How on one Belgrade evening in ’93 everything stopped being the same, again, forever

 

“..I’ve been struck dumb by a voice that
speaks from deep
beneath the cold black water.
It’s twice as clear as heaven,
and twice as loud as reason.
It’s deep and rich like silt on a riverbed
and just as undisturbing.
the currents mouth below me opens up around me.
suggests and beckons all while swallowing.
It surrounds and drowns and sweeps me away…”
Undertow

 

Tool-Undertow

I’ve been surrounded by music literally since I can remember.
I spent my childhood and teens completely absorbed in music and in constant search for those unbelievable bands, songs and albums that would strike that special chord and just blow me away..
It was either that or nothing. I could never settle for any music that didn’t mean something substantial to me, on whatever level.
It was beginning of 90s, there was no internet or cell phones, nothing I cared about was easily accessible; all of my favorite music (and more importantly, all the fantastic music I haven’t heard yet but knew it was out there somewhere, being recorded and played) was so far removed from any form of the “mainstream” and  the media.
I’m sure this was more or less the situation everywhere in the world at that time, but in Belgrade, Serbia, in that black ’93, it was immencely worse and more difficult. Virtually impossible.
You had to actually work very hard, finding ways, with the help from your network of friends with similar interests, in order to experience those completely magical, sometimes life-changing moments of highest of highs, that lift you up from the ground, when you hear THAT music…that feels like you’ve been waiting to hear it all your life…
I was always hungry for more, discovering, absorbing and loving all kinds of fantastic bands. And I always had this idea in my head…of what THE perfect band, MY perfect band, should sound like. THAT band, that would blow me away musically as well as lyrically, THAT band that would make me rock out and figure shit out at the same time, that would make me laugh and pierce me through the heart with one note or a word, that would inspire me in craziest, most unexpected ways and that would start a fantastic surreal new movie in my head every time I play their song.
Somehow, I knew how that perfect band should sound, even though I had no idea if it does or will it ever exist. I knew the feeling of that music that I’ve been hoping for.
One day back in ’93 I was leaving my best friend’s place and I took back a few of my CDs from him, put them in my bag and went home.
I remember exactly which ones came out of the bag when I came home: my Soulside „Soon Come Happy“, Fugazi „13 songs“, Bob Mould „Workbook“, Gang of Four „Entertainment“, No Means No „Wrong“, someone elses Revolting Cocks „Linger Ficken’ Good“, NIN „Pretty Hate Machine“ and the first RATM.
And two tapes. Husker Du and Public Enemy. I remember feeling excited and happy to have my babies back, I missed listening to those albums.
But there was another CD in the bag. I must’ve accidentally taken it. I remember studying the intriguing looking booklet as I was eagerly reaching for the player.
I had no idea what this was, who they are, what to expect. My buddy was in his Godflesh phase at that time and I remember thinking  those pictures in the booklet could very well fit that kind of a thing. Which was cool by me. Who doesn’t like a bit of Godflesh every now and again, right?
So, I pressed „play“.
And then „Intolerance“ started and I stopped whatever I was doing. I sat there in my chair, with my mouth open, staring at the player, seeing things, feeling my adrenaline and dopamine and all other kinds of ines go through the roof, feeling I need to call someone right away.
I needed to call someone but I couldn’t hit the “stop” button, so I sat there, not moving, experiencing all kinds of extreme shit, from regressing to most basic childlike blissfulness to pure exhilaration, to heart palpitations and hyperventilation… until the album was finished.
And then I played it again, just to make sure, even though I knew already. And again. This was THAT fuckin’ band. This was THAT music, those riffs, those sounds, that feeling, that force, those words…that voice…I recognized it like it was an old friend.
I knew then as I know now, nothing will ever be the same again.

 

Undertow

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