Stefanovski is the night. And this is not only cause because the films are from different genres. Certainly the level is the same: too high.

My view of 'Kino Kultura' is also my consideration of 'Kino Kultura': a great example of World Music, extremely Prog but not Prog.

(P.s.: Probably if I speak of a definition of modern Prog Stefanovski is a good example).

 Krushevo (with Miroslav Tadic) by STEFANOVSKI, VLATKO album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.81 | 7 ratings

Krushevo (with Miroslav Tadic)
Vlatko Stefanovski Prog Folk

Review by clarke2001
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars This is the first album in series with Vlatko's collaboration with classically-trained guitarist Miroslav Tadic. Collaboration (and album itself) was (and still is) a huge success in countries of former Yugoslavia (and not only there), partly because of Stefanovski's comeback to the musical scene, and partly because collaboration of these two skilled guitarist turned out to be a perfect amalgam of something completely new on world-music scene.

It's absolutely unnecessary to describe Stefanovski's astonishing guitar technique(s) because thousands of pages of reviews worldwide described him (with lots of "oohs" and "aahs") already as extraordinary virtuoso, but the name of Miroslav Tadic is the new boy in progressive rock town. He is an extraordinary technician as well, and it's really difficult to imagine any other world-class guitarist that will fit in the picture better. Tadic proved he is the perfect man for making gorgeous tapestries among Stefanovski's expressive solos. He (Tadic) is one of those rare musicians who is capable to create lovely, dreamy, floating (but not "new-agey" and dull) backgrounds using unusual chords and chord progressions without sounding "avant-guarde" or "dissonant".

To be very honest, this album is got almost nothing to do with progressive rock. Why? It's without any doubt progressive (and "progressive" if you want) but you will find "rock" (in widest possible context of that term) only in traces. Okay, Stefanovski occasionally uses E-bow on his dobro (He's plays classical, acoustic C&W and dobro guitars) and you may spot few blues-like string bendings, but that's about it.

So what's going on inside the sleeve?

Well, all the compositions are instrumentals, guitar duets. No sign of percussions (except for the guitars themselves), no sign of keyboards, bass or any other instrument from the rock heritage. Just loads of reverberation.

All the tracks are old Macedonian folk songs, just adopted by the duet. To understand why is this album considered progressive, and not the sheer world-music piece, you must know that Macedonian folk music itself is almost prog. It's full of irregular time signatures and strange shifts in tempo. Time measures such are 5/8, 7/8, 9/8, 5/4, 11/8 and even 13/8 are not unusual, and Stefanovski-Tadic interpretations hitted the bull's eye.

One must know that this album is not just an exhibition of an ultra-fast outstanding technique, it is technicians delight though, but emotions are the strongest aspect of this fine work.

Performances are soulful and passionate. However, I focused this review more on technical and theoretical side of playing simply because if someone tries to describe the passion, world will fail him.

I'm giving five stars to "Krushevo" for two reasons:

1) Because it IS a masterpiece, 2) and I think this will became a new chapter in music history. Time will tell.

 Vlatko Stefanovski Trio by STEFANOVSKI, VLATKO album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.00 | 5 ratings

Vlatko Stefanovski Trio
Vlatko Stefanovski Prog Folk

Review by clarke2001
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Vlatko Stefanovski, excellent Macedonian guitarist of LEB I SOL fame, started with his solo career before LEB I SOL disbanded, but this is the first album of his VLATKO STEFANOVSKI TRIO and logical continuation of LEB I SOL's work.

The alum is -of course- guitar-oriented, extraordinary combination of hard-rock, fusion and Macedonian folk music. Production is excellent, although a bit too "modern" for my taste.

Along with standard acoustic and electric guitars, Vlatko is playing a MIDI guitar, triggering sounds from the Roland's sampling unit, so all the flutes, Hammond organs and ambiental pads that you can hear are actually crafted with Vlatko's fingers and his guitar. But don't worry, there is no exaggeration, all the sounds are tastefully dosed.

The album is opened with "Igri Bez Granici" (Games Without Frontiers), excellent contemporary rock utilising almost rap vocals (don't run away!) about political changes and general changes in nation's consciousness after the Yugoslav wars.

The following "Kalajdzisko oro" (oro is a type of Macedonian dance with very complex rhythmical structures) is a usual concert-opener since his LEB I SOL days, and pretty much in their style. Vlatko's technique is brilliant. One more proof that he is world class guitar player. B y the way, tune is in 11/8.

The third track "U.F.O." is humorous instrumental, reaction on work of artists like VAI, SATRIANI, MALMSTEEN and the like.

"Vlatkovo oro" (Vlatko's Oro) is another instrumental with lovely, expressive solo, while "Gluvo Doba" is catchy mainstream pop-rock, (obviously influenced with Croatian mainstream pop-star Gibonni, to whom Vlatko is collaborating with) but extraordinarily well played. In 7/8 :)

The next three songs ("7/8 Oro", "Urban-Kurban" and "Ne Si Go Prodavaj Koljo...") are excellent instrumentals with nice solos and interesting use of dissonant harmonies. "Thailand" is another instrumental, much slower and with meditative atmosphere. Lovely. "Pustelija" is closing the album, a hard rock tune with excellent social message.

By the way, all the songs were sung in Macedonian. Why am I mentioning this? Because all of the LEB I SOL lyrics were written in Serbian (occasionally Croatian) to attract wider audience of the former Yugoslavia. (You can find similar cases with Slovenian bands, BULDOZER, for example).

Sorry I didn't translate all the track's titles, my Macedonian is not that good.

Conclusion: excellent album, perhaps missing the diversity of first LEB I SOL albums, but diverse enough from guitarist's point of view and luckily he's not delving too deep into pointless guitar solos; he's brief and effective.

If you are guitar-oriented progger (Allan HOLDSWORTH is all-times Vlatko's guru) this is well worth giving it a try.

Thanks to seyo for the artist addition.

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