Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Pop Mašina “Na Izvoru Svetlosti” 1975 Yugoslavia Heavy Prog


Pop Mašina “Na Izvoru Svetlosti” 1975 Yugoslavia Heavy Prog
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After not-so-good experience with PGP RTB label from the time of their debut recording sessions and having built reputation as an attractive live rock act involving heavy rock pyrotechnics (amplified sound, guitar solo acrobatics, screaming, instrument breaking…) and lengthy improvisational jams at free open air concerts (the most notable being “Hajducka cesma” near Belgrade) in the vein of GRATEFUL DEAD, POP MASINA signed with another label - RTV Ljubljana, Slovenia - for their sophomore studio album. 
“Akademik” studio in Ljubljana was one of the best in Yugoslavia in the mid-seventies. In an interview given for “Dzuboks” magazine in early 1975, Robert Nemecek sounded amazed about the “unlimited capabilities of studio technology with awesome 12-track recording equipment”. The album was recorded for 25 studio hours within 4 days. All this may sound naive and funny for anyone acquainted with music production and business in the West but it was a genuine, unique opportunity for a rock band in Yugoslavia under the circumstances. Given all these conditions, “Na izvoru svetlosti” (“At the Source of Light”) should have represented a perfect rock album - a blue-print of what other Yugoslav bands should follow and a true POP MASINA musical statement in the manner that “Kiselina” failed to achieve. 

Alas, the first thing obviously spoiling the overall picture is the inclusion of live track “Negde daleko” (“Somewhere Faraway”) which absolutely does not fit the album. It was recorded in concert almost a year before and consists of heavy-metallic crowd-pleaser with annoying vocal screaming, endless and pointless guitar solo and outdated blues-rock pattern in the way of early LED ZEPPELIN or CREAM. With almost 7 minutes, it took away precious vinyl space leaving only about 25 minutes for original studio material. Intention was probably to showcase the live atmosphere at the band on stage, but in light of later full-length live album “Put ka suncu”, this now seems redundant. 

Two songs with “progressive”, multi-part structure and experimental inclination are interesting, even very good at moments but both suffer from lack of a complete idea and consistent arrangement. “Vreme za nas” (“Time For Us”) opens the album with excellent heavy riff and amazing drumming by Bata Popovic (one of the first drummers in Yugoslavia to use a double bass-drum kit), which transforms into experimental and psychedelic parts filled with Roland synth played by the band’s long-time associate (and almost the “fourth member”) Sloba Markovic. It reminds me of certain Manfred Mann’s work he did with the EARTH BAND. Different parts however seem unnaturally connected. Otherwise the song might have been excellent example of “heavy prog”. 

Similar objection I would raise about the album closer “Zemlja svetlosti/Kraj II” (“The Land of Light”/“The End II”) - a very nice idea (good heavy groove, strong vocals, instrumental transition with piano and spacey percussion and chimes, cyclical main theme repeated in the end) was not followed by proper realization. 

This leaves me with impression that only two tracks are spotless in their production - one easy acoustic ballad and one hard rocking stomper. “Rekvijem za prijatelja” (“Requiem For a Friend”) was penned by Nemecek and his oldtime collaborators Nebojsa Ignjatovic (ex-DOGOVOR IZ 1804), Ljuba Ninkovic (S VREMENA NA VREME) and omnipresent Sloba Markovic, using Bach’s baroque chorals as inspiration. Markovic’s Hammond invokes PROCOL HARUM’s “Whiter Shade of Pale”, while acoustic guitars and strings add a softy and sentimental feeling. The song ends with attractive synthesizer solo. During its recording the band learnt of a sudden death of their friend Predrag Jovicic, lead singer of the band called SAN, who died on stage of electrocution (similar what had happened three years earlier to Les Harvey of STONE THE CROWS!), so they decided to dedicate this song to him. 

“Secanja” (“Memories”) in contrast is a powerful heavy track with impeccable guitar riffs and solo. Driving bass and especially Popovic’s drums complete perhaps the strongest instrumental moment on the album. Only Bozinovic’s vocals (otherwise a weak spot of the band’s sound) are not very convincing. 

Finally, this uneven record contains a nice instrumental “Na izvoru” (“At the Source”) which reminds us that ALLMAN BROTHERS’ “Jessica” was very popular in Yugoslavia too - slide guitar and piano chords are quite similar to the famed Southern Rockers’ hit. 

I would say again this album deserves something between 3 and 4 stars, but given the better overall conditions for recording, I would expect much stronger final result for giving the whole 4. This LP was reissued on vinyl in 2008 by Atlantide, in a limited edition..by…sevo….~







Line-up / Musicians 
- Zoran Bozinovic / guitar, voice 
- Robert Nemecek / bass guitar, acoustic guitar, percussion, voice 
- Mihajlo Popovic / drums, percussion 

With: 
- Slobodan Markovic / organ, piano, Roland synthesizer 
- Ljubomir Ninkovic / acoustic guitar, percussion 
- Franjo Bergar / oboe 
- Bozo Mihelcic / violin 
- Karel Zuzek / violin 
- Anton Care / cello 
- Stane Demsar / cello







Tracklist 
A1 Vreme Za Nas
A2 Negde Daleko 
Mixed By – Mile Miletić 
Recorded By – Aca Radojčić* 
A3 Rekvijem Za Prijatelja 
Written-By – Ninković*, Ignjatović*, Nemeček*, Marković* 
B1 Sećanja
B2 Na Izvoru
B3 Zemlja Svetlosti
B4 Kraj II 



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Pop Mašina ‎ “Kiselina” 1973 Yugoslavia Heavy Prog

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