Preko Reke



Full Price (47 mins)

Originally published in Songlines.

It had to happen sooner or later: the coming together of Serbia’s two great musical loves, monophonic folk and monolithic rock under the same musical roof. But before you reach for the industrial strength earplugs and rakija, some background. Vrelo was founded in 1999 as a folk ensemble with eighteen female singers and seven traditional musicians performing Serbian ritual songs. Not musically unlike its much better known cousin Bulgarian folk singing, as practised so wonderfully by groups like Les Mysteres des Voix Bulgares and Trio Bulgarka, Serbian close vocal harmony songs as sung accapella by Vrelo – now an eight piece with bass and drums – is every bit as spine-tingling. Their subsequent evolution in 2003 into a speaker shattering rock and electronic folk outfit is not as scary as it sounds: tracks like the opener ‘Karavilje Lale’, and ‘Teralo Stojne’with their roaring bass and punching syncopated snares under the soaring unison folk song doesn’t make for easy listening, but somehow manage to be both faithful to their traditions and utterly convincing underground pop. It’s not maximum distortion all the way though: ‘Brovi’ sounds like a Balkan Mantronix with its rolling 90s groove, and the jazzy ‘Dođi Mali’ could be late Roy Ayers holidaying on the Black Sea. It won’t be for everyone, but with this much energy you can imagine them blowing everything else clean off the site at WOMAD.

You may also like: