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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Salonski - Fauna

I’m finally writing about a band that’s not only still active but also Slovenian! Isn’t that something? But seriously, I’m actually really happy to be writing about someone I personally know for a change. Two of my good friends are in a somewhat obscure Slovenian band, called Salonski. Two months ago they released their debut album ‘Fauna’ which made me take on this post. At first I was a bit unsure how to go about it - should I try to be as objective as possible or not? In the end I decided I’m just going to write what I think and not worry about being biased (which I know I will be).

The band went through a lot of member changes through the years, but currently consists of Domen Finžgar (accordion, vocals), Ines Vodopija (piano), Jana Arlič (violin), Larisa Petrič (violin), Miha Hafner (french horn), Miha Poredoš (ukulele) and Žiga Barba (trombone).
Domen, who is the leader and the driving force of the band, never fails to amaze me. It seems creativity is oozing out of his every pore. Besides being a musician, he’s a composer (the whole album is composed by him), a great comic author and a game designer. On top of his constant artistic outputs, he’s also a hard working student of Forestry at University in Ljubljana. The variety of his interests shows that he has countless ideas and that he doesn’t want to be bound to just one way of sharing them. And it’s not just the sheer number of the projects he takes on, it’s the eagerness and confidence with which he executes them, that is impressive. Fauna, of course, is no exception. Check out his tumblr, to see and follow his other projects.
He managed to put together a great band, without which he wouldn’t be able to get his point across quite as powerfully. All of them are actually an inspiration to me - everytime I listen to the album I can’t believe that this unique piece of music was created by a group of students for whom music is just something they do on the side.

You can listen to Fauna on this link, where you can also purchase it.

From the first time I heard they’re recording an album, I could hardly wait for it and then, when I could finally give it a listen, I was thoroughly impressed. From the first few seconds of the album, when Domen’s accordion warmly backs his vocals, I was already digging it and after the whole band joins in, I knew I was in for something great. I’m glad to say, I wasn’t mistaken.
Photo by Sabina Pirnat
The album is truly amazing. Its genres range from folk, etno, doo wop to rap, cajun and tango, while its inspirations reach even broader. It’s very easy to listen to and its strongest point, I believe, is that it is so incredibly comforting. Not everything is executed with perfection and some parts are modest, but through that it shows the honesty and unpretentiousness of the whole band. They love what they’re doing and they play from their heart, which always shines through. The great, unusual instrument selection gives the album its warm sound. And I must say, no drums is a welcome change from what we’re used to hearing every day. The melodies are earthy and the phrases are often simple, but never boring or predictable. Finžgar’s vocals are raw and somewhat unpolished but sincere, absolutely convincing and warm.
As I’ve said, the range of inspirations is vast and impressive. I love how Domen in his songs takes a piece of an inspiration, blatantly uses it, but adds his own perspective and makes it completely his own. He really has a knack for combining all kinds of genres.
He says that for most compositions he originates from his accordion playing and draws from there. This makes accordion central part of Fauna, which is just great, since Domen knows how to squeeze all the good juices out of his instrument and bring out the best in it. Other instruments at times sound like extensions or assets to his own playing, and it sounds perfect - listen to Shruti Box and Early Riser. For the other part they provide a reliable background and simply weave the fabric of music, which, in essence, makes this album what it is.

The first song, ‘Ljubezen delala’ was where Domen tried interpreting the songs differently for the first time (which is why it was chosen to be the first track). He combined ‘She thinks I still Care’ and a song he and Žiga heard in Slovenian countryside, performed by a random stranger. Please listen to ‘She thinks I still Care’, just to hear how skillfully it’s crafted into ‘Ljubezen delala’.
I wanted to just mention the next song, ‘Tango za mentalno mrtve’ (Tango for the mentally dead), because of the source of the lyrics. They borrowed it from song by Gravediggaz, 1-800 Suicide (2:45). When you go through the whole album and search for all the different inspirations it’s amazing to think how they pulled it off. Gravediggaz is just one example.
And my two favourite songs (well technically, three) on the album are ‘V Calgaryu ni letališča’ and ‘Shruti Box’ with ‘Early Riser’. The first one’s lyrics are really touching and strong and the whole song is in sync with that. I’m touched every time I listen to it. ‘Shruti Box’ + ‘Early Riser’ on the other hand, are just great to listen to. I appreciate the development or the storytelling aspect to it.
At this point, I’d like to apologize to all my english speaking readers, since some lyrics are in slovene and I’m not translating them. I hope this won’t deter you from listening to the album.

I’ll finish the post here, since I don’t want it to go on for too long. I am considering writing another one about Fauna, going more into the specific songs and talking about the genius usage and blend of different inspirations in them. I’m not sure though, we’ll see.

Your comments are, as always, much appreciated. Until next time.