The band’s name Pogavranjen simply doesn’t exist in the Croatian language. The members, in a drunken stupor created the word to describe someone who has morphed into a were-raven-like creature. Hailing from Zagreb, Croatia Pogavranjen creates some very experimental, progressive stylings. On their new LP Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem, their third full-length to date, Pogavranjen are themselves morphing into some indefinable, non-existent creature. Soaring over generic categorization and easily pinned down music, Pogavranjen succeed in not only experimenting but captivating. The music is essentially darkened soundscapes enhanced by elements of pyschadelic, jazz and metal. Never formulaic, Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem remains as an off-kilter yet centered work of art.
Despite opening on what is essentially a track of free jazz, anchored only by synthetic samples and electronic noise, Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem truly finds its groove immediately. By “Maitreya” Pogavranjen are off to the races so to speak. Drums hold the tracks together like glue while the keyboards and strings float around a melody; never landing squarely on anything historically catchy or clappable. But that’s not to say the album doesn’t have its own infectious style. Like a bacterial contagion assaulting your prior notions of rock, Pogavranjen create quick changing melodies and steady moods that cement the listener to the experience.
Lyrics frolic from near spoken word poetry to pirate style argh-y growls. At times they even take on the foil like character in a Broadway musical. It’s these gravel-filled, baritone vocals that hold the work together. That makes the album not only cohesive but generally catchy. The interplay between the vocals and the drums is near enough to listen to on its own. Clearly the two form a backbone which allows the other instrumentation to spiral around like the helix of our DNA. As the instrumentation fluidly ascends from the hinterlands of the mix to the forefront the vocals accordingly shift. The impression is that the band is simply one being; perhaps complex molecules formed as amoeba-like creature that bends, bulges and softens in harmony with itself.
If you were a fan of Ahab’s The Boats of the Glen Carrig, Virus’ The Black Flux, Ved Buens Ende’s Written in Waters or Giant Squid’s Minoans, you will find plenty to like on Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem. Six tracks span nearly forty-five minutes while creating an infinite combination of melodies and sounds. Pogavranjen might have a bit of the “music for musicians” vibe going on but it should be accessible for mere appreciators rather than theoretical technicians to latch onto. It seems like once a year an album like this comes along. An album that challenges the listener in the most subtle of ways. A work the is not only progressive but experimental yet so successful that you hardly notice either. For those looking for new directions and exciting takes on a broad range of genres Pogavranjen is a perfect solution.