Slovenian Music Week - Ljubljana, Slovenia

Barely Modern, BeatMyth, Spinal Tap and more
Barely Modern - Slovenian Music Week
It’s a sultry March evening and Clash are about to achieve one of the ambitions all right-minded folks should definitely add to their to-do list if time-travel is ever invented: attending the premiere of ‘This is Spinal Tap’.

Delorean-free, we’re actually doing it at a delightful arts cinema in downtown Ljubljana, where the first annual Slovenian Music Week is complemented by what may well be the world’s first dedicated rockumentary festival. This former Yugoslavian republic was under the yoke of communism when ‘Spinal Tap’ was released in the early 1980s, and its opening-night showing here turns out to be the mighty spoof’s first ever theatrical presentation in Slovenia. Which does raise the splendid prospect of a local subtitler having to translate ‘Lick My Love Pump’.

The showcase festival itself kicks off a little way out of the city’s picturesque centre at a splendid community facility called Kino Siska, a smart concert hall and meeting place accompanied by a fleet of offices for local creatives. Clash have been invited over to co-host a talk on the ups and downs of music journalism (general consensus: avoid interviewing Klaxons) and return later in time for Brains, a Hungarian outfit who make an entertaining mix of Rage-style rock-rap with an impressively varied and virile range of beats, let down slightly by the actually rather good rapper rocking an odd cod-Caribbean burr. A slight adjustment to their toaster settings and danube tep could well be coming to a festival near you in the near future.

Onto the Slovenian acts, and Brits might have come across Barely Modern before, as they lived and gigged in Blighty for a year. A quirky trio led by Garth from Wayne’s World, they play absorbingly intense post-punk, apart from a misguided flirtation with The Libertines midway through (you can’t be rigorously tight then pretend to be ramshackle, chaps). Still, it’s a minor quibble.

Best band of the week are BeatMyth, at the bewilderingly dark Klub K4: two regular, slightly nerdy-looking dudes, one crunching thrilling electronica out of a laptop, the other twiddling knobs and rapping on an Eminem/Beasties tip. Such a huge noise from such thin frames.

A pop/lounge lass called Neomi then comes highly recommended by a likeable chap who turns out to be Ljubljana’s finest Phil Collins tribute act, and she’s clearly a talent. Her catchy ballads actually work far better on the album that was thrust upon us though (the intriguingly named ‘Poglej’), partly due to it being perfect home listening, but also because she sings it all in pleasing-on-the-ear Slovenian, whereas the gig is in English. English is massively overrated.

Hex are an entertaining change of pace, black-clad and fearsomely face-painted, they throw jungle, big hints of Prodigy and lots of shouting into the mix. All good fun, but more interesting on a might-break-over-here tip are an act who’ve made the short trip to Slovenia due to a cultural exchange with Austria’s fine Waves festival. Vienna’s Luise Pop have a striking female front-three which – in the K4 darkness – looks to include PJ Harvey on bass and a taller version of her from The xx at centre-forward. There are hints of the latter band’s reverb-heavy riffs in their fine retro-pop workouts, but also a sprightly energy throughout.

A varied programme then - The Subways and Congolese techno types Konono No 1 are also in town during the week - and the Slovenes are clearly discerning souls. The only other film heavily advertised in the city centre - via a huge banner across the main square, in fact – is dark Fassbender art-flick ‘Shame’, or ‘Sramota’ as it’s called here, directed by ‘Stevea McQueena.’

As for the ‘Lick My Love Pump’ translation, they stuck with the original, which was a bit disappointing. So we’ve tried it ourselves and come up with ‘Liži moja ljubezen ?rpalka.’ Which is - ahem - a bit of a mouthful.

Words by Si Hawkins
Photo by Jani Ugri


Click here for a photo gallery of the festival.

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