The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Low Culture

Organic Intelligence VII: Post-Tito Yugoslavian Pop
The Quietus , March 24th, 2022 08:55

In our subscriber only series, Adrian Flanagan salutes his family roots in Yugoslavia with a selection of bangers

VideoSex

We’re not luddites, we just feel you deserve better than some unsatisfying algorithmical advice when it comes to music. This is the seventh edition of our Low Culture subscriber’s newsletter, Organic Intelligence, which features tQ’s favourite people taking a deep dive into their record collections to offer you DJ bag gold, Discogs bargains and all-back-to-mine nuggets. This month electronic pop conceptualist Adrian Flanagan unearths five gems from the world of post-General Tito Yugoslavian pop. You can listen to the seventh Organic Intelligence playlist on Spotify, Apple and Tidal (and remember that all your monthly playlists, as well as your exclusive essays, can be found on the Low Culture Quietus page). To get access to the Organic Intelligence newsletter, you need to sign up to our subscriber system via the Steady checkout below.

Listen to the Organic Intelligence Post-Tito Yugoslavian Pop Playlist on Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal

In between writing and recording concept records with Eccentronic Research Council and Maxine Peake; touring disco music with International Teachers Of Pop; and (with The Moonlandingz) trying to beat The Stone Roses' frankly pathetic five-year record for the most disappointing and overdue follow-up album in the history of rock; as a ‘nose thumb’ to everything that Brexit stands for, and with the ugly rise of nationalism on this pathetic floating turd of an isle, I recently formed a Sheffield-based DJ collective called, Outernational Yorkshire.

Outernational Yorkshire is an unpretentious antidote to all of the chin scratching, beardy, elitist, IPA-sweating, serious, crate-digging snob bullies. It's a night where the music we play is often sourced (like everyone else does) from Bandcamp, late night stoned YouTube wormholes, the remembered soundtracks of 18-30 package holiday discotheques and European flea markets (which I would visit on live tours of the EU). When on tour I might pick out a couple of random albums from a misshapen washing basket off the curb of some brutalist car park based on cover art alone. Our main focus is playing foreign language global music of all genres that’s often a little wayward, eccentric, could be deemed novelty, but is always really, really good. On the whole it’s got to be music you can dance to, tunes where people are left with a smile on their faces or a little fire in their bellies. You can’t dance to avant Polish jazz. I’ve tried, I looked daft.

For this piece I’ve been asked to write about a micro-genre I love, unfortunately though my now very apparently ADHD brain refuses to do something so regimented as ‘pick a genre’. So the closest I could get is "Post-Tito Yugoslavian Pop".

Why Yugoslavia? Well, my late Grandmother Rosa was born in a cinema in Novi Sad in the old Yugoslavia (now Serbia) in the 1920s – whilst said cinema was on fire. Her father was the cinema's projectionist and her mother was just waiting for a film to end, legs parted over a couple of dusty chairs whilst people ran screaming from the stalls of the burning auditorium – as my Gran's head popped out and gave everyone a cheeky wink. What a way to enter the world: I certainly aspire to leave this twisted and crippled coil in the very same fashion.

My Gran spoke 12 languages; she was the free-est of spirits; she was eccentric, funny and dangerous – she wouldn’t think twice (or even look) when crossing a road in front of moving vehicles. "Ah shaddup – they got brakes!" she would drawl with her deep eastern European twang as cars slammed in to the back of each other. One thing she instilled in me was to only do what I want to do, so here I am trying my best to both toe and cross the line, like a good communist descendent.

Bebi Dol – 'Mustafa' (1981)

Belgrade Singer Dragana Šarić started out primarily as a backing singer on other peoples records in the late 70s but her fortunes changed when she had this slightly awkward hit in Yugoslavia in 1981, 'Mustafa'. I first heard this Middle-Eastern sounding slow hump of a record a few years ago in a bar in Tel Aviv and fell completely in love with it. It throbs and is quite possibly the sexiest feminist record ever made. Part of the lyrics that she sings to Mustafa (the male protagonist of the song) are something like "forget those European women with flower pots on their heads who shamelessly have sex". Indeed.

VideoSex – 'Detektivska priča' from VideoSex (1984)

Another corker, this one from Slovenian subversive synth poppers VideoSex who’s name was coined by Dejan Knez from fellow musical shit stirrers Laibach. I don’t know much about them but I like this track.

U Škripcu – 'Nove Godine' (1983)

U Škripcu, or In Dire Straits as they would be known in English, were formed in Belgrade in 1980. I think this record came out in 1983 and brings to mind Pulp's 'Common People' with its jaunty bass & drums intro – even the guitar parts sound like Sheffield. I also like a man who can’t really sing but gobs off all the same like he means it. And oh my, what fabulous lyrics! "At midnight I'll be there making love to you. At midnight make a wish, I'm your Santa Claus!"

Doris Bizetić Nygrin – 'I’m Still There' from Intimate Details (2004)

Some of my favourite singers can suitably be described as idiosyncratic outsider artist who is heroically camp with unrealistic life goals in show business (like me) – and none tick those boxes more than ‘Our Doris’. Dozza is certainly more of a modern phenomenon of Serbian outsider pop than the rest of the tracks here. She’s got the moves, she’s got the grooves and she’s drunk and the last one to leave yer mates awful wedding. Enjoy.

Boban Petrović – 'Djuskaj' from Žur (1981)

Taken from ex-disc jockey Boban Petrović’s 1981 debut solo album Žur – is this stone cold disco groover ‘Djuskaj'. It's good for an 'air frug' and sounds a bit like a man shouting "JUICE GUY" a lot over funky bass with occasional brass stabs. I think General Tito would have loved it.

For more details of Adrian Flanagan's solo album under the moniker Acid Klaus, follow him here