Boomkat Product Review:
Vladimir Ivkovic takes the reins for the latest in Berceuse Heroique’s occasional mixtape series with a killer regression session of Yugoslavian new wave, no wave, new romantic and jilted love songs that soundtracked his youth in ‘80s Belgrade, Serbia, where he first hatched a spellbinding style of dancefloor storytelling, here painting a Byzantine picture of a misunderstood era, honing in on pluralism at a time of great division.
Growing up in Belgrade in the '80s, Ivkovic was flooded with radically different hybrid sounds oozing from across Yugoslavia, a large region that merged contemporary Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosova, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. Made up of a patchwork of different ethnic groups - Roma, Albanians, Slovaks, Serbs, Turks and Bosniaks - Yugoslavia's mesh of different cultures led to spiky creative expression that you can hear clearly in the music. Ivkovic describes his mix as a "ghost-train ride through the formative and influential tracks" of his youth in Belgrade, and while he's quick to admit that this kind of musical co-mingling was happening elsewhere, he also knows that Yugoslavia had its own peppery twist (with kajmak on the side, of course).
Anyone who has spent time on a dancefloor entranced by Ivkovic will know the kind of high grade madness to expect, but failing that, this is the place to start yr obsession. Tune to tune and bullet after bullet he illuminates Yugoslavian parallels with scenes elsewhere while also making it obvious what made it so distinct, with frayed strains of NYC No-Wave and Manchester x Berlin Gothic Brutalism refracted and mixed with Balkan folk melodies, screwed vocals and unusual hooks within their shapeshifting milieu.
Over almost 90 minutes, he airs out the uneven, energetic intensity that emerged as the country spiralled into eventual dissolution - tracks from well-known acts like Slovenian industrial dissidents Laibach, Serbian experimental pop band Idoli and influential post-punk/new wave troupe Šarlo Akrobata rub effortlessly alongside shadowy cuts from new romantics U Škripcu and scrunched-up reggae-lounge grooves from Belgrade's Ekatarina Velika (aka EKV).
There's so much to sink yr teeth into - if you've not got any idea about the music of former Yugoslavia then it's a valuable history lesson, and if you're fully literate prepare yrself for a nostalgia trip littered with bizarre wrong turns, stylistic road-bumps, and wall-to-wall offbeat killers.
A big one for mad heads!