ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Balkan Horses Band (International) - 2004 - "A Child Is Born"
(130 min DVD, UBP)


I. Live Performance:
1.   Balkan 2000 / Anathema (Ilic)
2.   Bridges / Friend's Song (Theodorou) 
3.   Kostas from Skidra / Vicky's Song (Spassov) 
4.   Touch the Moon / Black Mill (Obrovac) 
5.   Gypsy Song (Stefanovski)
6.   Kaladjdzisco 'Oro (Tr. Macedonian)
7.   Danube's Bank (BHB)

II. Making the "Child":
1.   Special interviews
2.   Rehearsal sessions

III. Bonus Tracks:
1.   Friend's Song 
2.   Black Mill 
3.   Vicky's Song

IV.  Photo Gallery:
1.   Amazing scenes from the tour


Tamara Obrovac (Croatia) - flute; vocals
Theodosii Spassov (Bulgaria) - kaval; vocals
Stoyan Yankoulov (=) - drums & gongs
Krassi Jeliazkov (=) - acoustic guitar 
Vlatko Srefanovski (Macedonia) - electric guitar
Sanja Ilic (Serbia) - grand piano
Kostas Theodorou (Greece) - contrabass
Hakan Beser (Turkey) - percussion
Emil Bukur (Romania) - pan-flute 

Directed & produced by Jeliazkov.
Engineered by V Ignatov.

Prolusion. Subtitled "The Songs of Contact", the DVD is already the third release by the international ensemble BALKAN HORSES BAND, since they entered (rather, rushed into) the Progressive Rock movement just about a year ago. The DVD menu screen is in English. The formats are audio - stereo / 5.1, the disc standard is 1 x DVD 5, and the picture is in the PAL system.

Synopsis. The band's live performance has been filmed in a gigantic concert hall to a sold out crowd, most of whom are at the age of thirty or so. It covers more than a half of the DVD and includes all eleven of the compositions presented on both of their CDs >"Contact" and >" "Contact Part II". However, these aren't just copies of the originals, and the eight that, as you can see above, were selected to form four separate performances, sound vastly different from their CD versions. While the repertoire is, still, a combination of Rock, folk, jazz, symphonic and classical music (the department of pianist Sanja Ilic), here, however, it has somewhat a futuristic feel sense and is delivered with a true Rock intensity. The way that most compositions are constructed reminds me of that in Yes's The Gates of Delirium and their other classic epics when slowly, yet, tensely and consistently developing musical events finally reach some culmination point, transforming into the outburst of massive and powerful joint arrangements. Despite the high complexity of the music, the playing is tight and is absolutely flawless. Generally, the picture and the sound are excellent, the performance is brilliant, and the show is really spectacular. There is the screen behind the scene with the beautiful moving pictures of nature and various horses running in the sand, in the mountains, swimming in the water, etc. The lead guitarist Vlatko Stefanovski and the Kaval (Bulgarian wind instrument) player Theodossii Spassov work really well together and are true showmen fronted the proceedings with not only stunningly strong leads, but also with humorous stirs and mimicry. Once they started eliciting from their instruments the sounds that much resemble a horse's neigh, as if frightened of each other, and they wowed the audience on more than one occasion. Drummer Stoyan Yankoulov and contrabassist Kostas Theodorou, both longhaired, are very emotional and effectively looking musicians as well. They also do a real show, in the background, and Kostas plays the contrabass with his fingers or with a bow. Another colorful person is the bald percussionist Hakan Besser, who, however, is mostly behind another drum kit here. Generally, the band's stage image and the music correspond perfectly to each other, and if you saw, say, Deep Purple's recent live shows, you can get an idea of what you can expect to see here, though the music is much more complex, of course. The second sequence will tell you about the band's history and both of their CDs. The three bonus tracks are done in their entirety, complementing the lack of themes in those dual versions.

Conclusion. There are not many outfits today that would be on par with the Balkan Horses Band compositionally, regarding performance skills and the very progressiveness, all alike. It's really great to have all the songs that this amazing international company of musicians has created to date in the DVD format, especially since most of them differ from their original versions, which, I believe, is at least more or less clear from the review. So you shouldn't pass by this release even if you own both the band's CDs.

VM: August 27, 2004

Related Links:

UBP Records
Balkan Horses Band


ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages