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Is this recording an environmental activist art statement or ambient spa music? Maybe both?
The fourth release from São Paulo label Lugar Alto is not a Brazilian production but it still has strong ties to the country, it is the psychotomimetically heuristic ambience of The Dreambird by Mitar Subotić (Suba) & Goran Vejvoda. The album was produced in Paris in 1987 and 5 years later was the first release by Suba in Brazil as a limited edition CD put out by the Brazilian Catholic label Paulinas COMEP.
Listening to The Dreambird is a deeply immersive organic experience. It is ambient music that actually integrates with your environment. Bird calls and shrieks intertwining with lush synth tones, imagine late seventies Tangerine Dream in a tropical hothouse while sliding into a floatation tank located in the Amazon, an environment of rich and strange sounds. The Dreambird harks back to a time when environmental recordings were being discovered as forms of music, as David Toop writes in his book Exotica “… some recordists stuck to the idea of birdsong as music, a notion that is surely as old as music itself”.
The album was made while Goran Vejvoda was living in Paris. Relaxed days were spent sitting around, tinkering with sounds, going out, having lunch, coming back and playing some more. Pascal Humbert, bass player from the French band Passion Fodder, joined the duo for a day. Goran had a Japanese field recording CD called Bird Island Seychelles that contained the exotic bird sounds and sea waves used to create the organic textures of the album. Suba left with the 8-track tapes and rough mix cassettes and adapted the music for a sound art installation/happening by the Danube in Novi Sad where The Dreambird was played, climaxing with a laser show.
In the early nineties Suba moved to Brazil, and together with André Geraissati, was one of the producers of Nina Maika, an album by the Brazilian musician, Edson Natale. The album was recorded at the COMEP studio, renowned at the time for having one of the best audio production structures found in Brazil. Edson and Suba got on well with the studio crew and in 1992 proposed the simultaneous release of Sol de Inverno, an album by Edson Natale and Alex Braga, and The Dreambird. In return, COMEP provided studio hours for them to use on further projects. Suba used these hours for the production of Memória Mundi (otherwise known as Oharaska), an extensive musical project that he worked on with influential percussionist João Parahyba, but which was never finished. From this project the track “A Fábula”, with the participation of the singer Natália Barros, came out on the compilation from the Music From Memory label, Outro Tempo II. According to João, Suba managed to convince the nuns who ran the label that The Dreambird was a recording for meditation, which may have caused him to adapt the name and “conception” of the album, adding another intriguing facet to this production.
The Dreambird was actually only known by that name in Brazil as the record was never actually intended to be public. The names of the tracks released back then were different from those used on this release, which are taken from the masters maintained by Vladimir Ivković. Moreover, the tracks released on the CD in Brazil were shortened and only 4 of the 6 original tracks were on the CD. This release contains the 4 tracks released in Brazil in their original full-length form, plus the two never released tracks that are available exclusively in digital format. Included as a bonus are Goran Vejvoda’s liner notes translated into French, German, Serbian and Portuguese. New artwork, with drawings by Arthur Longo, a French snowboarder and artist, was commissioned for the album and was conceived by the design studio Sometimes Always, who have worked with Lugar Alto since their first release.
Mitar Subotić aka Rex Illusivii aka Suba, was born in 1961 in Yugoslavia. A renowned innovator in his home country but is best known in Brazil for his 1999 CD São Paulo Confessions, a hugely important release that effortlessly walked the line between modern MPB and 90s electronica, influencing a whole generation of Brazilian music makers. Tragically, he died just after it was released and could never benefit from its critical acclaim and success. The Dreambird was recorded in Paris one year before “In the moon cage”, a similar project using the pseudonym Rex Illusivi. This was a recording of exuberant synth scapes, ambient guitar and Yugoslavian folk which was awarded the International Fund for Promotion of Culture from UNESCO, and included a three-month scholarship to research Afro-Brazilian rhythms in Brazil. The album was released in 2015 by Ivković’s Offen Music.
In 1994 Suba resuscitated his Serbian band, Angel’s Breath, with Milan Mladenović, and it became a psychedelic samba-rock project with a line-up of Brazilian musicians including João Parahyba and Fabio Golfetti, there were also contributions from Taciana Barros and, implausibly, eventual soap-opera star, Marisa Orth. Key track “Metak” is an unlikely mix of burundi drumming, post-punk, electronics and samba. “Wayang”, his global music project from 1995, further demonstrated his work with textures, loops and samples, and was recorded in Wah Wah Studios in São Paulo. This was also released by Offen Music in 2018. The prolific producer and music critic Carlos Eduardo Miranda, described Suba’s appeal best when he said “He came from the other side of the world and understood everything about this mess”. A hugely in-demand producer who was about to become a key player in the internationalization of Brazilian music.
Goran Vejvoda is a multimedia artist born in London. After studying music in Belgrade he’s believed to be the guiding hand behind important releases from the early eighties Serbian scene. After moving to Paris he became a guitarist in various bands and worked with renowned comics artist Enki Bilal. Goran has released several solo albums in Japan, “Fruit Cloud” and “Harmonie”. Other records include “Mikro-Organizmi” with Rambo Amadeus and “What” with ZerOne. Goran’s writing can be found in magazines such as The Wire and Vibrö. He has exhibited his art since 1981 and has performed at Beaubourg and Palais de Tokyo and participated in the exhibition “Off The Record” at the Musée D’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. More recently he has been working on and showing video art that is a reaction to the covid pandemic, as well as the All Sounds Considered film, which explores the state of sound and silence.
It’s challenging to trace the story of this project precisely, very little information is available and what we have are diffused fragments of memory from different actors. So, we return to the initial question: what is The Dreambird? It doesn’t matter if it is either an environmental statement or simply relaxing spa music, what it does is evoke sensations that elevate your mind to a higher and more emotional plane and from there you can travel wherever you like.
Music by MITAR SUBOTIĆ & GORAN VEJVODA
Recorded at FUNKTION STUDIO – PARIS, 1987
Mastering: SLOBODAN MISAILOVIĆ
Design: SOMETIMES ALWAYS
Drawings: ARTHUR LONGO
Distribution: HONEST JON’S
LUGAR ALTO (LA-004) – 2022