The songs presented here are only a selection made out of 350 of them recorded from late 2000 to early 2002, on the brink of the 21st Century, inside the Red Room of my family house in Mala Mo, surrounded by serene pastoral scenery and distant city lights of Belgrade. From there, sitting with my guitar by a giant antenna which, I felt, was absorbing sounds of the satellites, next to a window with a broken wing and innumerable loving details that my parents have gifted me with, from the mystic trees in the garden to flags, books and toys overfilling the room to their heartbeats sending waves of love through the space, I could have a view of both the glistering earthly stars and the real ones sending glints of cosmic joy from the sky. I let them be reflected in the sea of love of my eyes and attempted to capture their twinkly sounds in the songs that are inscribed on this CD. This music arose from mine sorting all my life, musical experiences and auditory fascinations in my head into harmonies that deeply touched me. The harmonies, not the "coats" of sounds, have always been of primary interest to me, which is why I did not introduce any of the effects and filters during the production stages, letting the natural hum form messages through the music as well. The ideal of tuning our beings first and only then our instruments - because we are, in some sense, the instruments of God - has always been my guiding-star principle.

A sense of blended heavenly sadness and cosmic joy, iconic tears of compassionateness and starry glistening outpours of dancing bliss was what I intended to awake in others through my music. I have always felt as if that great wish, the yearning of our heart to produce truly valuable and precious deeds, to make music that will help people navigate through their lives in enlightening ways, would unknowingly how, indeed produce what was wished for. Absorbed in every note, in every sound that I played, I felt a great and almost magical sense of responsibility for the healing power, partly built through hard work and partly placed into my hands, forcing me to meditatively produce sounds through a harmony between intended and preconceived on one side and spontaneous and improvised on the other. This is indeed a great harmony to be achieved. Struggle to have control over everything, to do exactly what you desire for, or as you imagine, and the final works will lack the magical beauty and intrinsic divinity. Likewise, dissipate yourself into mindsets of complete chaos and intellectual anarchy, and the core of your being will be deprived of its essential creative drives.

As far as the greatest inspirations in music are concerned, the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and Radiohead's Kid A immediately come to mind. I have ever since been impressed by the arrangement of sounds on Pet Sounds: so dusty, old and gloomy, and yet awash with love, wonder and grace; so many instruments hidden behind the layers of sound, reflecting millions of wonderful messages that each and every detail of the cognitive and perceptual worlds that we live in radiate with.

Just as I started working on my recordings, in November 2000, Kid A was released and prompted me to its hypnotic and careful listening. Its final moments when carefully arranged sounds cede place to a song sounding as if recorded using an old microphone on an old cassette-player in a dining room, and yet immersed in an indescribable beauty, leaving the rest of the album and most of the heavily produced (but often poor in harmonies) musical works that dominated the actual era in the shade, stood in front of me with a message of a monumental importance, as if whispering to me that “anyone can do it”, enkindling vigor in me to start devotedly working on my own compositions as if I was saving the world with them. Without such a “secret” support, my works would have maybe lacked a precious implicit belief in their great importance, which I passionately cultivated during their recording. For, I have always believed that we must believe in the greatness of our works in order for them to really become great some time in the future.

The dustiness and hum of the songs are a part of the whole artwork. They would not be the same, and I would not be so proud of them had they been made from perfectly clear sounds, let alone permeated and guided by computerized metronomes and faultless, inhuman beats. Our voices, especially the angelic ones, sound beautiful owing to their harmony between aspirations towards a heavenly clarity, purity and grace, and our human dustiness, fearful finiteness and beauty found in mistakes, uncertainties and insecurities.

As of the message of the music, when Brian Wilson was asked a similar question about Pet Sounds, he replied that the ultimate intention was to make the listener feel as if he/she was being loved. For me, the message might be the other way around, i.e., to make people feel and aware that they can love; for it is by far the greatest gift of them all.

During the late 1990s, I was dreaming of creating my personal Pet Sounds as a hymn to my youth, to beauty that I have seen and known. Now, when I look back at my work, compiled as such, I feel as if I made it. I have reached the Pet Sounds summit. Going down now will be peaceful and light.

 

Vuk Uskoković, Ljubljana, February 19, 2006.  

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