Max Vincent-Beograd LP, DCM-006
by Max Vincent (Max&Intro)
When preparing our debut release, Max Vincent- The Future Has Designed Us LP, we aimed to create a comprehensive compilation of songs that essentially portrayed Max's captivating lifework. And while the album itself was a success, a few good tracks sadly did not make the cut, but we never stopped believing that some day we’ll get to publish them, provided we unearth more of his music. Indeed, our faith paid off when Max's mother, Slobodanka Popovic called us one morning to say that she had found two large, dusty boxes packed with cassettes, tapes, papers, drawings, lyrics, scripts etc, – effectively scrambling us on a digging adventure! In retrospect, it is hard to convey just how interesting a person Max was, let alone describe in a few words the treasures we discovered in there. Suffice to say that we found much more than music! We journeyed through his life, wandered through his past and, for the first time ever, were able to grasp his music completely. The new LP, Max Vincent – Beograd, is a result of this amazing discovery. It consists of 8 previously unreleased tracks from 1986-1999 which Max intended to use in one concept album – a combination of socially engaged writing and musical biography. As he penned in the message we found:
"I have been working in the time of darkness, sadness, and hate between all the people, unfortunately making happy just one of them – the president"
The record opens with the title track "Beograd", a protest song against repression present in the 90s Belgrade, during the country’s breakup and wars. Consequently, Max chose to censor certain verses: instead of "Beograd Je Malo Bolestan" (Belgrade Is Little Bit Sick), he ironically sings: "Beograd Je Danas Radostan" (Belgrade Is Joyful Today). Nevertheless, the song retains its strong message and is even intensified by its actuality. Next is "Nema Vremena" (There Is No Time), a humorous experimental track with weird guitars and interesting structure. The track opens with a voice from an answering machine, asking for 10 Deutsche Marks plus 150 Dinars (roughly 2€). The seriousness, with which this local guy is seeking an appointment in order to get his money back, is both humorous and grotesque, given the fact this amounted to an average monthly wage at the time. The third song called "Cadillac" is a track featuring a thrilling production of vocals, sound effects and synth sounds. Max, like his heroes from the group Yello, was fascinated with cars, and similarly, made a great recording based on a totally trivial subject. The last song on A side, "Gospodar Snova" (Master Of Dreams), is probably the most outrageous track on the whole album. Outlandish roar introduces an extremely intense beat, which suddenly gives way to a totally unsuitable schlager soprano vocal. The shock effects gradually decrease through the song, yet reach exceptional horror conclusion, making the listener wonder what really happened.
The B side starts with "Time Cabaret", a track where a champagne bottle is opened and to a delirious crowd, a voice announces: "Good evening ladies and gentleman, tonight I have a special honor of presenting you Vincent Max and, of course, his underground disco show. This is a story about modern cities, lonely faces and a man looking for love..." Here, Max resonates in incredibly cool baritone, while his twisted synth tone evokes the sense of danger that characterised the atmosphere of the city’s nightclubs and bars during the era. That feeling of menace is emphasized even further in the next song: "Samo Za Tvoje Oci Znam" (I Only Know Your Eyes), since it focuses on obsessive-compulsive disorder. Max is definitive, not only through his lyrics and singing, but also through a sounds spectrum wholly devoted to picturing this terrifying condition – from ice-cold pads and cutting-edge up-lifters to perverse 909 kicks and bizarre, unclassifiable howls. The theme of dread resumes in the next song, "Dopo Di La Torre" (After The Tower), painting a more atmospheric and less defined form. The symbol of the tower as something powerful, inaccessible and evil is depicted through immensely sustained chord progression, which fortifies the spatial aspect of a tower. The darkness of the night sky and its clouds slowly floating around the object follow the dynamics of the song complemented by exciting sound effects. This sonar array vividly conjures up the atmosphere of death as the main theme of the most poignant song of the album – "The Other Side". It contemplates the death as an absolute truth, the cause and the ultimate manifestation of evil. Unlike the rest of the album, no horror elements creep in here, except for the voice of the devil heard at the end. The proximity of death in the moment of confrontation fills the track with exceptional presence of opposites – of life and love. Given how his own life was a ceaseless internal battle between good and evil, Max’s personality was a matching paradigm of controversy – amusing yet scary, gentle yet cruel, religious yet wicked, artistic and criminal, gifted but miserable. In a word –extreme. Still, masterly conducting the contrasts, Max lived his art and his art was his life. Living the art, he was haunted by eternal enquiry – the meaning of existence, and though he’s gone, his art remains. On this record, at least.
© 2018, Discom, Slobodanka Popovic, Zoran Jevtic, all rights reserved