Belgrado has embraced dub reggae. Don’t worry. Their new album, Obraz (or “Image”), skulks with the Barcelonian quartet’s soulful post-punk bounce. Yet, Obraz, in its stoned languor, bespeaks the lauded anarchist outfit’s embracing their age. Belgrado is not old, as Obraz is the third record of this July after the hits: Belgrado (2011) and Siglo XXI (2013), Belgrado just appears to be shoring up their graceful minimalism for less assault and more meditation. Obraz proves there’s more to Belgrado than the bonds of punk.
Proficiency has cut Belgrado from their progenitors and contemporaries. No one possesses such political lachrymosity draped over tactful artistry like Belgrado’s Renzo Narvaez, Fernando Marquez, Patrycja Proniewska and Jonathan Sirit. Just watch test recording, “Ensayo Siglo XXI” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jw2FEUa3uCY) all dressed in black albeit the white “A” symbolizing anarchy. Neither Arctic Flowers nor Bellicose Minds from Portland, and neither Rule of Thirds from Australia nor NYHC’s Anasazi’s can match because Belgrado stun you with their subterranean pogo groove riled by the Marquez’s sharp wavering guitar. Siglo XXI was Belgrado’s best record.
Siglo XXI looked good, too. Obraz does, too. Belgrado creates an aural world that reflects their cold, grey design. As visual artists, in their differing permutations, Narvaez, Marquez, Proniewska, and Sirit dabble German Bauhaus draped in post-Soviet sheik with pricks of Arabesque typography. Osmosis has occurred in Obraz. Belgrado’s album cover is collaboration on visual fragments. The recording process was another group experiment (which you can read more about in Jessica Willoughby interview: HERE!
Can Obraz stand against the tide of new Spanish punk? Belgrado is cold, refined in their craft, and confident to press against stringent punk. But their longtime label, La Vida Es Un Mus, has culled the best of Spain, not to mention recent bangers like Rixe’s La Nerfs A Vif and the bawdy Lumpy and the Dumpers debut, Huff My Sack. Belgrado’s placed amongst Barcelona’s churl on the new Pueden Ser Ellos. Not too mention the heavyweights: Una Bestia Incontrolable and Orden Mundial. Belgrado has a lot to contend with.
Narvaez, Marquez, and Sirit are a tight unit. The bond is most audible in Narvaez’s bass playing and Sirit’s drumming, that musical relationship. It would be intriguing to hear them play alone. But Marquez’s guitar conducts the two snaking its way through “Na Ten Czas”. Marquez is distinct, his instrument carries the most effects, delays, etc… but he easily settles into the trio.
Then there’s Proniewska, the front woman whose bleached white hair popped from the dower Mediterranean cut of the bunch. Proniewska is Polish and had previously split her lyrics between English and Polish but on Obraz she’s embraced the latter. Belgrado’s gentler sound doesn’t have “Dead Generation’s” early punch. Proniewska doesn’t shout that title like she once did aiming rather for a cabaret lilt, especially on “1000 Spektakli”. Proniewska’s voice is more instrument than spokeswoman.
Obraz is satisfying. It’s hazy, surreal, letting the listener dwell in a waste and then snaps into song, from “Krajobraz” to the pluck of “Raz Dwa.” There’s some moments on Obraz that you’d think were sampled from dub innovator King Tubby’s studio. The intros to “Dalej” and “1000 Spektakli” will catch you off guard for this reason. Belgrado sounds right here, an impressive place to behold from La Vida Es Un Mus’ cacophony.
Tuesday 16th – Oakland
( Belgrado (Spain) // Sun Bather // Crimson Scarlet // Syndicate )
● Wednesday 17th – S.F.
( Belgrado / Muerte / Odio / Kapital )
● Friday 19th – Pittsburg
( ☾Skull Fest & Second Skin present: Belgrado//Shadow Age//Empty Beings☽ )
● Saturday 20th – NYC
( Nowhere to Run Festival )
● Thursday 25th – Portland
( Belgrado, Spectres + guests )