HASHIMA — Starry Night (review)

HASHIMA — Starry Night album cover Album · 2021 · Eclectic Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
"Starry Night" is Serbian quartet Hashima's third album, and their second release for American label Odradek Records (who previously re-released Hashima's second, originally Serbia-released album "The Haywain", in 2019). It contains more eclectic material than their previous one, and muically it moves noticeably towards prog/post rock.

Above mentioned eclecticism is not strange at all, knowing that the compositions presented come from some very different sources. "Glaciers", "Eclipse" and "Muriel" are all recorded in the renown La Buissonne Studios in France and are rooted in the band leader Igor Mišković's childhood memories about some nights in 1999 when NATO planes bombed his hometown of Belgrade. These contain short lyrics and Igor's vocals.

NATO bombings of Serbia in 1999 is one of the most dramatic events in the country's last decade, and the memories about it are very fresh and emotive there till now. I haven't been there during the bombings, but my wife, who is native Serbian, was there and these nights in her hometown of Loznica where some military objects were bombed as well, are very fresh in her memory. I spent some years in early 00' living around Western Balkans, and I heard from many different people their memories about these days. One can see the building in a centre of Belgrade, half-destroyed by the bombings, still today, and it is obviously left unrepaired as a monument for the drama. As a result, in today's Serbia we have radically separated population by their opinion about the future - some see their future in modern Western world, as part of European civilization, and others - believing in some mystical "special way" (far not for the first time in the country's history), furiously proposed by Eurasian-Orthodox Russia.

Mišković himself, who is of a younger generation and saw these events more with child eyes, says in liner notes: "It had been a very odd and difficult situation and emotional experience to spend strangely beautiful childhood days during a period of bombing in Belgrade, Serbia in 1999". What I really like in these three songs there is some sadness, and some darkness, and a bit of melancholy, but there is no hate or hysteria, or pain. The world is more difficult than we would like it being, and sometimes things go not the way we would like them going, but we must to find the way to live in this real world.

Rest of the songs are all different but generally fit together with the first trilogy (which is obviously responsible for the album's title) quite well. "Dance No.1" is possibly the jazziest piece on the album with trombone soloing from guest star Italian Gianluca Petrella, still with very recognizable Hashima's mid-tempo slightly melancholic sound. "Release" is a live version of their debut album's song, presented here in collaboration with choir which builds a very church-like pastoral atmosphere.

The closer, "Junkopedia", is a soundtrack to a short movie about Serbian painter Leonid Šeika, an almost eight-minute long freer jazz piece.

In all, it's great to evidence that Hashima found their own recognizable sound, and continues releasing strong music and doesn't avoid some new searches.
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