Sunday, September 20, 2009

Electric Fish - (1986) Material Zvok [mc,not on label-re2001,cdr,Coda]

Electric Fish was a Slovenian electro-industrial unit of Matjaž Rebevšek and Ervin Potočnik from a little town Žalec, near Celje in east-central Slovenia. The original incarnation of Electric Fish emerged somewhere around 1983/84 in a fertile climate for audio-experimentalism, when in the Celje region operated such projects as Mario Marzidovšek, Sfinkter [later to become Strelnikoff], Lokalna Televizija, Juhuhu Stric Vinko In Njegovi, White Noise[1]. The period was also marked by a frequent collaborations with Italian improvisational group Musika from Trieste and an organization Coordinamento Musicale Il Posto Della Fragole which resulted in numerous performance happenings throughout Slovenia and the north of Italy, most of which were in the context of Antipsychiatry movement [for example, the closed-down psychiatric asylum San Giovanni in Trieste was a regular venue for these events]. Probably the most famous of Electric Fish's numerous live appearances happened in Udine, on the Friuli stadium in 1985 and on the other hand the most regular gigs were in Celje:

here pictured: Electric Fish [Matjaž Rebevšek - synth, Ervin Potočnik - vocals] performing on a one-day festival with Mario Marzidovšek, Lokalna Televizija, Masaker, Narodni Dom Celje 1983/84

Electric Fish's short 80es engagement was by all criteria - a product of a then-common do-it-yourself reasoning where it a was more important to work and be an active presence on the scene than to actually document what you were doing [not as a matter of a conscious decision of any kind, but more because of the very nature of the zeitgeist]. In that sense, Electric Fish left behind them only one 'official' tape - Optimalni Usodni Minimum [Slovenian for Optimal Humanely Minimum] released in 1987 on Das Synthetische Mischgewebe's own label - Alien Artists, very few rare compilation appearances - such as MML's Condotte Perturbate/Moteno Vedenje [with Marzidovšek, Masaker, Lokalna Televizija, Musika] as well as a 1986 'demo' tape Materijal Zvok. Matjaž and Ervin ceased all activity as Electric Fish by the end of the 1986, never to resurface with any other project. And it wasn't until 2001 and the Mestece Celje - Fantazme Osemdesetih [The town of Celje - Phantasms of The Eighties] exhibition in the Celje Gallery of Contemporary Art - that it was to be heard about them again. Members of the Electric Fish were approached by the exhibition curator Nevenka Šivavec to represent the group with some of its original sound material for the exhibition documenting the 80's local alternative practices and to that purpose the Material Zvok demo tape was transferred into CDR and rereleased in a small number of copies. With the same material Electric Fish was represented on the Oscilacije Zvoka [Sound Oscillations] exhibition in 2005 in Moderna Galerija Ljubljana.

This renewal of interest somehow slowly led to revitalization of Electric Fish's activities and soon enough Matjaž Rebevšek started recording new material and even occasionally performing now and then as Electric Fish. One such occasion was in 2006 on a sculpting exhibition[2] of his former bandmate Ervin Potočnik, nowadays a conservator and a member of Slovenian Academy of Fine Arts. In 2007 Electric Fish released a mini-album Electric Field on Zdenko Franjić's legendary Slušaj Najglasnije! /Listen Loudest! label and with it for the first time in its 25 year history even broke the charts. KZSU Stanford's annual 2008 experimental music charts, that is. Standing in stark contrast with their 80's concrete industrial output, the new aesthetic direction Electric Fish undertook leans towards beautifully textured ambient soundscapes, strange and bewildering analogue modular electronics.

Nowadays, Electric Fish can be found on Myspace:

The CDR / demo tape which I will present to you today - Material Zvok - is containing some of the original mixes that ended up on Optimalni Usodni Minimum [track 1,2,3], as well as some unreleased material from the Udine stadium concert [tracks 4,5]. In terms of style, Electric Fish most of the time plays an entirely synthesizer-based flavour of minimal oldschool industrial, but also has an eclectic edge combining the rather smoothly produced straightforward style of analogue electronics with bits of church chanting, sleazy italo-disco or 80es naiveté pop that renders them vaguely comparable to third wave industrials eccentrics such as Geins't Nait or Cranioclast, when the whole industrial idea-tank still had much gusto left. The CDR comes in a plain see-through sleeve, without any artwork and only with a rather unwholesome white print and ugly lettering on the cd-itself giving the basic information "Electric Fish -1986 - Coda" [Coda being the name of the studio in which the demo tape was transferred]. Ripped by Hogon in 320kbs, August 2009.

Download it - HERE

Enormous gratitude is due to Irena Čerčnik of the Celje Center for Contemporary Arts for sending me the CDR, Matjaž Rebevšek for consenting the interrogation as well as Milko Poštrak of Faculty of Social Work, Ljubljana / Radio Študent.

Optimalni Usodni Minimum tape is still a much wanted item, I would be more than happy to see it on my blog.

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[2] -