Wednesday 27 May 2015

Naked - Stone Upon Stone Festival, Nis, Serbia

Branislav Radojkovic - Bass
The balance between embracing tradition and striking out for a new promised land is one that occupies the thoughts of many bands. No more so than in Serbia where a new country and new music emerges from ruins and dreams. Forget romanticising these words as though they possessed the Technicolor of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, for we live now and listen now too.

Goran Milosevic - Drums
Belgrade foursome Naked gave us their own interpretation of this heady mix at the Symphony Orchestra Hall in Nis, Serbia for the opening night of the Stone Upon Stone festival (15/04/2015). The lynch pin is Branislav Radojkovic whose bass pumps deep into our veins, its viscosity is nearer to oil than blood but the passionate effects are just the same.

Each member of Naked strike you visually as individuals, representing a unique island race all of their own. You feel like Gulliver as you visit their worlds and instruments. Despite sitting at his drums Goran Milosevic mixes Jonathan Swift's giants with Dashiell Hammett's thin man, especially with fedora perched on his head. The third tune was his, ringing bells from Milosevic heralded an oncoming storm alongside the pied piper clarinet of  Ivan Teofilović. Despite a quickening tempo there was indeed a calm before the inevitable downpour, what followed was those huge pregnant drops of rain that bang on car bonnets and window pains with such resonance.

On our Chartreuse island lived a race of violinists and their king was Djordje Mijuskovic. His shovel hands played with such delicate touch and yet their breadth pulled us into his encompassing and suffocating warmth. His anthem was 'GreenBrown Eyes', unquestioningly a metaphor, for we never saw his pupils as they lay secreted under heavy lids. The tune's essence had a Charlie Chaplin gait, rounded and easy going. It had wandering feet and a generosity that our island monarch dished out to us, his devotees.

Djordje Mijuskovic - Violin
There was wildness to the archipelago we encountered next where the woodwind instruments roam. The Ben Gunn figure that greeted our Jim Hawkins' eyes weaved narratives with both saxophone and clarinet. Ivan Teofilović is the earthy pagan figure that plays with fire and dances his musical words in the flames.

It was our final island dweller that ruled the roost of all he surveyed, the heavy crush of Branislav Radojkovic's bass cut up the land that surrounded him. It gouged dark smears into the fertile melodies laid down by Mijuskovic, Teofilović and Milosevic. Through his playing and presence Radojkovic animated the black notes of music into an army of crawling beetles, such was their swarm that they were continually crushed underfoot, oozing their acrid and dark juices.

Ivan Teofilović - Clarinet
Do not be fooled into believing that Naked continually lurked under sooty and heavy skies for they were much more playful than that. Their sway and positive light emboldened the Stone Upon Stone audience and we felt we had just experienced an adventure with tales to tell. Not every pirate's chest had been opened in our minds but the promise of a cross on a treasure map kept us interested right up until the end.

If you would like to unearth Naked's latest album Nakedonia (NarRator Records) then it available HERE.


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