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Korni Grupa / Kornelyans - Korni Grupa CD (album) cover

KORNI GRUPA

Korni Grupa / Kornelyans

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.95 | 43 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Considered one of the first and most important Yugoslavian rock albums, Korni Grupa's debut LP, this self-titled affair from 1972, saw a band, formed by ex-Indexi keyboard player Kornelije Kovac, that had previously had to focus on shorter pop songs bravely step up into more adventurous and explorative ambitious rock. Strong melodic compositions with loose improvised jams in the style of hard rock, blues, jazz fusion and fuzzy psychedelia with confident vocals and a heavy use of electric piano were the results, and it may be one of the strongest Yugo prog related albums of that time.

Opener `Glas Sa Obale Boje' jumps back and forth between a slightly downbeat acoustic ballad that comes alive with togetherness in the chorus with fiery and brooding electric guitar riffs in the middle and end. The fourteen minute four-part `Put Na Istok' shares a similar unpredictable and all-or-nothing eclectic approach to Italian band Banco del Muruo Soccorsso and well as the jazzy vibes of Samurai/The Web. Full of lengthy instrumental displays, Josip Bocek's electric guitar is all thick muscular grinding one second, dirty grooving Santana-like sweltering strutting the next, Kornelije's red-hot electric piano a dazzling swirl of movement. Drummer Vladimir Furduj is all wild yet controlled fury, and Bojan Hreljac's bass weaves throughout the background and constantly leaps forward. Plenty of tempo changes, some sedate and thoughtful rests, psychedelic dreaminess and lots of call-and-response dueling interplay between Zlatko Pjakovic's commanding vocals and the rest of the musicians makes for a thrilling extended piece that is truly infectious and addictive.

Side B's `Moj Bol' is a sultry upbeat strolling jazz workout, comprised of spiraling piano, hand percussion and slow-burn electric guitar ripples around Zlatko's voice, a mix of lustful croons and spitting deranged rants. Bojan's bass is a real highlight here, effortlessly adapting to the changing directions of the piece with ease. Right from it's opening seconds, `Bezglave Ja-Ja Horde' is a frantic jazz/fusion race, delirious electric piano runs, slithering bass and nimble drum-work running rings around each-other, the scorching electric guitar taking on a wicked snarl around Zlatko's theatrical bellowing. Closer `Tata Ko, I Mama Spo' is a warm acoustic ballad with a strong vocal melody and pleasing electric guitar fills throughout, displaying how well the band had perfected more compact pieces over the years prior to this, and the electric piano break in the middle is sublime and restrained.

The recent CD reissue by label Eastern Time in 2013 includes eight bonus tracks of singles and their b-sides, a nice way to hear the way the band evolved into what is offered on the main album here. Within two years they would rename themselves Kornelyans and release an English language album recorded in Italy called `Not An Ordinary Life', further heading in progressive rock directions. But for this first `Korni Grupa' album, it's a personal Yugoslavian favourite of mine alongside the self-titled Izvir album, and the lengthy soloing/instrumental improvisation and superior vocals makes it a winner to me.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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