29 Nov 2023

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Bazurka - Album Review: Novi Grad All Stars

06 Jul 2023 // A review by Rob Harbers

Te-Whanganui-a-Tara’s Bazurka back up their cool-as-fuck name with a refreshingly distinct sound, one that brings the spirit of the Balkans alive in contemporary Aotearoa.

Their new album, Novi Grad All Stars, opens with a flourish of brass, leading in to a delicate violin threnody, which then segues into a syncopated groove, in which all the players are given their opportunity to shine. Dejan’s Disastrous Date (which one hopes refers to an unsuccessful romantic encounter, rather than a part of human anatomy!) opens proceedings and sets the tone for what follows. I can’t claim to be any sort of an expert on this type of music (despite being a frequent attendee at WOMAD), so I won’t attempt any kind of comment as to its authenticity or otherwise, but what I do know is that it sounds pretty damn rad, with a rhythmic flow that’s sure to get you moving, especially if you’re that way inclined!.

The Bridal Procession Procures More Prosecco conveys the urgency and immediacy of such a vital quest, humming along at a fair pace. After such lively pieces, Bjorn Jiorno offers a chance for some rest, with its more sedate feel, before Jovano Jovanke introduces vocals into the previously instrumental-only tapestry. This is a piece of two halves, the first segment setting a moody and atmospheric tone, before a violin breakout at the halfway mark introduces a faster tempo.

The pace accelerates yet more with Tristan’s Kitchen Nightmare, a short and sweet little ditty that piques the interest as to the nature of the eponymous hero’s culinary misadventures. But, ultimately, you don’t need me to bore you with the name of every single track (although, to be fair, I’ve already hit you with over half of the album’s 9 titles) - just let it be known that here is a sound that bows not to fashion, nor chases the empty delights of being the flavour of the month, but is instead true to itself and its roots. And therein is its strength.

An album definitely worth checking out-it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, I’d expect, but for those with ears to hear, there’s something refreshingly different going on here. I hope to encounter this ensemble somewhere on the road in the future - I’d confidently wager that they’d be a lot of fun in a live setting (and they’d be able to explain the motivations and meanings behind the music!). Listen up!


About Bazurka

Bazurka are a seven piece Balkan fusion ensemble. Forged in the fires of the cultural melting pot that is Newtown, and tempered by passion, heartache, and a dash of madness, their music is bold, brooding, and beautiful. They’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you cry, they’ll make you dance like your life depended on it.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Bazurka


Novi Grad All Stars
Year: 2023
Type: Album

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