Lots of press for this show. Here is a lengthy interview from the major Belgrade daily newspaper.
And here is a review of the concert from the same newspaper. This is really a very nice review. Here is a rough translation of the final paragraph:
Sooner or Later” is an extremely painful piece based on Bob Ostertag’s personal experience during his years of full-time Central America activism in the 1980s, especially in El Salvador. The music is made from a recording of a typical episode from the reality of El Salvador at that time. A father was shot by a government soldier and his little son is weeping from his deepest soul for him. We hear the boy, the shovel digging the grave, and the fly buzzing around carelessly, totally unaware of the whole drama. These three sources of sound emerge from Bob’s small electronic apparatus, in a series of scenes interrupted by breaths of silence. At the beginning, we are aware of each of these characters represented by sound, as if we could times we could see them right in front of us. But, step by step, this soundscape is veering away from our original perspective. Constellations are changing. We witness the rhythm of a milestone of life. The cries of the boy and the crumbling of soil are grinding the reality into molasses of such thickness that we start to feel the true panic. You nearly suffocate in this vibrant syrup of pure sorrow. But suddenly you emerge into a polyphony worthy of some politically minded electronic Bach. Out of the blue there is an oratorio of voices and instruments of nature, an utensil with a sharp aim at work, the real symphony of psalms lifted towards disbelief, in which the sound is flaming up to the cataclysm of Judgment Day, Ragnarok itself. But then again, a new peace elicited from organs of tranquility bring the vibration of a huge hope for everyone, to make discords of the soul one more time to break the continents and heavens and finally stir up the spirits of the past like grand bells. Very, very spiritual. We are stunned. – Zorica Kojić for Danas daily, Belgrade, Serbia
There were workshops on hacking and coding, concerts, lectures, on and on. As with most of these sorts of things I have been at, I was skeptical of how much was actually learned in these short classes. Though the idea of empowering people in the digital age by teaching them to code, at the end of the day coding is something that takes time to learn. Not sure there are shortcuts.
But enough of this festival had some substance to make the experience a pleasant one. I did a concert and an on-stage interview with public Q&A with festival director Dragan Ambrozic, a lovely man and a fierce and intelligent promoter of music.
Senwaya is a Indonesian duo, from Java, who play something like punk rock on homemade instruments that are close to traditional Javanese instruments. Very DIY. Wow. I hope to see them in Indonesia in the fall.
Bill Drummond was a British punk/pop icon in the 1980s who famously put a million British pounds of his royalties in a big pile and set it on fire. Also used 40,000 pounds of his royalites to give out a Worst Artist of the Year award. Quite the character. I asked why he burned all the money and he replied he could not tell me, because he and his musical partner are in the 23rd year of a 27-year moratorium on discussing the matter. He did admit that now that his seven kids it was hard to explain to them why he couldn’t have just given the money to them…
The last time I was in Belgrade was nearly twenty years ago, immediately after the civil wars that accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia and the NATO bombing of Belgrade. Slobodan Milošević was still in power. There were marches against him every night, which ended at the club I played at back then. marches is now dead, died in his cell during his trial for crimes against humanity in The Hague. Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić will spend the rest of their lives in cells there. Twenty years ago those criminals had an absolute lock on political power in Serbia. If they came back today and tried to spread their hatred no one way pay them any attention. Crazy world we live in.