Sniper / L'uomo di Bijeljina

Translations of Liner Note texts

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The following translation of the album liner notes/stories were set by the band. ari

The project of The Man From Bijelijna (a.k.a. Admir Uzicanin) begun as a way to present musical pieces during concerts. It develops in a journey through many scenes, only partly imaginary, across Eastern Europe, and in the experiences of a young, only partly by chance, Muslin Bosnian man.

The CD you are about to listen contain a small but very representative example of the music performed, to a large extent revisions of folk songs from Eastern Europe, tracked down through exhaustive researches in international channels or in their places of origin.

The versions of the pieces proposed in the CD make use of the language of western music, still conserving, in most of cases, the original lyrics.

The Man from Bijelijna has become the main character of many legends handed down by word of mouth in the heart of the Balkans. We gathered a few in the enclosed leaflets.

Sniper's reasons

The lawyer had only just finished his cheese cream, and was sincerely grieved from what he had seen, heard and realized. His conscience prevented him from accept the fact that such beastly behavior could go on, and, had not be for various reasons (some real, some not) maybe he would not have restricted himself to try to understand.

"You see" he said "there must be something absolute on this earth, something that everyone who has a shred of decency would refuse to do. How can somebody hide himself for hours behind a rifle waiting only for a child to walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk?"

The man from Bijelijna took a quick drag on his cigarette and replied: "How would you know if that boy carries an hand grenade in his pocket? And how many times there was a knife buried under an old woman's gowns?"

"In that case I cannot accept the risk of murdering an innocent; I have the duty to accept the risk of dying myself, instead."

The man from Bijelijna sighed: "You may die all right, but they ordered that nobody can pass on that street, and if you disobey your orders, for whatever reason, maybe your folk will die too, and there is innocent people amongst them also. You must understand the Sniper's reasons."

A silence ensued, sudden and a lot less dramatic than their words. Then the Man from Bijelijna took his accordion and started to play a love song.

The flight.

They were returning from Azzano X and they felt a little excited. They had a great time playing in the market square, and the organizing committee hadn't scrimped on the beers. There was no particular reason, but the Man from Bijelijna felt, and not for the first time, very sad.

The lawyer did not succeed in changing the subject, and nostalgia relentlessly filled the compartment of the car that run into the night. Since the time he fled, hidden under the gowns of an old Serbian woman, on the bus that was leaving Bijelijna, he had never returned home, and now someone had told him he didn't have a home to get back to any more. According to the Dayton Agreement, the border line had been drawn too close to his place, and his village had ended up inside Serbian territory.

The war that, broken out when he was a little child, had thrown him across Europe, had also erased -- maybe forever -- a world that both of them had, of course in different ways, loved so much. The man from Bijelijna had seen worse, but the music and the moon were too heavy, and the lawyer wasn't able to find something definitely positive to put on the other pan of the scale.

It was only two months later, while he watched the Sea of Sicily, that the lawyer realized that they have become friends. The Man from Bijelijna instead had already left for Odessa, where he would have eventually earned the nickname of Zlatni Curac.


Ester had been a young Hebrew girl in Sevastopol, rescued from poverty - on a September evening of many years before - aboard a big, black car. The Gypsy who took her with him had soon handed her over to the keeper of a night-club in Odessa, and for her had begun a modest career as an entraineuse that after forty years had left her lonely and broke as before, though - as she used to say to the new girls - she never had to do anything to be ashamed of.

During her years in the U.R.S.S. at least she had to deal with high military ranks and Party officials; she once happened to dinner with Kosygin. But now that the Mafia had took over and the prices were so low, in the club entered every kind of customer.

Yet her main agony was Erosh, the Russian, the supervisor, the one who hurt. All the girls were afraid of him, when he approached smoking his cigarettes, black and slim, always impeccable, thin and inexpressive. With her he was even worse, because he never missed a chance to make her feel what she actually was: old and helpless.

The Man from Bijelijna understood all this from little details while he celebrated all the deals he had closed with the used cars, and he ate caviar on a table near the orchestra. Ester had seated a few minutes before to read the cards for him and to talk about Crimea. Erosh, as soon as he realized that this customer was going to spend a fortune, approached the table with some of his fresher Œflower', and, leaning on the table sporting his usual smile, offered them to him ordering the Œold whoreŒ to get lost.

Of course Erosh thought The Man from Bijelijna was joking when he commanded him to apologize to her, and answered laughing that he had certainly no intention to apologize to a whore. With a snap The Man from Bijelijna nailed the hand of the man to the table with his knife, and brought him to his knees pulling his tie.

Than he slowly left the club with the woman.

At the present Ester lives in Poland, and she is going to marry a Rabbi.

Davai Ciass

The Man from Bijelijna thought to stay just a few hours in Tirgu Jiu, barely enough to change oil and spark plugs on the car and to have something to eat. Instead the garage guy told him that the spare parts were not due to arrive till next morning, so he might as well take it easy. And as a matter of fact he quickly forgot his haste, strolling through the park, between the Door of the Kiss and the Table of Silence.

The huge Brancusi statues bore him company until dusk, when the wind carried the smell of gratar. There was a small restaurant nearby, where they served the usual mixed grill and mititei on a small cardboard tray. The meat, the people, the waitress' piggy eyes, the mending on the tablecloth, the white wine with the mineral water gave him an unexplainable sensation of calmness.

An old man sitting near him was watching the TV, laughing: a show from too many years ago seemed to amuse him. "Hey man," he said "do you know what ŒDavai ciass' means?" The Man from Bijelijna knew perfectly Russian, and then again he couldn't but now that phrase: ŒGive me your watch' is what the Russian soldiers said to the people they freed during their victorious advance through Europe.

"That guy" the old man went on, pointing a finger at the comic on TV "was very famous many years ago, you know. Then one day, Ceausescu was still in power," he whispered "he stepped in front of the cameras saying ŒThings were bad with Der Die Das (the Germans), but are a lot worse with Davai Ciass.' He's never been heard about since, and only now he's been released from jail."

The Man from Bijelijna smiled; he knew Rumanians all too well, and knew also that the story was true. He took his glass of Tuica, raised it to the sky and emptied it in a single gulp, while the moon light once again gave him its blessing.

Zlatni Curac

It wasn't just for the money that The Man from Bijelijna decided to leave for Odessa. On the contrary, that was merely an excuse to cross half of Europe just to see if something interesting happened; as it actually occurred.

He had the address of an old Hebrew, a used cars dealer, to whom he intended to sell a dozen of old Mercedes that one of his fellow villagers stocked in a warehouse in Trieste. He arrived, tired, in the dead of night, but at seven o'clock the next morning, a brand new shirt on, he was knocking at the Hebrew's door.

The negotiations were exhausting; the old man, starting from an unreasonable low offer, had finally started to raise the price, but he did so with unprecedented slowness, and though a good part of the day has passed he had not yet reached a reasonable threshold. The Man from Bijelijna was distracted by the old man's younger daughter, who kept on entering the room, for sure more times than necessary, to bring something to drink or eat, or simply to bring in documents and other papers.

Eventually the Hebrew managed to fetch a price far lower than the car actual value, and after putting the money and the car logbooks back into his safe, he invited the young man to stay behind to sleep at his house.

But The Man from Bijelijna's business misfortune didn't last long: after he spent the night in his guest daughter's bed, she loved him so much that she opened up the safe to repay him. And she was still weeping bitter tears when he lied assuring her he would come back.

The corn dealer

Route E85, on the first tract from Bucharest northbound, is long an tedious; The Man from Bijelijna was driving half-stretched in a cold late-September afternoon. The girl was sleeping on the back seat with a blanket laid on her shoulders, heedless of the music that come from the radio. She didn't even realize that, along one of the many straights, the car started to slow down until it finally stopped. The Man from Bijelijna, somehow annoyed, started checking under the hood, just to discover that there was no chance the car could start again.

Somewhere back down the road he had seen a farm, so he made his way back along the way he had just covered. In the main building, behind a solid wood desk, there was a man of undefinable age, with greying sideburns and -- he later discovered -- an almost endless polemic spirit. The desk was covered from side to side by documents and authoritative-looking books, most of them written in Cyrillic. The man didn't even want to hear his story, but invited him to sit down in a big, dark-red armchair, and prepared the tea, that they drunk the Russian way, with a sugar lump between the teeth.

In a few minutes they were already discussing heatedly. "Art, my dear man, is essentially balance." The Man from Bijelijna couldn't agree, and objected quoting Majakovskij: "Art is a hammer to change the world, not a mirror to reflect it." Yet the other insisted: "Your is a childish attitude: partiality and passion are the levers that move the artist, but accomplished art is an entirely different thing."

Two hours later they were still discussing animatedly; suddenly the younger man asked: "Can you borrow me a car?" "I'm sorry" replied the other "you won't have anything from me but my tea." The Man from Bijelijna took out the wire he carried in his jeans' pocket and in a few minutes tied the man to his chair; in one of the desk drawers he found the key of a black Russian car, and a small amount of money in cash. While he was leaving the other man was looking at him with no fear in his eyes: he had won anyway. But after a little while The Man from Bijelijna returned back to the room, just to write on the wall, with a red paint aerosol bomb he had found in the garage: "The actual duty of art is bring chaos into order. T.W.Adorno."

The announcer

After his story with Ester, The Man from Bijelijna thought he had better hide for a while at a distant relative of him who lived not far from the town of Chrzanow in Poland; this man not only welcomed him heartily (probably because he didn't tell him in detail of his outstanding accounts with the Russian mafia), but he even found him a job for the season at an engineering industry in Krakow.

It was on the train that led him to and fro that he met for the first time the announcer. She always sat at the same seat, staring outside the window, a raincoat over her shoulders and clutching a magazine he never saw her read. She was a shy, shabby-looking girl, who lived in a small flat at the third floor of a public housing building, for many years divided between a part-time job and a novel she would never finish. The Man from Bijelijna started talking to her for fun, and went on out of curiosity, every day between 20,15 and 20,54.

Sometime, when he was lying, smoking, in his bed he found himself playing in his head with the announcer's image, undecided about what to do with it. The thought she shared with him weren't too much banal, but The Man from Bijelijna couldn't remember them the day after, because he was too much charmed and distracted by the transparent normality of her behavior.

Suddenly he realized he couldn't go on like that: his own nature ordered him to do something, so one day he decided to act unfairly, and spy on her through the key-hole. When one evening she left her purse unattended he did non hesitate to search in it, greedily.

Inside he found a strangely shaped, blood-stained ring, a small jack-knife with a few eyelashes clinging to the blade, and a fair number of live snails. It was the last time he saw her, but no one knows which one changed train.

Eth(n)ic cleansing and replicants

The Man from Bijelijna was back in Sarajevo for the first time after the peace, and didn't feel too much like joking. He was seating on a small table outside a bar on Bascarsija, sipping a Turkish coffee.

Hadn't be for his grandmother pension, he wouldn't ever come back in this city, the young and radiant lover of his memories, now turned into a sick and old woman who strives hard along the road of an improbable return to everyday life. He made his way aimlessly along the slope that lead to the old Muslim Cemetery, and very soon he lost his way in the narrow neighborhood streets.

Suddenly he woke from his thoughts in front of the yellow wall of Goran Dasic's house; somebody had written on it ŒRemember Jasenovac', and other nasty things. The Man from Bijelijna, without giving it too much thought, grabbed the rag and the bucket the woman from a nearby store had laid beside her door, and started bleaching the wall.

Of course in a few minutes a couple of boys arrived behind his back and started: "Hey, brother, what the fuck are you doing?"

That was his people and Goran was long dead, but he had been his accordion teacher, and a war was not enough for him to forget him. "Brother, what the fuck are you doing?" they repeated, and it was clear there was more fuck than brother.

The Man from Bijelijna slowly turned around and glanced at them: the leaden sky and the rain that was starting to fall made him look even more like Roy Batty on the building top, and one could almost hear his voice say "I have seen things you people wouldn't believe...."

But if he said that he said with his eyes only, and the two boys went away, leaving him to finish his job.


He met Gita during a brief stop at the bar in a service station along the road that leads from Varna to Dobric and Costanza, while she was looking for a ride northbound.

Born and raised in Pirin, Macedonia, after three years of study at Sofia University she had ended up working during summers as a waitress in tourist Hotels, to pay for studies she didn't feel like finishing anymore; yet before going back to the Capital she had in mind to pay her older brother a visit, in Suceava, where he run a meat canning facility.

In Dobric he gave her a lipstick, in Costanza a skirt and after that a brand new pair of shoes, that she left under the table in the restaurant near the docks where they stopped to have a meal. Dark-haired Bulgar women, it's known, prefer walking around bare-footed when they're sad or drunk, and she didn't feel sad.

When they got to the Ambassador in Mamaia (129 rooms, all with bathroom facilities) where they intended to get down to it, they were laughing and talking so wildly that, hadn't The Man from Bijelijna asked for a penthouse, probably the Receptionist would have asked them to live instead of smiling conspiratorially. In the off-season Mamaia is tormenting and longing like a Macedonian ballad in 7/8. When the first light of dawn woke him, he was basking in Gita's warmth, in her scent and in the almost imperceptible sound of her breathing.

No one on earth could have relinquished the tepidness of those sheets and the sweetness of that touch, disinterested and ingenuous like any real abandon, but The Man from Bijelijna rose and calmly walked out on the balcony.

In the faint glimmer of a sun that hadn't yet cleared the horizon, The Man from Bijelijna tried to remember the name of the man who had blown up, for a 100$ reward, the Mostar bridge.

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