unclean, a libertine

The World According to Ivana Stab

Gypsy Magic

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Goran Bregovic’s song Mesecina in Emir Kusturica’s film Underground.


Listening to Gogol Bordello has made me reconnect with my inner filthy Eastern European. I listen to music from Former Yugoslavia all the time, but this has made me remember the gypsy side of it all…the stuff you can consume a lot of rakija or vodka to and dance even if you don’t understand a word. Here are a few of my favourite songs of that variety…


Zabranjeno Pusenje – Zeni Nam Se Vukota


This song is in Serbian. From Wikipedia: “Zabranjeno Pušenje (meaning “No Smoking”) was a Yugoslavian garage rock band from Sarajevo. They were one of the most popular musical acts of the 1980s in Yugoslavia, selling hundreds of thousands of records. The band was formed in 1981 in Sarajevo by a group of friends who worked on the early radio version of Top Lista Nadrealista (TV satire show). Contrary to the then-prevalent punk rock and new wave, Zabranjeno Pušenje created a distinctive garage rock sound with folk influences, often featuring innovative production and complex story-telling, sometimes even dark premonitions of war. They went on to record four albums and tour the country extensively, occasionally sparking controversy and even getting into trouble with authorities for their (usually mild and sympathetic) criticism of the socialist system. After the band’s popularity reached new heights in late 1980s, spurred on by the televised version of Top Lista Nadrealista, the Bosnian War which followed saw the breakup of the band, with one offshoot continuing work in Belgrade initially as Zabranjeno Pušenje, later under the name The No Smoking Orchestra, and the other in Zagreb, using the original name. Nevertheless, many of the songs of Zabranjeno Pušenje have attained an anthemic status and their music remains popular across Former Yugoslavia.”

Goran Bregovic – Kalasnjikov


This song is in some sort of gypsy language and I highly recommend everyone download it. Bregovic was in Sydney recently, playing at the Opera House, and I’m really sad I didn’t attend the concert. From Wikipedia: “Goran Bregovic is a Serbian musician and one of the most recognizable modern composers of the Balkans. He has been a household name in the Balkans for over three decades. Bregović has composed for such varied artists as Iggy Pop and Cesaria Evora. He rose to fame playing guitar with his rock band Bijelo Dugme, a group that set the groundwork for the Yugoslav rock scene. Known internationally for his scores for Emir Kusturica’s films, Bregović performs with a large ensemble of musicians. A brass band, bagpipes, a string ensemble, a tuxedo-clad all-male choir from Belgrade, and traditional Bulgarian and Roma singers make up his 40-piece band and orchestra. Bregović’s compositions, extending Balkan musical inspirations to innovative extremes, draw upon European classicism and Balkan rhythms.”




Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra – Pitbull Terrier

Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra – Djindji Rindji Bubamara


All Gogol fans must download these songs. When Annie sent me the link to listen to Gogol Bordello’s music, the first thought I had was how similar it was to what The No Smoking Orchestra is doing. They were also in Sydney recently, and I also missed that concert! Ugh. The first song is in English, and the second in some sort of gypsy language, I think. From Wikipedia: “Emir Kusturica is a Serbian filmmaker, actor and musician. He won the Palme d’Or at Cannes twice (for When Father Was Away on Business and Underground). He is also a recipient of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.” The No Smoking Orchestra, as previously mentioned, is made up of some members of Zabranjeno Pusenje, including the frontman Dr Nele Karajlic, without whom the band is not the same thing, and try hard as they may, what the others are doing now has nothing to do with Zabranjeno Pusenje and they should stop using and abusing the name. They have some good songs of their own, but without Dr Nele, they are not even close to the genius that Zabranjeno Pusenje once was.


2 Responses

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  1. […] band and orchestra. Bregović’s compositions, extending Balkan musical inspirations to …Read More.. WHAT TO DO NOW? Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback […]

  2. this is solid gold


    December 23, 2008 at 5:55 am

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