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Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
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KATALENA @ different venues

Bosna, Not Applicable, Bosnia Herzegovina

Bosna, Not Applicable, Bosnia Herzegovina


Tel Aviv, Not Applicable, Israel

Tel Aviv, Not Applicable, Israel

KATALENA @ City Hall

New York City, New York, USA

New York City, New York, USA

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This band has not uploaded any videos



It was only a bit more than a year from a release of their first album, but for the sons and daughters of mother Katalena the time has extended into an unfinished “summer of love”, indian summer in which the heat of the media just doesn’t wont to stop. In meanwhile Katalena has become a national phenomenon, the only Story that has shown Slovene youths how very cool Slovene traditional music can be. They have shown that it can have the same or even better drive and groove as to them much more known foreign tunes.

On the other hand ‘Babje leto’ has not reached over the expectations that could have been suggested by their first released album, but this isn’t necessarily bad. Distinctively heavy folk-rock sound, where the rhythm section diametrically to clarinet and keyboard inlays fills the empty spaces around neck-breaking sexy rock vocal of Vesna Zornik, has anchored into a Slovene conscience. It has become a distinctive trade mark of Katalena.
Through its audio and visual picture, and through carefully choosing the sources, ‘Babje leto’ is a logical extension of a Haley’s comet called ‘(Z)godbe’ (Stories/ Music)*. The catch is also in a fact, that phrasing, polishing and decomposing of folk tunes might, because of specific formulas, have limitations that can soon turn into a very predictable arranging of predictable materials. Katalena’s inovativity of re-making certainly still deserves our attention, even and even more when we speak of so many times re-made traditional classics as ‘Pobelelo pole’ or ‘Prvi rej’. With explicatively accented riffing of guitar and mandolin parts, with base and percussion rhythmical lines and with soloistic improvisations both Bostjans, Robert, Polona and Tibor are discovering the groove which we have missed so much in stoical arrangements of all folk groups until now.

- Katarina Juvancic, Muska, July-August 2004

The album title itself has invoked a lot of guessing and presumption among many people, and consequentially a great deal of attention. Katalena was always known by two characteristics and virtues. The first is their consistent referring and quite serious deepening into Slovene ethnical legacy (never superficial or ignorant, or made just because such approach would be fashionable). Their second quality is that they are musically interesting and listenable, with their successful and intriguing author approach that, with some artistic tendencies, combines old traditional songs, rhythms, and ways of singing, harmonies and nevertheless dialects with popular contemporary artistic approach.
Because of this first characteristic of the band, the first part of the title “Peasant wedding” has promised an interesting selection of traditional songs that would probably come from very diverse geographical areas, different styles of well-conceived dramaturgy of the abundant repertoire of this custom – Slovene wedding. The second part of the album title “or the third contribution to Slovenian insanity” has indicated something excitable and not easily imaginable. However, what has the listening revealed?
From the folkloristic science point of view, album repertoire could be seen as quite unexciting. It does not reveal all the attractions that could be dug out of the archives, written or audio-recorded sources referring to Slovene wedding. In addition, the most striking themes of the album songs are quite familiar to Slovene audience. Istranova, Aldo Kumar and Aleš Hadalin previously rearranged the main theme “Dajte, dajte”. “(Rad imel bi) Jabuko” is known to many from childhood, or they even learned it in school. Maybe “Lucija” and “Le pijmo ga” are the exceptions. Nevertheless, the choice of songs is led by style, mood and chronology of wedding diversity.

Our selective attention and interest for other layers or aspects of the album has therefore a solid foundation. At this point comes to the front the second (but maybe even primary) virtue of the band, the musical arranging of the chosen songs and motives. Especially significant author signature of the group is not only musical this time, but it adds message to the lyrics as well. Katalena easily delights us with rich and thoughtful arrangements and good compositions. The music is breathing with sudden turns and plays games with diverse styles of popular music. Beside Rock and Pop in their music, we can find patterns of folk-punk (“Le pijmo ga”), house (“Lucija”), swing, Neworlean-jazz, funk, folk-songwriting (Štrbenk na štrbunk”) and so on. Instrumentation offers a rich sound; they even use an old Slovenian ethnical specialty of playing on church bells, and on the other hand prerecorded sounds (very interesting is the addition of the train sound that gives rhythmical base to the composition “Pleši pleši črni voz”).
This album adds another novelty to the sound of the band, sharing the roles in lead vocals. Beside the main leading vocal of Vesna Zornik, voices of Boštjan Gombač and Tibor Mihelič feel welcome. If all the above is an expression of quality and art of the group Katalena, with this album they have, by project and form, reached beyond the first two, (Z)godbe and Babje leto. The entire album as a whole feels very organic because of the motive, but mainly because of its special form, which could remind us of a classical rondo or sonata. The two main themes “Rad imel bi jabuko” and “Dajte, dajte” appear as a main idea or a connective link throughout the entire album.Next to basic forms of these songs, there are other, mostly instrumental versions. Among the leading theme material, other songs are evenly spread.

This album reaches beyond their first two also because the group in its creating process follows a solid idea and conceptual form, which throughout every single verse and detail plays with sparkles of “Slovenian insanity”. Witty and fresh social criticism puts Katalena in a position of a contemporary band in every sense of the meaning.

Another freshness comes through the message of the lyrics that reveal much more authorship than ever before. Until now, Katalena has worked merely with lyrics of traditional songs, but now, for the first time they have stepped into the field of folk-songwriting. Some songs are therefore completely new and some are extended and upgraded versions of traditional songs with an addition of newly written lyrics. The music, the arrangement and the lyrics (except for the traditional ones, of course) are written by Boštjan Narat, who is also the bandleader. The album reaches its climax towards the end, where the complete story comes to the front in the songs that offer us the strongest message through the lyrics (“Le pijmo ga”, “Štrbenk na Štrbunk” and the third version of “Dajte, dajte”).

This album needs to be understood mostly as a “studio project” that stands for the artistic and intellectual readin - Muska, May-June 2006

“We are Katalena and we play Slovenian traditional music.” With these simple words Boštjan Narat introduced this interesting musical group on their first solo concert in Gallusova dvorana in Cankarjev dom Ljubljana. With their original approach to re-creation of Slovenian traditional music Katalena started a courageous work, especially since the band didn’t deicide to play and perform well known musical themes but rather search for the more hidden ones with their origins in different parts of Slovenia. On a brave concert in an almost full Gallusova dvorana (the most important Slovenian concert hall) Katalena presented their new album Kmečka ohcet ali tretji prispevek k slovenski blaznosti (The Peasent Wedding or the Third Contibution to Slovenian Madness). Their decision to present Slovenian folk music in the way they are doing it was in the beginning definitely crazy, but – as it often happens – later can be recognized as the right one.
In the first part of the concert Katalena performed songs from their first ((Z)godbe) and second album (Babje leto) while for the second part the band selected material from their new album, which enabled them to reach an even wider circle of enthusiasts and fans. Direct enjoyment of musical performance was easily transmitted from the six-member band to the audience. The performance was relaxed and self-confident, the playing of the “team” under invisible Narat’s leadership was fascinating. Special contribution was of course passionate singing performance by Vesna Zornik, who literally sang for her life while on the other hand Boštjan Gombač with his “toys” (wind instruments, shakers, singing saw etc.) took the performance in a world of fairy tails and dwarfs.
Katalena presented their new conceptual musical contribution to diversity of Slovenian traditional music in a very solid way and together with their guests – accordion player Marko Brdnik, musical binder Vlado Kreslin, Pritrkovalci iz Šmarja-Sapa (a group performing on church bells) and a boy choir from Zagreb – showed us new dimensions of their and our music. While their new album definitely is one of those Slovenian musical products we can all be very proud of.

Zdenko Matoz - Delo, March 2006

- Katalena, live presentation of an album Kmecka ohcet


In summer 2002 Katalena recorded their first album named (Z)GODBE – in Slovenian it is a game of words meaning something like: music tales. It contains 14 songs from very different musical environments of different regions of Slovenia. It was recorded in Studio 26 of Radio Slovenia for Zalozba kaset in Plosc RTV Slovenia with producer Janez Krizaj. Album also includes three live recordings from their very first meeting point – workshop in Crmosnjice: Da göra ta skarbinina, Katalena and Ptujska grajska muzika. In Ptujska grajska muzika/The Castle Music from Ptuj, cello is played by Spela Avsec. They also made their first video for the song Da göra ta skarbinina directed by Hanna A. W. Slak. The video was played for eight weeks in the most popular Slovenian video show called Videospotnice, where it even reached the prime position. It was quite a shock for the Slovenian music scene, since bands playing Slovenian folk music don't usually get this kind of public attention, especially not among young people. The listeners of Slovenian national public radio Val 202 and Radio Koper - Capodistria, chose the same song as ‘Song of the Week’ while another song from the album (Istrska) became ‘Song of the week’ on the biggest alternative radio station Radio Student. The record took second place in the album year chart of Radio Student.

In the year 2003 Katalena recorded two more videos for the song Dober vecer, mamica (Good evening, mummy), which became “Song of the Week” on Slovene national radio as well, and for title piece Katalena. Otherwise they devoted the year to the promotion of their album (Z)GODBE and their first concerts abroad. They also did two live radio concerts on the national radio. The band played among other concerts on the most prominent ethno festival in Slovenia Druga godba, it appeared again on the Lent festival in Maribor and perform on number of solo concerts all around Slovenia. In august Katalena played the Alpentöne festival in Switzerland.

In the beginning of 2004 Katalena returned to the studio. In a mere 3-day recording session they put to track another 11 remakes of known and unknown Slovene folk songs. The basic orientation of the band remained the same. Dallas records released this new kaleidoscope of Slovene folk music called ‘BABJE LETO’ (peasants’ expression for Indian Summer) on April 13th 2004 under great interest of both music critics and the general public. In the first week of sales the album entered the (unofficial) Slovene sales chart Slo Top 30 at #29 and later on reached #5.

The release of ‘Babje Leto’ was accompanied by a new video for the first single taken from the album, 'Siroko more i Dunaj’. The video for this song (transl.: ‘The Broad Sea and the Danube’), about a hero who rows in a galley and longs for home, has been directed by Miha Knific who is part of the renown Slovene production team Strup produkcija. ‘Siroko more i Dunaj’ was premiered on national public television on April 25th and has successfully entered all Slovene video charts.

On May 13th, Katalena has presented the new album to the public in Krizanke, Ljubljana’s esteemed open-air theater, where they performed together with Terra Folk and a Scotish band called Back of the Moon. The concert was recorded by radio BBC and Slovenian national television RTV SLO. During the summer Katalena represent Slovenia on EBU (European Broadcast Union) festival 2004, the band played in Italy - Toscana and continued to perform at many festivals throughout Slovenia including Rock Otocec, Slovenia’s biggest and most important open air festival of popular music. Another very important home event took place in October 2004 in Cankarjev dom, the largest cultural centre in Slovenia, as Katalena sold out a very successful solo concert. The band shot another video for a song tittled Pobelelo pole z ovcama (The white Field with Sheep) which is one of the songs that can be often heard on Slovene radio stations and was as well a 'Song of the Week' on national radio in the end of July. Video was again directed by Hanna A. W. Slak.

The begining of 2005 was successful as well. In the end of January national television organized a TV show about a very well known international music festival called Eurosong, which celebrates 50th anniversary this year. In TV show well known Slovene artists performed remakes of some of the most popular songs, performed in the Eurosong contest and Katalena played a remake of a song titled All Kinds Of Everything by Irish singer Dana, who won the contest in 1970.
On the 8th of February - the national day of culture, the band presented a dancing and musical performance, which was created in cooperation with a dancer and choreographer Edward Clug. The performance was presented in Gallus Hall (the biggest concert hall in Slovenia). The Occasion: once a year the estimated Slovene artists receive the highest possible award on the state level for their lifetime achievements. The award



Forming of the group was quite coincidental. Coming from different musical backgrounds from more or less classic rock (Sfiltrom, Terra mystica, Bast), folk (Terra folk), blues (Moj boogie band) to trip hop (Melodrom) the band members met in summer 2001 in a Slovene countryside village of Crmosnjice in Bela krajina. For a week they were playing different old Slovenian folk tunes discovered in the archives of the Ethno-Musicological Institute of Ljubljana.

Katalena deals with the legacy in folk music of the Slovene area, recreating and performing it in its’ own way. The basic presumption to the work of the group is faith in the timelessness of the folk music, which is, according to the band's opinion, still a part of young people’s lives and not as dead remains, but as a vital tradition. The goal of Katalena is to revive this tradition, give it a wave of fresh energy, to pull it out of the dusty national subconscious and publish it in a way that is at ease and unburdened. There are not many experiments of this kind in Slovenia and the result was a positive surprise. Katalena created a very special mixture of rhythms, temperament, of the old with the new. In their music heritage rock and ethno rhythms meet. A dash of jazz is added. In short: when making rearrangements, basically everything is allowed.

Starting with the workshop, which was firstly meant to be an only one-time musical project, Katalena soon grew into a regular music group gaining quite a lot of attention in a very short period. They had their first public appearance in December 2001 on a rock festival called Novi rock (New Rock Festival) in Ljubljana. This first individual concert was (to everyone’s surprise) completely sold out. After a successful icebreaking the group presented their music in many Slovenian cities. In their first summer they played at practically all major Slovenian festivals: Lent (Maribor), Trnfest (Ljubljana), Mediteranfest (Izola), Kunigunda (Velenje) and Mladost v Prastarem mestu (Ptuj).

Their music and energetic performance was not only well accepted by the audience, but also by the critics. The two nominations for the 2001 Boomerang music award proved it - categories: Innovation of the year and Ignite (live performance).