Katarina II – Katarina II (1984)

capaAfter the quintessential Belgrade new wave band of the early ’80s, Šarlo Akrobata, hit the rocks, the trio essentially splintered in two directions. Bass player Dušan Kojić went on to form Disciplina Kičme, where he continued to experiment with various musical influences, while the more lyrical, poetic of the two, vocalist/guitar player Milan Mladenović, opted to form Katarina II. Named as such, the band which later reached starry (in local terms) heights under Ekatarina Velika moniker released only this album, which quickly became a cult favorite in old Yugoslavia.

The New Wave music scene emerged at the end of the ’70s, it was especially advocated by the music magazines Polet from Zagreb and Džuboks from Belgrade, and by the TV show Rokenroler, which was famous for its artistic music videos.

Šarlo Akrobata
Šarlo Akrobata

Important bands of the Yugoslav new wave are Šarlo Akrobata, Idoli, Prljavo Kazalište, Azra, Električni Orgazam, Aerodrom, Atomsko Skoloniste, Laboratorija Zvuka, Lačni Franz, Gu Gu, Hazard, Moulin Rouge, and many others. (!)

Let’s go to our artist:

Ekatarina Velika (Catherine the Great, also called EKV) was a rock group from Belgrade, Serbia. During its existence, EKV built up a devoted following that greatly intensified and expanded after the death of its frontman Milan Mladenović in 1994, which caused the band to dissolve. The group’s core consisted of singer and guitarist Milan Mladenović, keyboardist Margita Stefanović and bassist Bojan Pečar.

Initially named Katarina II, was formed in February 1982 following the breakup of Šarlo Akrobata, Katarina II’s self-titled debut album finally came out in 1984.

Magazine Issue
Magazine Issue

After the release the group fell apart due to artistic differences, guitarist Gagi Mihajlović claimed rights to the Katarina II name, then, the remaining members settled on Ekatarina Velika. In 1985, EKV released their debut album, Ekatarina Velika, the Lp is characterized by an energetic sound and Milan’s hermetic, introspective, and metaphorical lyrics. 1986 follow up album S Vetrom Uz Lice proved to be the breakthrough album that turned them into bona fide stars!

The hits included ‘Budi Sam Na Ulici’ and ‘Ti Si Sav Moj Bol’, in addition to wider mainstream acceptance, S Vetrom Uz Lice also got some lukewarm reviews from critics complaining it sounded too much like Simple Minds and The Mission (sic).

80's Promo
80’s Promo

In 1987 the band recorded and released Ljubav, it displayed a more guitar-oriented, polished sound, partly because of new producer Theodore Yanni. It also showed the first signs of Milan’s depressive lyrics, as exemplified by song ‘Tonemo’; the band confirmed their newfound star status with two consecutive sold-out shows at Belgrade’s Hala Pionir sports arena. The 1989 album Samo Par Godina Za Nas wasn’t received well by the critics, though it does feature the song Par Godina Za Nas which was voted the best (ex) Yugoslavian rock song in 2006 by Serbian Radios!

In the ’90s the band released albums irregularly due to band changes and the political situation in Yugoslavia. Dum Dum (1991) and Neko Nas Posmatra (1993) were released but the band slowly fell apart. Milan Mladenović was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August and died on November 5, 1994, at the age of 36.

Margita Stefanović (RIP)
Margita Stefanović

Bassist Bojan Pečar died in London on October 13, 1998, aged 37, as a result of a heart attack. Early drummers Ivan ‘Vd’ Vdović passed away in 1992 and Dušan Dejanović died from AIDS on November 16, 2000. Keyboard player and vocalist Margita Stefanović died on September 18, 2002, drug abuse was rumored (never confirmed) to be the cause, she was 43 and the last of the original line up left. (RIP all of them)

Let’s go to our album:

The band had started the recording of the album in Beograd but due to various problems, it was finally recorded for the Slovenian label ZKP RTLJ (RTV Ljubljana). The album producer was Đorđe Petrović, and guest stars were Mario Čelik (congas) and Jurij Novoselić (saxophone) from the (famous) Croatian new wave band Film.

Initially pressed in mere 3,000 copies, Katarina II is a spirited debut effort, torn somewhere between the new wave aesthetic and polished rock sound which became the hallmark of Ekatarina Velika. Essentially, there are two main vibes to discern on this album, Milan Mladenović’s songs are more progressive in its approach, like ‘Jesen’, ‘Geto’ and ‘Aut’, contrasting with the songs written by Dragan Mihajlović, ‘Vrt’, ‘Platforme’ and ‘Treba Da Se Čisti’, which retain the structure and faux-mysticism of the previous movement (Idoli and Šarlo Akrobata).

Back Cover
Back Cover

Slotted in between is a beautiful little ballad ‘Kad Krenem Ka’, written and sang by Margita, as well as a cheery pop number ‘Radostan Dan’. Overall, it all makes for a well-rounded package, with a couple of classics (Geto and Jesen) and eclipsed influences such as Talking Heads. An absolutely essential listen, Sretan Put!

The ‘IM’ highlights are Radostan Dan and Ja Znam.

Tracks Include:

A1 Aut

A2 Vrt

A3 Platforme

A4 Radostan Dan

A5 Geto

B1 Treba da Se Čisti 1

B2 Ja Znam

B3 Kad Krenem Ka

B4 Treba da Se Čisti 2

B5 Jesen

Credits

  • Bass: Bojan Pečar
  • Drums, Percussion: Ivan Vdović
  • Guitar: Dragomir Mihailović
  • Guitar, Vocals: Milan Mladenović
  • Keyboards, Vocals: Margita Stefanović
  • Congas (Featuring): Mario Čelik
  • Music, Arranged: Katarina II
  • Photography: Aleksandar Knežević, Ivan Pešić, Srđan Vejvoda
  • Design: Margita
  • Producer, Recorded: Đorđe Petrović

Recorded at studio Akvarius, Beograd, end of December, 1983.

ZKP RTVL ‎– LD 0954

Uvac Canyon
Uvac Canyon

Agentss – Compactos (1982 – 83)

coverThe Brazilian music scene from the 70s was not very favorable to Rock, much seen with reservations by the Generals of the time; Brazil was still a country devoted entirely to the MPB (phonographically speaking), even with names like Rita Lee and Raul Seixas, rock did not have a dedicated ground for the public, marginalized, without many projections in the mass media and also without a show-business structure that favored them. But with the turn of the decade, it began to assert itself and during 1981/82, the beginning of a new generation no longer restricted to the MPB arose. More open to the world musical context, as the ideal of the punk movement (do-it-yourself) and the colorful entertaining bands from the New Wave.

Youngsters who were born under the years of lead, dreamed of a freer style of music, by the time psychedelia and progressive rock with their remote themes and 15 minutes trips, little or nothing dialogue with the backdrop of the beach, sun, and Rio’s sea. Note that in São Paulo (concrete jungle) those same longings became the Vanguarda Paulista and the birth of the punk movement, not as accessible as their brothers in Rio (these and other developments will be addressed in future posts).

Começo do Fim do Mundo
Começo do Fim do Mundo

The precursors of so-called BRock were the Cariocas from Gang 90, and his debut at the MPB-Shell festival in August 1981 with the song Perdidos na Selva. From there, three factors contributed to the formation and dissemination of a new musical explosion with its apex culminating in the realization of the first Rock in Rio in January 1985.

They are: the foundation of Circo Voador (a playhouse) in January 82 in Ipanema, the premiere of Fluminense FM (Maldita), first radio to play (solely) rock in national territory, and the organization of the first punk festival, Começo do Fim do Mundo on November 82, at the newly inaugurated SESC Pompeia.

Some BRock bands: Gang 90, Blitz, Paralamas do Sucesso, Barão Vermelho, Kid Abelha, Lobão, Lulu Santos, Legião Urbana, Ira!…

Circo Voador
Circo Voador

Let’s go to our history:

The political opening exhaustively repeated by the militaries as slow, gradual and safe, began at the end of the 70s, under strong repression of the right sectors that were contrary to the process initiated by the Amnesty Law in 1979. Numerous bombings throughout 1980 and 1981 attempted to cause a climate of political and social instability, culminating with the Rio Centro case: a bomb exploded in a parking lot inside a Puma car, killing the sergeant Guilherme Ferreira do Rosario and seriously injuring the captain Wilson Luís Chaves Machado, both linked to DOI-CODI (sic).

The bomb exploded while being handled, and prepared to be detonated near the Rio Centro lightbox in order to cut power and generate panic among the regulars of the show which was held in celebration of Labor Day, more than 20,000 people participating along with numerous music artists!

Riocentro Bombings
Riocentro Bombings

On occasion, the government blamed the radical left for the attacks. This hypothesis had no support at the time and has been debunked, including a confession, proved that the attack was an attempt of more radical sectors of government (the CIE and SNI) to convince more moderate sectors that were required a new wave of repression in order to paralyze the slow political openness that was in progress. (!)

Let’s go to our album:

After a trip to the U.S. in the early 80s, Kodiak Bachine decides to start a band inspired by punk and new waves groups that had watched and heard. With a new look, Kodiak has teamed up with guitarists Miguel Barella (Voluntários da Pátria) and Eduardo Amarante (Zero). Beyond them were part Lyses Pupo (bass) and drummer Elias Glik. The quintet had a strong line with the Talking Heads, B-52’s, Kraftwerk, Blondie, Devo, Gary Numan, and Brian Eno. The seminal group pioneer in Brazil’s new-wave movement incorporated elements of electronic music and minimalist, making extensive use of icons and scenery that aided in the spread of brand new musical ideas and concepts in the emerging Electro-Pop of the 80s.

Agentss
Agentss

Kodiak sang, he said, in eletrotranzlyric, a dialect of his own invention that mixed Portuguese, English, German, and extraterrestrial languages​​. (!) After the release of the first single, the band performed three shows in 1982, the first on 25 September at Ilhas do Sul theater. Soon it became a cult among youngsters in São Paulo, taking a loyal following of admirers who filled the places where the band performed. With only five shows in one year, they left a lasting impression on the scene. With no label support or sponsorship, the band was hampered and cannot make more shows.

Kodiak, Live
Kodiak, Live

The Agentss recorded only two compacts being the first, in 1981, an independent production, released in 1982. The second was released by WEA label with musical production by Pena Schmidt in 1983. The group broke up amicably at the end of 1983 for philosophical reasons, Miguel Barella formed Voluntários da PátriaEduardo Amarante and Thomas Susemihl formed Azul 29 (also a pioneer in Electro-Pop). Later, Eduardo joined Guilherme Isnard and formed Zero, while Kodiak went solo.

This is one of those bands where you wonder why you haven’t known them before (?!), their leader Kodiak Bachine, is one of the most underrated keyboardists, a specialist in short bands but with great importance in the Brazilian context. With its futuristic synths and a vanguard proposal for the time, the band, unfortunately, did not achieve much publicity, being limited to São Paulo. A curious fact from the second compact is its cover, the first produced entirely on a computer, being photographed and reproduced because there was no way to print the same!

Computer Cover
Computer Cover

As it is only 4 songs, let’s give a chance to all of them, but let me advance you something, the title track Agentss is something beyond the expectations, being modern and exciting even to this day. With satyrical and humorous lyrics about radiation, robots, and computers this domestically unknown band goes way off our traditional psychedelia so far, get ready for AGENTSS. நல்லபயணம்!

Some more BRock bands: Inocentes, Capital Inicial, Titãs, RPM, Violeta de Outono, Plebe Rube, Camisa de Vênus, Ultraje A Rigor, Cólera…

Tracks Include:

1982

A Angra (Orion)

B Agentss (Duo, Kodiak)

Scorpius 22.101.003

Guitar – Orion Mike (Miguel Barella)

Guitar – Duo Enkanativa (Eduardo Amarante)

Voice, Synths & Keyboards – Kodiak Bachine

Drums – Roberto L. Antônio

Bass – Luiz F. Portela

Drums on AngraArmando Tibério Júnior

Credits

Engineered by – Pedro Franck Nemeth

Assisted by – Dom Elder

Mixed by – Pedro Franck Nemeth + Duo + Kodiak

Photo – Fritz Nagib

Recorded in São Paulo, August, 1981

Flyer, Logo
Flyer, Logo

1983

A Professor Digital

B Cidade Industrial

Elektra ‎BR.12.123

  • Bass, Backing Vocals – Thomas Susemihl
  • Drums – Elias Glik
  • Guitar – Miguel Barella
  • Guitar, Bass, Synthesizer – Eduardo Amarante
  • Voice, Synthesizers – Kodiak Bachine
  • Engineer – Ivo Barreto
  • Art Direction – Guti
  • Producer – Pena Schmidt

Recorded At – Estúdio Áudio Patrulha

Computer Vax 11/700

Rock In Rio, 1985
Rock In Rio, 1985