The 2nd album from Belgrade Ethno-Noise outfit Lenhart Tapes, boldly extends producer Vladimir Lenhart’s acclaimed re-tooling of submerged Balkan musics.
Hypnotic Walkman jams meet industrial rhythm loops and trad-folk songs interpreted by a lineup of thrilling female vocalists: Tijana Stanković, Svetlana Spajić (Gordan, Pjevačka družina Svetlane Spajić) and Zoja Borovčanin (Lira Vega).
A magical, beauty-and-the-beast encounter of dirty noise and righteous folk.
Fans love labels, musicians tend not to, so it’s rare to find one so ready to oblige. Vladimir Lenhart will happily drop Ethno-Noise on you, then leave you to work out what that might mean. You’ll have a pretty good idea after about a minute of this record ― or indeed if you’ve spent any time in the Balkans generally, surrounded by folk music in all its incarnations, and in Belgrade specifically, which yields up the ghosts of the Yugoslav punk and industrial scenes of the 1980s and the city’s current experimental excursions to anyone with time to listen and explore.
The interrogation of folk and the national songbook has gained considerable currency in the last several years (think Damir Imamović in Bosnia, Richard Dawson in the UK or Lenhart Tapes’ Glitterbeat labelmates Altın Gün), but Lenhart Tapes are taking a slightly different path. Vladimir’s grandfather Ján was a popular interpreter of Slovak folk song in the 1950s, and the careful marshalling of national minority cultures in Yugoslavia produced a musical heritage that continues to resonate for those that have come after. Being younger, however, means that they have their own musical stories to tell and influences to work around. Vladimir’s tapes-by-the-kilo, car-boot-sale approach is something familiar to turntablists and hip-hop artists, but it’s his love of industrial sound that’s key, producing a magical, beauty-and-the-beast encounter of dirty noise, improvised violin and righteous folk.
Vladimir Lenhart is only one half of the story here, however. Enter Tijana Stanković: singer, classically trained violinist, ethnomusicologist and Radio Belgrade music editor. By Vladimir’s own admission, her encyclopaedic knowledge of the music he had grown up with turned the project from something somewhat ironic to something very sincere. He recalls an immediate connection, over a shared love of that music, and it’s a connection that has since developed in perhaps unforeseen directions, with Tijana herself pushing Vladimir into an even more uncompromising sonic stance. It’s a happy provocation, and one that marks this record out as a collaboration of equals. There’s a lot going on in this record, and you’ll want time (and your biggest ears) to catch it all. Expertly produced and mastered, with superb vocal presence courtesy of Tijana Stanković, Zoja Borovčanin and Svetlana Spajić, it’s an endlessly fascinating analogue journey that rewards repeated and close listening. Where will they go next? One thing’s for certain, Lenhart Tapes will continue to bring the Noise.