Alexander Sopchek - Masks
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Alexander Sopchek
Masks

In the lineage of Sun Ra, Fela and other unclassifiable artists, a musician from Beograd constructs his own sonic universe, rooted in the rhythms of Africa and branching out into future jazz. 7 tracks, no pigeonholes.

Listen:
Destiny Dawn
Vugo

Produced, arranged, composed and performed by Alexander Sopchek.
Masks is entirely dedicated to Africa, particularly Kenya and Tanzania. All the tracks are based on original local stories and are almost short documentaries. Sopcheck's approach to African music is the most original I've heard so far. Although everything sounds so fresh, full of Jazz, Funk and even Drum'n Bass, he succeeds in preserving the roots and original African atmosphere. None of the styles prevails. Everything is blended nicely into an original and from now on very recognizable Sopchek style. - Zeljko Kerleta 2000

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COOLEST PLACE ON THE PLANET? Move over, Oslo. Come in Belgrade. Yep, hours of fun here at JW playing 'spot the sample' on the inspirational, African chant-inspired Masks from Alexander Sopchek. Gleaming freshly cut nu-jazz out of eastern Europe by way Cosmic Sounds London (a label better known to jazz fans for it's superb sides by Dusko Gojkovic). Check it out... - Jazzwise

File under clever bastard beatnik shit, or something this is an oddity. Sopchek is throwing a virtual party in his studio just outside Belgrade, Yugoslavia. He has invited African pygmies, a witch doctor, half a Kenyan tribe, a jazz group with brass section and a set of pedigree drum loops. In other words this is a solo album cunningly assembled from scraps and samples by a producer who loves jazz and African music. Now my theory is that if you work in this way, your music will ultimately be banal, but Sopchek has so much flair and sheer, big hearted vibe that he comes within a hair's breadth of proving me wrong. The album is infectious. It's a world away from the unspeakable Deep Forest. Perfect for your next loud party, especially if you're inviting clever bastard beatniks. -Clive Bell, Wire

Tracks:
01 DESTINY DAWN (Song of courage)
02 COCONUT (Man must work in order to be strong)
03 AKAMBA (Witch doctor)
04 ERASTO (The thief was finaly arrested)
05 VUGO (Wedding)
06 DODO (Funeral dance)
07 INTO THE NIGHT (Evil ones Are drawn out)

Press from the record label:
Inspired by Fela, Sun Ra, DJ Shadow and pygmy melodies, Alexander Sopchek forges a new sound for a borderless future. The realization of a musical dream over 20 years in the making, MASKS arrives ahead of its time. Who'd have thought that the deepest African record in recent memory would arise from the Belgrade (as in Serbia) suburbs?

Sopchek hacks through preconceived musical notions like a machete through the jungle underbrush, clearing new paths of sonic discovery. From the opening murmurs of "Destiny Dawn", MASKS builds into a hypnotrance soul vamp. African roots rhythms propel a soiree of triphop tribal jazz. Oblique saxophones, silhouetted guitar riffs, and otherworldly incantations set the groovy vibe, explored thoroughly by Sopchek in his successful quest to create a stylistically diverse yet fully integrated musical landscape.

Each of MASKS' seven tracks is intended as a short documentary based on original local lore from Kenya and Tanzania. True to his vision, Sopchek conjures vivid images of fevered rituals honoring the ancients—ceremonies practiced nightly in the sacred shrines of East Africa and the West Village.

About the artist:
Sopchek was born on 14th May 1960 in Zemun . Plays guitar since he was 14. First influence was Carlos Santana. At 18 he started playing live with well known Yugoslavian Jazz musicians like Stjepko Gut, Misha Krstic, Jovan Maljokovic, Misha Blam, Milosh Petrovic… During 1982 he played drums in Jazz trio with Misha Krstic. At that time he enrolled Academy of Fine Artsin Belgrade. Academy had at that time one of leading clubs in Belgrade where he was involved as an organizer and participant of Jazz sessions. He was also producing in his studio many at that time unknown and now established bands and musicians in all kind of music styles. In 1988 he finished his first project called "Between New Delhi & New York". Entire album was composed, produced and played by Sopchek In August 1988 he went to Canada where he made Art-Music project "Indian Summer". Also in Toronto in his own production he made several documentaries. One of them was shown on Ontario TV and another was shown at Belgrade's Festival of Documentary and Ethno Films, 2000.

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