The first I heard of Serbian musician Mitar Subotic was when I interviewed Gigi Masin almost two years ago. Tako (of Red Light Records) had introduced Subotic`s music to Gigi, and Gigi subsequently was recommending it to me. Gigi described it as “some of the most incredible and talented music I’ve ever heard”. I`d gone looking for information but all I could find was one Youtube clip. So when Basso (from The Growing Bin) emailed me last week and mentioned that he had a handful of copies of a Subotic re-issue in stock, immediately he had one less for sale.
“In The Moon Cage” represents Subotic`s earliest recordings, produced under his “Rex Illusivii” alias (“King of Illusion” in latin), and a set which secured him a UNESCO cultural award that in turn allowed him to travel and build a successful career as a producer in Brazil. In Brazil he worked with local artists such as Bebel Gilberto, until his untimely death in a studio fire in 1999. German label Offen, with links to Dusseldorf`s Salon Des Amateurs, has access to Subotic`s archives from 1980-1991 and further releases are promised.
It was the voices that grabbed me, drew me in. Subotic`s use of Serbian lullabies had me digging out an old Sainkho Namtchylak CD to check the comparisons that were going on in my head. Contemporizing the overtone singing of nomads and shamen, Sainkho hails from Tuva in Southern Serbia, on the Northern border of Mongolia. Both Sainkho and “In The Moon Cage” also seemed to display similarities with Japanese shimauta singer Ikue Asazaki and started me wondering how people and music might have migrated out, from Serbia in central Asia, how they might be related to the history and culture of the Southern islands of Japan. A common ancestry perhaps, betrayed phonetically. The thought served as a reminder that all language must share a root, which is important to hold onto when I often feel its divide here in my own lodgings within the Tower of Babel.
Musically there are six electro-acoustic landscapes that light out for a geography between Finis Africae, Edward Artemiev`s charting of Andrey Tarkovsky`s Zone, the dark waters of O Yuki Conjugate and Holger Czukay & Rolf Dammer`s “Canaxis 5” (whose sampled Vietnamese boat woman further illustrates this linguistic bond). Psychedelic Folk, with the odd loon bird flown in. The Art Of Noise into battle, beaten. A sadness of strings which burdens the air with the weight of the fallen, and the resolve of those that remain.