GB 033LP GB 033LP

LP version. Includes download code. 2016 release. Musicians often struggle to articulate what it is they're playing, where it comes from, and where they're going. Damir Imamović's Sevdah Takht suffer from no such struggle. Dvojka, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2012 debut, is a wonder of clear-eyed thinking, crystalline melody, and deep reflection. Taking its name from "sevda," the Turkish word for "love," derived in turn from the Arabic "sawda," meaning "black bile" (and hence melancholy), sevdah music has been played in the Balkans in one form or another since at least the 15th century. Although the temptation to refer to it as "Bosnian blues" is perhaps too infrequently resisted, its lyrical and musical preoccupations with love, longing, and loss do offer a bridge to other European roots traditions, such as fado, the central concept of which, saudade, is itself related to sawda. Born and raised in Sarajevo, Damir Imamović has been steeped in the sounds of sevdah since childhood. Much has been said of his stellar family tradition -- both his father and grandfather remain legends of the form. Since those early days, however, when he would ward off boredom during the siege of the city in the early 1990s by learning guitar chords in his basement shelter, Imamović has completely changed the rules of the game. Imamović's art is nothing less than a quiet, steady insurgency within sevdah -- deeply considered work that refuses the seductions of nationalism. It takes the music beyond its birthplace and shows it the world. "Sarajevo," the opening track, puts the familiar sonic inflections of sevdah at the disposal of "the other Sarajevo," the fading and forgotten generations of misfits and radicals that quietly underpinned the cultural and political life of the Bosnian capital. There is elegy throughout the album, of course, but slow-burning ecstasy too, from "Opio se mladi Jusuf-beg" (another one for the Sarajevans among us) to the beautifully supple "Lijepa Zejno," which shows precisely what the recent addition of a violin brings to Sevdah Takht. In between lie songs of hope and heartbreak in a stunning interplay between tradition and innovation, with the album being split more or less evenly between original Imamović compositions and songs by authors whose names have long been lost to history. In the hands of a lesser musician, this might be mere archaeology. But behind Imamović's wonderfully maturing voice, and the fun he is clearly having with his custom-made tambur, lies a band of rare, understated accomplishment: percussionist Nenad Kovačić, whose West-African influences are the perfect gift to sevdah; bassist Ivan Mihajlović, playful and deadly serious all in the same bar; and new arrival Ivana Đurić, whose violin provides the anchor to the sevdah tradition that the title of the album teasingly promises. Produced and mixed by Chris Eckman. Recorded by Milan Cimfe at Sono Studios, Czech Republic, November 2015.