Dario | Nov 22, 2023 | 0
ТДК/TDK – Nemesta
“Nemesta” or “Non-places” is the third album of the Bulgarian band TDK and their most ambitious project to date, recorded in the cold Vancouver, Canada by Rain City Recorders. Everything is so polished and well-crafted, down to the artwork.
Before starting, I feel the need to bring some cultural insights for the non-Balkan listeners, from my humble understanding of it, of course. I’m no expert by any means, just a snobby 21 year old with an affinity for unusual art.
TDK’s music and overall aesthetic bases itself on a very important turn in Bulgarian history – the falling of the Soviet regimes during the early 90’s. That’s a huge cultural phenomenon and it has heavily impacted the nation and its psychology to this day. My generation wasn’t there to witness the horrors of the transition period firsthand, but we get to experience the collective trauma, directly inheriting it from our parents.
I have been following TDK since my early teens and even back then they had a strong vision of who they are and what they want to express, but with this one they truly engraved their name as one of the brightest stars of the current scene.
“Nemesta” is so dynamic and sonically diverse, especially compared to the band’s previous record “Uspeh”, which makes it sound so elevated. The chaos and the rawness expressed here mixed with the samples and lyrical references to the old Estrada tunes – that’s a great way to musically show the culture clash and the drastic shift of the idealized anti-utopian reality of the average Bulgarian around that time. An unsuccessful transition that has left a nation between worlds for decades, to the point where madness is slowly creeping over the depressed citizens.
My first time listening to the album was on the train, which couldn’t be a more perfect place to get fully immersed in its hopelessly depressive atmosphere. No other place screams “never ending post-socialist period” like BDZ.
We start off with ‘Petnaystkata’, greeted by some creaks and steps, until suddenly everything kicks in. The grand, Swans-esque intro shows us right away that this is going to be a wild ride. The lyrics, for those who even manage to catch them, describe some absurdist scene. It keeps getting weirder and weirder with each line with some tinges of religion and love sprinkled in. The whole scene ends with some implied police brutality, which is seemingly the theme of the next song.
Seemingly. I won’t even try to pretend that I understand what ‘Fiasko’ is about. But few things I can say about it – it’s in your face and has a great tempo change with the electronic part.
ТДК – Фиаско (Ало, полицията ли е?) / Fiasko (Alo, policiyata li e?) – live at Rain City Recorders
‘Avtomontyora’ starts out with one of the many Estrada song references, which works so, so well with the progressively tenser post rock atmosphere. The melody is intense and emotionally charged, as the lyrics show a monologue/dialogue between an exhausted worker and his boss. One line stood out to me right away “Коя е най високата летва от която мога да висна, началник?/What’s the highest bar I can hang from, boss?”. Chills.
The song ends with a sample from another well-known song, “Ivane”, which is also the namesake for the following track.
ТДК – Иване / TDK – Ivane
I wasn’t prepared for this gut-punching experience. The song paints a portrait of Ivan. Ivan, seemingly, is an archetype, he is that one pathetic part of society. So pathetic, he can’t even kill himself. He’s a sad, miserable, hollow shell of a man, awaiting death to end his monotone life. The voice critiques Ivan’s life and brings some words of truth – “Смъртта не е липса на живот, а липса на желание/ Death is not the absence of life, it’s the absence of desire”
A hinted tragic love theme sneaks up here cleverly with the “…луд съм, луд съм още по тебе аз/…I’m mad, I’m mad, I’m still mad about you”.
The tone for the next song is set by the awesome eerie saxophone in the beginning. The entire track feels like bitter nostalgia mixed with manic episodes. Here we get a bit more insight about a failed relationship, perhaps the one vaguely referenced in the previous songs, perhaps one of the many misfortunes that brought someone to the edge of insanity.
The closing track with the cheeky name – “Theksatachetoha” – starts off with that peaceful flute melody. The curtain is slowly falling down under the mellow sound of the outro song while some cackling can be heard in the background, leaving some room for the listener to gather his thoughts and reflect on whatever in the name of God happened in the last 30 minutes.
“Well that’s it, that’s it… that’s the end… everything’s going to be alright…” – reassures us Nikola Nikolov. But is it really?
With “Nemesta” you get to experience a wide range of emotions, even without understanding the lyrics. I can already smell the pretentious suburban middle class /mu/ users claiming it. “So sovietcore”.
In all seriousness, it is very important to me that music of that class is my native language and it’s engaging foreign audience very shortly after its release. A lot of Bulgarian bands seek success through singing in English, and this is a great example that you can make it without forcing yourself to fill a certain globalized mold. Can’t wait to see what’s next in store for TDK.
- Fiasko (Alo, policiyata li e?)
- Kazvaha (nishto ot tova, koeto pravish, nyama znachenie, ti si neshtastnik, umri!)