Bratko Bibič & the Madleys

Na Domačem Vrtu (In the Family Garden)

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AllMusic Review by François Couture

Na Domačem Vrtu (In the Family Garden) is an album related to a film by Bratko Bibič, a "historical fiction" that revisits the archives of the Slovenian Cinematheque (who curated the project). With his group the Madleys, the accordionist performed the music on this CD for a number of screenings around Eastern Europe between 1999 and 2001. Recorded in the studio for the most part, except for two live improvisations later reworked, this CD contains some of Bibič's most appealing music. A member of Nimal and the world-renowned Accordion Tribe, Bibič remains a little-known figure outside the circle of Eastern European creative folk enthusiasts. His solo albums have never reached the level of exposure his previously mentioned bands had (or artists like Iva Bittová or Pavel Fajt, for that matter). This album provides a great occasion to catch up with his work. It stands independently from the film as a well-balanced set of tunes, quirky and challenging in some places, yet always pushing an invitation to dance. Bibič (accordion), Matjaž Sekne (violin and viola), and Bogo Pečnikar (clarinet and baritone sax) form a stunning melodic section, trading melodies and developing arrangements that draw on Slovenian and Jewish folk while taking them just a bit further into the controlled chaos of avant-garde music. Meanwhile, bassist Nino De Gleria and drummer Aleš Rendla negotiate all the twists and turns of Bibič's complex rhythms with brio, especially in the compelling "The Pendelling One" and the self-explanatory "New Jerk, or How to Kill the Drummer." Above all reigns Bibič's accordion, light and lively like a huge butterfly unconscious of its weight. Highly recommended for its beauty and originality and well worth the effort to locate a copy.