“Slowly will cover us
The soft dirt of this world”
In our mutual memory the 70’s are considered as one of the most important decades of historical changes and emancipation not just in politics but also in the culture of Mankind. They are the top years of cultural fermentation that encouraged movements of the late 60’s.
Among them we can mention the further emancipation of women and the rights of black people, protests against the war in Vietnam and its ending, raising of environmental issues, the Watergate scandal, Iranian Revolution, Afghanistan invasion from the Soviet Union as well as the death of F. Franco. While in Albania, Communism was adding isolation doses after breaking its diplomatic relation with the Soviets and establishing a relation with China.
In terms of art, music in particular, things get more complicated because of the various experiments made with the rhythm, sound and lyrics. Rock’n’Roll cuts to just Rock. Rock then transforms further by becoming gentile at times and other times rough such as: Hard Rock, Progressive Rock and Heavy Metal.
Among the most famous names of this novelty we can mention Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Uriah Heep, Queen, The Who and Judas Priest. There is also the emerging of various music trends arising from the conception of Melodic-Rhythm such as Funk, Disco Music, Jamaican Reggae and Jazz-Rock. From the Proto-punk of the ‘60 comes out Punk-Rock with names such as Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, Sex Pistols, The Clash etc.
During these years, over the same cause at age 27 dies Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison and E. Presley-of a bit of an older age. Dylan comes out with a long lasting song “Knocking on Heavens Door ” and at the end of 70’s we have his soulful reborn of Christianity since he goes back to the new testament lyrics of Biblical characters. Another important event was the release of Pink Floyd’s most significant album “Dark Side of the Moon”.
In 1978 comes out F. de Andre’s ninth album called “Rimini”, marked by political disappointments of those years and the treatment of all time historical characters of his life and art as marginalized people, prostitutes and drug addicts. Another feature of this album is the first introduction of two instrumental parts. El Topo is a film by Alejandro Jodorowsky that comes out during these years. Ranked by critiques as a Cult film and characterized by strange stories and just as strange characters, El Topo on the whole, is a movie about the search for the meaning of life.
I am quite sure that you are thinking to yourself “What does the whole preface have to do with the Alikça Problem”. In fact, there might and might not have anything to do with it but, what difference does it make already. We thought to over extend these explanations a bit since, the album that we want to talk about is an evidence of complex histories which, just like pieces of a puzzle, shape up a complete personal story, family one, social and above all universal story.
Beginning from the “Best music” format which is an EP (extended play) that wants to be something in the middle between a long Album record and a Single. EP was first used by Punk and Indie bands, currents which inspired Aliçka.
The Aliçka Problem, active over many years now, are an Albanian-German band from Mannheim (Germany) first formed in 2008. Band members are Julia Aliçka-Berthold (bass-vocal), Daniel Mudrack(drums) and Joni Aliçka (guitar-vocal).
Up to today they released a Demo-CD in 2010, “Strange periods of our lives should last forever“, an album in 2012 titled “Xor” as well as the album “Best music” which was released on Oct. 25th, of this year.
For those who prefer definitions, ladies and gentleman they do shoegaze, post-punk, post-rock, progressive-rock and psychedelic-rock. Under their influences, which appear to be quite multiple ones, are aligned P. F, Dylan, F. de Andre, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and the devil knows why, Phil Selway (Radiohead ). In fact taxonomy used as the definition of their music does not work in the case of this group since the prefix “Post” is a neatly successful overcome of the currents that they were influenced by.
Since the “Xor” album, which was released on 2012, is noted as a unique character of their music for their compact and dense sounds, conceived by the combination of polite times, sometimes conflictual between Bass vibration and the impose order required by the electric guitar. Just like what Joni calls it, “Xor” is their first child, with a futurist name as an expression of opinion disagreements, like a dialectic process in a spiral form that goes all the way up by creating more and more sublime sounds.
Their first song “Train” is a never ending crescendo similar to a train journey, which after it comes out of the station, continues to increase its speed and reduces it again when getting closer to the next station. The best tradition of the past has its tracks in this album and it comes as a mix between punk and electric simplicity without ever forgetting the hidden sounds that seem to stay in the background, which bring to mind the sounds of Pink Floyd with its smart and postmodern effects.
Lyrics remain a mistery yet to be decoded.
While “Best Music” is a different story told with an almost parental care, right from the beginning it took the status of a caressed sister by its creators. A complex product that comes as a mix of sounds and different influences, which give it a strong and independent character. Personal history and not only, that take universal forms addressed to everyone as derived from vital moments that belong to everyone.
The Aliçka Problem band is described by the critiques as a rare band of European post-rock. Their exotic origin and the multidimensional connections of elements in the music that they put in, it sure gives them the right to grant this title. The whole album comes as a full breathing without any breaks. It starts and it ends as a Single song keeping your nerves shun until the end. Everything is so similar to an old story, told with different tonalities according to tensions that the event carried inside.
After each Crescendo of the key concept of The Aliçka Problem, comes a sweet diminuendo which balances the whole melodic and conceptual building. Very few albums can have such characteristics, thus, only the Dark Side of the Moon can meet these criteria. Another interesting element of this album is its cover, with an appearance of two siblings pointing guns at each other, one dressed in white and the other one in black, colors which personify the good and evil.
The album starts with an instrumental part, “Strange periods of our lives should last forever“, a remake of the 2010 demo and it ends with “White”, an apocalyptic lyrics which talks about an even more apocalyptic period, this time of the life of our population.
The first chapter of the story, Strange Periods of Our Life Should Last Forever (Instrumental), is a post rock part combined with classic-rock, with an acceleration of breathing that evokes the nostalgia of “Breath” of the Dark Side of the Moon. On the same perspective and sound-issuing stands the second instrumental “16 Raised Our Children” with their noises that reminds you of Speak to Me. Where as “Arabiqum”, a mystical and an exotic fusion of sounds Post “Time”, seems like an ecco that comes from far away in the space.
Southern Soldier is the second song of the album. Demanding lyrics in the form of poetic denunciation which touches complex social and political problems.
The song is closely related to the tragedy of March 12th, 2009 in Winnenden (near Stuttgart, Germany) where a high school student (Tim K.) takes his fathers gun and kills 16 students, the police and in the end himself. The tragedy continues, with subsequent events such as jail trial of father Tim K. and his treatment as a criminal (since he did not keep his weapon away from his son). The lyrics seems to be written by two different hands, one by the father ‘s point of view, and the other one by the son’s point of view. His father’s words:
“If you’d ask me, i would give you,
the right tools to make them bleed.
Bleed ’till their death”
The reason for writing this song is certainly not one of the romance world thoughts of a 17 year old, but in order to ask some questions of how the public opinion (and justice) treats such complex cases. How right is to have a lonely 17 year old kid, isolated and “alienated” in the history of crimes who took the lives of 16 people? Who is that morality of the society who puts down a couple of punches to a face that is already lying on the ground (penalty of the Tim K.’s father with 7 years of imprisonment for “manslaughter”)?
And many other questions that maybe are not so closely linked to the event in question, but you can put your finger on the demolition of structures in the family, in society or religion… A repeatable story, deniable rights, untold stories which want to come out in the light but that this society, just like the previous ones, in one way or another, doesn’t see them as worthy to talk about!
The fourth song“ Milk”, which also has a very interesting videoclip, is the most “aggressive” song of the album. In the first Riffs of the song you can feel a deep alternative spirit which then changes its form as it approaches the chorus. As per the verses, you can feel the shadow of Fabrizio De Andre in the song called “Sally“.
The girl with a face of the sun and shinny hair and the impact of HM close at the 16 year old kids while they hear the shoegaze by Slowdive. This is the story told by Milk. All of it written from the perspective of a girl who is going through her first experiences in her life together with all the contradictions that it carries.
Sally has a similar flow too, its again a girl who is away from her family and experiences the rite of entering in the real world, where she comes across drugs, prostitution and violence. Pilars character is taken from “One hundred years fo solitude” while “The kind of rats” from the movie El Topo by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
My mother told me not
To go out in the Woods
With the boys of my neighbourhood
Nobody had shown me
All the forbidden things
That girls have to do
Opium is the penultimate song. This title, in fact, for a careless mind (like the rest of the songs of the album and the album title itself) would be prejudicial to all text. Sound rages are recalled from a song in Southern Albania, from the song “O njëzetë e pesë gërsheta”– (eng. “O twenty five braidings). At the start of the song you can feel a bit of trip-hop in the style of Portishead but afterwards Crescendo changes its sound flow taking us to a different dimension-progressive-rock.
The final song of the album is“White”. Apocalyptic lyrics taken from the poem “Epopeja e Ballit Kombëtar” (eng. Epopee of the National Front) by Shefqet Musaraj. One of the most successful after war pieces of all times. A combination of sarcasm and the realistic description of the situation of the bourgeoisie of the time represented by “Ballists” (eng. The National Front) who instead of being the history-makers chose to become history’s sufferers and invaders tools.
Two verses of the song (English):
Slowly will cover us
The soft dirt of this world
The legs will stand up
To beat up, destroy the head
Turn your back to your old friend
Let’s take his soul away
Otherwise we’re gone away
The only friend we had
Two verses of the song (Albanian):
“Do na mbulojnë
Plehrat e tokës,
Do ngrihen kembet
T’i bien kokës.
T’i kthejme krahët
Mikut që patmë
T’i marrem xhanë
Se ndryshe vamë…”
You can follow The Aliçka Problem in their Official Faceboook Page
First published in Albanian language on Tirana Calling under the title The Aliçka Problem: “Periudhat e çuditshme te jetës tonë duhet të zgjasin përgjithmonë”
This article is also published in Italian language under the title The Aliçka Problem: “I periodi strani della nostra vita dovrebbero durare per sempre”
Translated by Saranda Shala