I have never been to Slovenia, considered by many as the Switzerland of Central Europe. This small country of 2 millions people has given birth to an incredible musical UFO: the trio Širom, which makes imaginary folk by its own definition, has literally dazzled me.
The Liquified Throne of Simplicity (Utekocin Prestol Prepostih in slovanian) is the fourth album of Širom, formed by Ana Kravanja, Iztok Koren and Sao Kutin, all from the Slovenian alternative scene.
And what a program: the first 4 pieces last between 16 and 20 minutes! Those highly creative musicians offer us a complex journey that takes us from Central Europe to the Balkans, through Africa, Bali or the Middle East. But all this is hyper fluid and all the more amazing.
Sometimes you think it’s Steve Reich, Terry Riley or Jon Hassell. Sometimes there are even hints of German synthetic music but there are no synthesizers or electronic processes. At one point, the flayed sound of the viol reminds you of John Cale’s. At other times, it reminds me a bit of the Hungarian folk group Kolinda, who in the 70’s made very elaborate music during the communist dictatorship – if you can find it, listen to this very intriguing record 1514, released in 1976.
I’m talking about evocations, but it’s clear to me that Širom’s music is totally original.
All the instruments are acoustic and there is an incredible amount of them: banjo, guembri, balafon, ocarina, lira, lute, viola, mizmar, multiple percussion instruments and, according to the album’s description, “various objects”.
The group also invents instruments, in addition to using an incredible array of musical tools. Its craftsmen also use what they call “acoustic resonators”. This sometimes gives the appearance of electronic instrumentation.
All of the pieces on The Liquified Throne of Simplicity are long introspective journeys; with different rhythms. There are quiet moments, but also dissonances that can remind of free jazz. But it never lasts long.
The pieces are largely instrumental, although Ana Kravanja’s beautiful voice is added as an instrument, especially on” A Bluish Flickering”. By the way, the titles of the pieces are as strange and creative as Širom’s music.
The band says they were inspired by long walks in the Slovenian countryside during the pandemic. This musical journey really fascinated me! The members of Širom describe their fourth album as an extension of the previous three, but more daring because of the length of the pieces.
This music requires a thorough listening, to hear all the juxtaposed sounds, the multiple changes of rhythms; of atmosphere. But what a result!
Long live Širom. A magnificent example of local art with a universal scope.