THE ESSENTIAL WORLDWIDE ROOTS MUSIC GUIDE
Local Music From Out There:
BRINA, Pasja Legenda, Druga godba, DRUGOD 005
Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia, but it's in no way Balkan, nor is its music. Partly as a result of the country's geographical position and history as part of the oompah-ing Austrian empire, distinctively Slovenian traditional song with old roots is an elusive thing, and the most publicised Slovenian band in worldmusic circles can hardly be said to play Slovenian music. But it does exist, in collections and in the hands and mouths of a few present-day practitioners, including singer Brina Vogelnik.
She isn't traditional singer in terms of her background, nor does she go for any kind of traditional vocal or arranging approach – she usually adapts or completely rewrites the traditional lyrics and melodies to a personal style – but she's bringing songs from collections back into the light, nowadays with an accomplished quintet comprising guitar, violin, bass, drums and accordeon or piano.
The songs treat of such things as unre-quited love, maidens singing and dancing at the summer solstice, a knight's questing trials, and the cruelty of an orphan's stepmother. Skesani hudodelec, sung to a snare-rolled waltz tune, is a repentant felon's prediction that after his hanging the magpies will comb his hair and black hawks scatter his body across the pine forest. Brina's singing is generally calm, with elegant accompaniments, but she occasionally surges, rocking out in Anka, in which a girl setting out in the wide world meets a highwayman who instead of killing and robbing her turns out to be her brother and takes her home, and Neža, which tells of a snake transformed to a prince at a young girl's touch. The album's closer, the love song Rožce Tri, is set to a cymbal-tishing, key-changing and rather messy Latin-Caribbean groove that might gee up an audience live but sits rather incongruously with the rest of the album.