Review Summary: Prog tinged Balkan folk/jazz from Croatia, full of invention and captivating melodies.
Sta Ima? (or What's Up ?) are a Croatian folk band that formed in 2006. They recorded a few demos before putting out their first full release 'Povedalinke' at the tail end of 2011.
I have labelled this as folk music but I will be perfectly honest and say that it defies any sort of succinct categorisation. There are elements of jazz, Balkan folk, prog, world music and classical music strewn about on this album. Suffice it to say that there are seven guys on here making a glorious noise that could appeal to anyone who enjoys any of the genres listed above. There is a jagged Russian folk feel to a lot of the rhythms with a dash of Ian Anderson style flute here and there and also some jazz and swing elements in the purely instrumental compositions. Captivating melodies weave in and out of the music but the band never seem to dwell on any particular theme or idea for very long. To take one piece as an example of the variety on offer I could choose 'Lagano je 5 do 6' with its bass led rhythm and ever so slightly honky-tonk piano tones which give way to 70's style prog organ sounds and early Mike Oldfield vibes and builds to a repeating motif that has a hint of Rush about it. All that in under four minutes. 'Planinska' starts with clean ringing electric guitar chimes and multi-tracked woodwind sounds and features a beautiful twisting melody set to the rhythm of a tarabuka. Halfway through the album 'Kineska močvara' greets you with an extended drum introduction that blends into a swinging jazz number with an infusion of Balkan folk.
There is so much invention going on in these short busy pieces that it is almost impossible not to be entertained. At times it almost feels like you are hearing one of those samplers where different highlights of an album are segued together to form a whole. I don't want to give the impression that the music does not flow with that last statement however because that is definitely not the case. This sounds like a group of guys who have played together so much that they are as tight and confident as they could possibly be.
I really cannot do justice to this music in a review. It just has to be heard. The album has been available as a free download on bandcamp for some time so you really have nothing to lose apart from some of your time in giving this a listen.