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Zlatko Kaučič: Emigrants

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A 2011 winner of the Prešern Fund Award, the most prestigious cultural achievement award in Slovenia, Zlatko Kaučič is a masterful percussionist. In his recording, Emigrants, he dashes expectations that a solo percussion recording might invite. He shows no trepidations in unconventionally combining conventional media. He borrows from many cultures to create a fulfilling, vibrant sonic parade.

His musical concerns are built on pitch and timbre. His own voice becomes an instrument in the opening title piece as thoroughly as the exotic instruments he plays in the recording. The instrument line-up includes gongs, ground drums, flutes, the kalimba-like marimbula and sansula, Glockenspiel and those he has made himself.

Kaučič cultivates juxtaposing complementary sounds to develop as many variations of the percussive landscape which lies before him. Most of the tracks develop subtle musical lines which stretch the media he is using into extremely fluid textural expressions of atmosphere and aura. How he plays avoids all crashing and rocking out and inserts elfin-like character into a context, which, according to the titles of the songs, describes grave circumstances, as in “Song of a Humiliated People.”

Although rhythmic statements constitute the very process of the music, sometimes as if a clock were ticking faster than time passes, Kaučič is telling stories of peoples who want “out” of wherever they are. With every hit on a metal gong or pluck of a marimbula key, bow on the edge of a cymbal, caress of a drum skin, stroke across the chimes or the tinkling the bars of the glock, the motion from one sound to another suggests slight agitation, desire for change, and finally the egress: Emigration. “Boat of Hope” is a destination, replete with joy, shifting rhythms and dancing in search of another destination, more grounded, yet mysterious.

Originally Published