Sniper / L'uomo di Bijeljina

Album cover: interesting juxtaposition of colored guy w/accordion, backdrop is 'Welcome to hell' wall in Sarajevo

L'uomo di Bijeljina

(The man from Bijeljina)
Srazz Records, 1997, SRZ 00210

Srazz Records
Marghera-Venezia, Italy
Tel: 041 - 931956

So we're heading down the road in Serbia looking for the perfect restaurant in the rain. We find it. We know it, in part, because across the road a band is playing a wedding and wailing away. That particular night the band was playing Turkish pop style. But they could just as easily have gotten our toes tapping with the Bosnian rock sounds of this unique Italian band.

Carlo Essini, the band's internet connection, describes the band thus: "Our music is in an indefinite territory: the rock addict doesn't like the strange meters or the balalaika in the same way that the ethnomusicologist hates our electric guitars or blues arrangment, but I strongly believe in contamination among the cultures: I have my head in the west and my heart in the balkans. We also use a little klezmer music." I like best the band slogan, from their letterhead: "Sniper: Eastern European music in western popular sauce."

I have to say that, as a Bosnian rock band, these guys are okay. Not extraordinary, but certainly okay. A bit of "Jovano, Jovanke," a lovely Greek or Macedonian "Garsona." A bit too much of the garbage can beat in "Dimitroula." But that's okay. The vocalist is quite nice. Certainly a great band to have in a bar on Saturday night when you're trying to let your feet flow to those wonderful, non-western balkan rhythms.

But what got my attention was the last two songs. This is klezmer as it has never been recorded--at least, not in my earshot. I mean, there I am, talking on the phone to a friend, and I'm describing this interesting jam--the sort of thing you might hear from, say, Canned Heat, or a decent sixties white person's blues bar band, except that, well, I suddenly realize that it's klezmer and they're singing Yiddish. Call me twisted, but I love it. I'll never hear the "Odessa Bulgar" the same again. It kinda works in heavy metal mode, even with the garbage can lid drumming. And someone should have done this to "Di sapozhkelakh" years ago.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 5/29/98

Translation of the story in the liner notes


  1. Jovano, Jovanke 3:40
  2. Kustino oro 3:42
  3. Vodo 5:50
  4. Makedonsko devojce 3:22
  5. Garsona 2:50
  6. Dimitroula 4:05
  7. Gori Sarajevo 3:22
  8. Odessa bulgar 3:33
  9. Di sapozhkelakh 7:05

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