Strange Incidents in the Court of King Simon

The Liquified Throne of Simplicity

Sleeve art-wise, an over-botoxed shark (?) with piercing, headlamped eyes welcomes you to the worldview of Širom, a Slovakian Slovenian trio where intimations of their being “an unplugged Faust”, while also displaying hints of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Don Cherry’s multi-cultural period, can’t fail to spark the curiosity of even the most ennui-stricken audiophile. A trio-shaped combo stands before us, by the names of Istok Koren, Ana Kravanja and Samo Kutin. They combined their talents for the first time when Najoua, Ana and Samo’s kalimba duo, joined Iztok for an impromptu session. Then, after a shared tour with Iztok’s SKM Banda, the idea for the formation of Širom fell into place. …Liquified… follows on from 2019’s A Universe that Roasts Blossoms for a Horse (also on Glitterbeat) and was hatched/nurtured during those times of isolation and high covidity, where their time was spent on constructing acoustic resonators (as you do) and expanding their collection of exotic and obscure instrumentation; their origins seemingly spanning continents.

So, a forward thinking/driven outfit where the major directive is to plunder dusty, neglected sound sources from dusty, neglected places, might seem a tad perverse, much like a classic rotary dial ring coming from a top of the range smart-phone. But, three albums in, it’s clear that the acoustic-eclectica served as main course is not mere ethno-forgery hoopla or trend-conscious faddism. …Liquified… cements/refines their individualistic stance times two. It’s their first double album venture and this gives extra space to truly stretch out and to showcase/tweak the sonorities of their more recent acquisitions. The starter “Wilted Superstition Engaged in Copulation” (talk about unwieldy titles!!) is an exercise in conflicting moods where an attractive frame drum and chimes motif reverses into a lengthy outing for Ana’s frenetic skirls of viola (violation?) and the ancient-sounding blare of the Arabic double-reeded Mizmar. More of Ana’s dramatic bowing graces “Grazes, Wrinkles, Drifts into Sleep”, in which her extreme upper register vocal trills make for an effectively otherworldly shadowing device. “Prods the Fire With a Bone, Rolls Over With a Snake” (???) offers slightly more of a four-square experience. The plucky strings of the Tampura and again, Ana’s larynx from Planet Helium, wantonly disport themselves in ways of a decidedly pagan nature.

‘A reservation made at the Penguin Cafe made by the Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter’ might just shade it ever so slightly over the Art Ensemble/Faust/Cherry comparisons… but Širom are more than just playing with a few fractions and come thoroughly deserving of your attention. A scribbled entry in your wants list for the vinyl or c.d. version should follow…

One comment

  1. Širom are Slovenian trio. Not Slovakian. Very common mistake people made though…

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