Is it time for retrospection again? Well, 2019 was rich in music. Concepts, beautiful covers, false titles, gentle vocals and aggressive strings. These are just some of the words by which we can define this year’s Bulgarian productions. No rankings, no TOP 1, 20 and 101 – let us leave this choice to your personal taste. And in the last 2 weeks of December in the “See the Music” selection, we are going to listen to rap, hardcore, funk, soul, pop, RnB, fantasy doom metal … and other things that we sometimes find difficult to determine. But do we really have to? Creativity does not set boundaries but, on the contrary, it opens horizons. For both the performer and the listener. Whether it will be in Bulgarian, English or another language, or else instrumental will prevail – we are here to listen, jump and headbang, dance and wear away the play / repeat button. And to share with you our favorite Bulgarian performers, of course!
The 25-year-old attractive singer quickly became favorite of the local audience. There is no one who has watched her live without contracting her positive, impossibly high energy. Preyah‘s self-titled debut album is a combination of that feminine energy and strength, materialized in alternating fast and slow tracks. The artist shares about it that the working title was “She” – everything that a woman was, IS and will be, as well as what people expect her to be. In the song “She” we will even hear her rap! Among the songs we can distinguish “Lo6 navik” (Bad Habbit), “Prikazka” (Tale) and “Ne sum za tuk” (I Am Not For Here). TromBobby and Zhluch are involved with the latter and this may explain why this is the Bulgarian song that I have listened to the most this year. Eight gentle pop songs a la the Bulgarian Beyonce plus two more: one remix and one acoustic version. With her debut album, released in May, Preyah successfully jumped over the commercial pop cliché and with her head held high, declared and strengthened her style. Or the direction she is taking as a solo artist? We can’t wait to find out what else Preyah has yet to show us!
LEENA “SOONER OR LATER” (EP)
Another tender face on the musical horizon this year ended up – by accident or not – in our selection. Tsvetelina Lazova, nicknamed Leena, released her debut mini-album “Sooner or later” also in the spring of 2019 – in April. The EP features five English-language songs anywhere between RnB, indie and electro pop, and makes a serious claim for the young singer’s future musical plans (or were they called creative plans?). The beats are the work of Kamen Kolev, so if you are familiar with his style you will easily recognize the links and find what is in common – in a positive sense. The two met in England, where they studied together. It seems as if roses sprout from this EP, butterflies flutter, beauty and diamonds shine from it. Flavored with red wine, with traces of lipstick on the glass, in dim light with a jazzy mood. The songs are pouring and settling well in the eardrums, as if they are in no hurry. We recommend “My Lane” as well as the impressive Contour Ink video.
“Sooner or later” ЕР by Leena: https://song.link/album/i/1459894766
SEVI “FOLLOW ME”
Sevi are Svetlana Bliznakova – vocals, Pavlin Ivanov – drums, Rally Velinov – bass, Delyan Ketipov – guitars. They define themselves as “heart rock”. Two years after the previous album, the musicians released 11 brand new songs that they put together in their third production – the LP “Follow Me” in March. We are fans of the female fronted metal genre, or in other words, metal with female vocals, and we cannot hide our pride that Bulgaria has its own metal frontladies. What to expect? A hoarse rock, but in its own way tender and soft voice that delicately contrasts the strings. Or we would rather say “complements”. We advise you to hit one ear (or directly two) of the tracks “Am I alive”, “Fade away”, “Goodbye”. Songs featuring star names such as Thomas Vikström, vocalist of the iconic band Therion (“The art of war”) and Jen Majura – guitarist of another well-known band, Evanescence, also play a special role in the tracklist.
AEGONIA “THE FORGOTTEN SONG”
And talking about metal bands frontladies, AEGONIA released their album “The Forgotten Song” in April 2019. The frontlady of the fantasy doom metal project Elitsa Stoyanova is its vocalist, plays the violin and writes music and lyrics together with guitarist Nicky Nikolov . In fact, the album is just one part of a larger literary-music fantasy world with Stories from the Land of Aegonia, which also include two (so far at least) successful fantasy novels, “The Forgotten Song” and “A River of Memories”, released in the summer. The author of the novels is – yes, you guessed it – AEGONIA’s metal frontlady Elitsa Stoyanova under the pseudonym Nea Stand. Immerse yourself in the worlds of AEGONIA inspired by the Bulgarian forests, the Finnish myths and the Ancient European epics, dragons and fairies in the mountain mists that remind of Tolkien.
ITSO HAZARTA “NEPRAVILEN RAP” (IRREGULAR RAP)
We make a sharp turn. Because the legendary rapper from the even more legendary rap trio came out all of a sudden with a debut solo album. Is there any fan (or just a curious music connoisseur) who hasn’t played it yet? Meanwhile, the trio became a duo, Itso also shot four videos and was ready to give us another dose of morale in the form of rap rhymes. So that lines like “Aw, you’re very dumb!” are absolutely in the order of things. In “Nepravilen Rap” (Irregular Rap) – a combination of already known singles and new songs – Hazarta again is not afraid of slapping ironic verbal slaps on Bulgarian reality. Whether it be inter-rap teasers and “feeders”, the police, the public administration, and any native acronyms. On the pedestal is the theme of our moral values - and as if it has been echoing since the beginning of the century, acquiring a more modern sound in Hazarta’s style. The rapper is in charge of the lyrics, and the music is by Bat Ventsi from Upsurt. Among those involved you will also find Qvkata DLG, Homelesz, Bobo, Beloslava, YaYa. At the threshold of the new decade, we wonder if this is the end of an era or the beginning of a new one?
MADMATIC x ROASTY SUAVE “5:30 AM” (EP)
This spring Varna did not fail to please us with good new music either. After the trilogy of the super group Golqm Yus was successfully completed, the three members dispersed again individually to work on their own. We have recently heard the new Boro Parvi album, but before that we got the joint EP of Madmatic and Roasty Suave. In “5:30 AM”, Mada abandons his beatmaker role for a while to dedicate himself completely to rapping to the beats of one of the most acclaimed producers, Rostislav Albert. The 6-track album comes again to show that Madmatic is capable of treating controversy and themes in his songs like no other, and Roasty – that his strength reaches beyond the trap frequencies. The 20 minutes encompass stylistics such as the somber anthems of eroticism, typical for the Varna scene lofty tracks, a love ballad and well-thought out rap rhymes – all that on caressing the ears instrumentals. Madmatic and Roasty Suave make sure there is something for everyone and positive feedback is inevitable.
5 О’CLOCK “AM”
The second album here, featuring an “hour” theme in its name, is one of the most active segments in the native hip-hop. We can very easily nominate AM for best team chemistry project in recent years. 5 O’Clock (Imera, Bunta, VLG, Sfonk, Osmi) are not few and are here to get what is theirs. Not least because of its explosive energy, the colorful palette of characters and the wide variety of sub-genres that air in their first ever studio album. Stopping the stopwatch at 50 minutes, the 5 AMs play skillfully with the words, numbers and hours in time, played out in the overall concept of the album. Although at first glance, their rhymes look familiar, they still surprise the listener with yet another heap of metaphors and puzzles, swap one or two bars between each other, or just explode in their own way. “AM” combines the band’s boom bap and hardcore roots with some of the newer currents and creates an interesting mix of twisted, slightly broken or just really resonating instrumentals. The boys are also contemplative – in more than one or two pieces they introduce elements of retrospection, tell stories or just develop more concentrated topics. Together they play as a true Wu-Tang of the time with their many different characters. 2019 was a very strong year for the Five with the album and the experimental solo project of Bunta (Christian Pavlov), and the new decade is expected to keep up this trend with the sequels “PM” and “JUNKYART II” and probably many other surprises.
ZHLUCH – ZVYARA (THE BEAST)
Every year, there is one person who stands out from the crowd in their category, and all in all or at least so it seems to us that for 2019 this is Zhluch’s new album, unequivocally entitled “Zvyara” (The Beast). Matthew Stoyanov, also known as Zhluchezar Zhivkov has been in the focus of music lovers for a long time. Since 2015, he has not missed a year to sign up with at least one project in one form or another. This year, however, he released his first entirely solo LP, which could mean only one thing – control is only in his hands. Not only did he flood the 13 tracks again with his frankly painful lyrics, Matthew was able to bring a considerable part of his native production elite under one roof. The hip-hop mix between bitter comedy and overt realism is complemented by instrumentals spanning modern yet unfamiliar sounds to our stage. By forming a picture of the depths of human consciousness and the primary in each of us, the protagonist does not stop releasing a banger after banger and forging hymns for our society and the anarchy in it. Whether it’s social-activist-oriented or all-parody, Zhluch is ready to crack any song in his path, for the sake of quality hip-hop with a message.
“See The Music” Project is supported by National Culture Fund of the Republic of Bulgaria