This Dubioza Kolektiv review was written by Viktor Balchikliev, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Samantha Melrose.
After a few years of anxious waiting, Dubioza Kolektiv have finally delivered another example of musical diversity at its finest. Coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the band has become the artistic embodiment of the Balkan region with its free spirit, complexity, and unparalleled multiplicity. Their eighth studio album ‘Happy Machine’ presents yet another dose of political satire, ska-punk frivolity, Mediterranean vibes and unstoppable Balkan folklore.
Since their foundation in 2003, Dubioza Kolektiv never hesitated to experiment and broaden the horizons throughout their extensive discography. The band currently consists of seven members whose names are as challenging to grasp as their rebellious lyrics – Almir Hasanbegović and Adis Zvekić (vocals), Brano Jakubović (sampling), Vedran Mujagić (bass), Jernej Šavel (guitar), Mario Ševarac (saxophone), and Senad Šuta (drums). Unpredictable as their sound, you can find them playing acoustic sets at a train station in Spain, jamming at a supermarket in Macedonia, or constantly rocking around the world in their characteristic black and yellow outfits.
Although ‘Wild Wild East’ arguably remains their best work up to date, ‘Happy Machine’ does its best to match its 2011 predecessor. The opening ‘All Equal’ (ft. BEE2) invites you to a musical journey throughout the world with a distinctive oriental flavour. The underlying multicultural ideology is reinforced with songs in native Bosnian, Italian, Spanish, Punjabi and English with a strong Eastern European accent which makes their music even more authentic. In addition, the album impresses with a strong guests like the legend Manu Chao, Benji Webbe from the Welsh ragga metal band Skindred, and the Spanish skankers La Pagatina among many others.
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Dubioza Kolektiv’s music is dynamic and lively with numerous influences. From the energetic ska of ‘Hay Libertad’ to the heavier rock of ‘No Escape (From Balkan)’ and the suprising dubstep frenzy of ‘One More Time’, the album speeds up like a musical roller coaster from genre to genre. ‘Free.mp3’ stands out with it characteristic melodies and riotous defense of piracy matching the album’s free download release. With ten tracks in total, ‘Happy Machine’ is an easy listen, a positive and uplifting album which is guaranteed to entertain and add more followers to Dubioza’s growing fan base. With a wide range of styles, the songs shift from punk to alternative rock, Balkan folk, ska, dub, and electronic, concluding with a humourous take on Adriano Celentano’s classic ‘24000 baci’.
With all its frivolity, energy and entertaining rhythms, ‘Happy Machine’s’ real strength lies within the bitter realism and lyrical power of the tracks. The seemingly humorous themes quickly twist into strong political comments and satyrical depictions of contemporary global issues without any censorship or anxiety. Dubioza Kolektiv has never hesitated to speak up freely and point out the obvious issues that many choose to neglect and ‘Happy Machine’ stands as another example of their clever musical riot.
Infusing punk-rock and ska with Balkan traditional music surely isn’t a new sensation but one cannot deny that Dubioza Kolektiv currently stands proud at the forefront of the movement. With distinctive musical and lyrical diversity, ‘Happy Machine’ is perfect for any occasion with its changing moods, genres and themes. Playful yet socially aware, entertaining yet mercilessly critical, energetic yet melodic, Dubioza Kolektiv has once again invited everyone to a musical journey through the Balkans and the world. Or as the musicians put it themselves:“Happy Machine is rant on the freedom of everything – speech, movement, ideas and knowledge, and the struggle of ordinary people trying to protect these freedoms from the relentless soul snatchers.”
‘Happy Machine’ is out now via Koolarrow Records and available for free download at dubioza.org.