|Following a sort of, shall we say, a friendly match between the band Zabranjeno pušenje and the Zagreb Mosque Choir Arabeske, which resulted in the soundtrack for the movie Nafaka of a Bosnian and Herzegovinian director Jasmin Duraković, one rock band and a couple of girls of divine voices continue to explore what only an ignorant fool or a complete prick would consider – incompatible. |
Prejudices usually pose a bigger problem to those who make such judgements, but to the ones they refer to. While there is no point, thus, explaining it to the former, to the latter it is perfectly clear that rock music and Islamic culture can very well function together, especially if they emanate from the point where their influences intertwine, identities combine, and different folk traditions resemble one another more than sometimes one would be prepared to admit.
Davor Sučić, founder of Zabranjeno pušenje, has already been incorporating ilahija – Islamic religious songs – in musical arrangements for his own band. The songs Test za džennet (Test for Heaven) and Lijepa Alma (Pretty Alma) before, and Domovina (Homeland) and Laku noć stari (Good Night, Old Man) after the “film” collaboration with Arabeske, can be regarded as, to use a football analogy, strength trainings for Shaderwan Code - the album that harbours, in just the right proportion, folk tradition of the Western Balkans, Islamic poetics of the Bosnians and Bosnian Muslims, a concept of rock and roll as primarily progressive music open to various music influences, but also a classic jazz sound, which wouldn’t be possible without improvisations of excellent musicians. However, without those luxurious vocals all this would have remained, of course, yet another good idea. Featuring of the girls from Arabeske made the album a complete whole, which will be appreciated by all those who have enjoyed the songs of Šaban Bajramović and Mostar Sevdah Reunion or sevdalinka songs from old vinyl records, whose crackling had rather tickled the ear than obstructed the joy of listening to the vocals of great Bosnian singers.
Not conforming to the concept that certain traditional values exclusively belong to the ones born and raised upon them, Zabranjeno pušenje and Arabeske bring about a CD, which beside its musical value, also has another, not so much a political one, but rather a (inter)human value, showing that differences do not necessarily have to live their separate lives one beside the other, but rather one with another, as they complement each other and create, in this case, a new sound.
In the real world, there is no worse combination than excess patriotism – that last sanctuary of scoundrels, if you know what I mean – and lack of talent. Ilahija and kasida, and to a lesser part sevdalinka, fell victim at one moment – what am I saying, it has been so for years! – to those who were compensating their belated national enthusiasm by combining divine songs that please the God’s ear with their own synthesizer and rhythm machine aesthetics, fouling beautiful verses with strokes of barbarism in the name of patriotism. Luckily, now we are in times when things are being connected by emotionality, not duty. That compound of emotions that has nothing to do with clichés of bridges between the East and the West, whatsoever – feelings, namely, do not need compass – is the one that ties Zabranjeno pušenje and Arabeske together. This is why a man while listening to, say, the song Behar, is feeling restless inside, but cannot explain to himself, let alone to others, what had struck him. He only knows that every itch is worth something much bigger than us, as a poet once said, small under the heavens vast.
This CD is valuable - not only because it shows that Sejo Sexon is a rock and roll poet and a great musician, that one band is worth more than one is willing to admit, and that the choir of the Zagreb Mosque actually is an assembly of people whose emotions could not have been killed – but because it shows that beauty, wherever it may come from, belongs to everybody. Whereas, simply put, no one needs ugliness.
Nor the God, nor the folk, as it is said in Bosnia.