TBF: Croatia’s hottest band on discovering Dalmatia by ear
Every good vacation has a theme song. The best trips abroad send you home with at least two or three recording artists that have you seriously considering Rosetta Stone on your layover.
Finding tunes that hit the right notes is not always easy though – as a visitor it’s sometimes hard to know where to look. We here introduce you to Dalmatian music and artists, both classic and cutting edge, to aid you in finding a signature tune to call your own and in exploring the sound and soul of Dalmatia.
To do so, we’ve recruited the help of Sasa Antic – lyricist, singer, and mastermind of Croatia’s mega-popular TBF – The Beat Fleet, performing tonight in Pula Castle, where they’re looking forward to bringing you their anthology.
Sample this: The Beat Fleet
TBF, from Split, debuted as a hip-hop band in 1997 with their album “Ping-pong (Umjetnost zdravog dira),” on which they coupled their now trademark social and political commentary with a series of sampled beats, creating an experience never before encountered on Croatia’s music scene.
The genre-mixing sound sensation grew their range under numerous audible influences (British trip-hop, grunge, and reggae, to name a few) and caught the attention of anybody who hadn’t been listening earlier in 2003 with their third album, “Maxon universal,” featuring forever favorites such as “Alles gut” and “Sareni artikal.”
Since then they’ve pretty much been ruling the rhythmic roost as the hottest band in the country. Their latest album is 2011’s “Pistaccio metallic,” where you’ll find their hit single “Mater,” the lyrics to which – detailing how, though the singer might even be able to forgive the girl who broke his heart, he can’t say the same for his mother – deserve a post of their own.
We ask TBF’s Sasa Antic to imagine somebody outside of Croatia can get to know Dalmatia through its music alone, without any stories, visits or visuals. What three or four songs would he recommend they hear to get a feel for the region?
In the first two songs we hear a commonality in the a capella style known as klapa music. But is there something else these and other Dalmatian songs share in common? A theme, emotion or tone, an approach to life?
Sasa tells us, “A common thread found in Dalmatian songs which are dear to me is without a doubt that feeling of melancholy so typically Mediterranean, a feeling of the immediacy of the endless sea and sky in conflict with the awareness of the suffering and transience of the physical. What resolves this conflict is a need for harmony and yearning for beauty and justice.”
The palpable melancholy breeds a certain irresistible nostalgia heard in some of the band’s songs sampling music they grew up listening to, such Oliver’s above mentioned “Ca je zivot vengo fantazija,” revisited and reborn in TBF’s “Fantasticna.”
Sasa’s selection: top five Dalmatian musicians
Of Oliver’s music, Sasa, who adores his albums from the 70’s, says it “lifts you up while at the same time saddening and relaxing you.” When we asked Sasa to name 5 musicians or bands from Dalmatia, be they old or new, he’d recommend as among the best, Oliver was in his list beat out by just one.
“First and foremost is without a doubt Ljubo Stipesic Delmeta, the great composer and poet and author of Dalmatia’s unofficial hymn, Dalmatino poviscu pritrujena. His compositions have been performed by numerous klapa groups, many of which he himself led. If I had to point out performances, they’d be those by Vokalisti Salone and Klapa DC (Dalmacijacement).”
Next in line are Oliver’s previously mentioned albums from the 70’s. Their music was composed by Zdenko Runjic and the arrangements were made by Stipica Kalodjera. “The lyrics were written by numerous authors, and that itself tells a very special and important story,” says Sasa.
He next names Tom Bebic – “original and unconventional, sometimes referred to as the Dalmatian Tom Waits, if the comparison is helpful to anybody,” he continues. “Then we have Daleka Obala, Davoli and Dino Dvornik, music which marked my school days,” he concludes.
A song for every occasion
To help you further in exploring the music of Dalmatia and finding a song or two which might add a new dimension to your adventures along the Adriatic, we bring you situation-specific recommendations for three Dalmatian moments you can easily find yourself experiencing.
Just tossed your havaianas onto a little, wooden boat headed from Hvar to the islands of Pakleni otoci? Sasa recommends setting the trip to the tune of Oliver’s “Galeb i ja.”
The ace up your sleeve while playing cards with friends in the cool shade of a pine forest? Tedi Spalato’s “Lipote gladan, ljubavi zedan.”
Staring deeply into the eyes of your beloved beneath a starry summer sky? Hands down, we’re back to Oktet DC, now with “Jute san se zaljubija.”
Melancholy and wine, love and little boats, the fabulous food and breathtaking vistas – whatever it is about Dalmatia that makes your heart sore or your lips smile, make it even more memorable with Dalmatian music as your soundtrack. Have your next step be seeing TBF live in concert tonight in Pula Castle starting at 8 p.m.
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