The dry scraping of a bruised cello announces the track, and pulls you straight in from whatever happy place you were, to a sudden and all-pervading landscape of paranoia, darkness and dreadful premonitions.
A moment later Niko Novak’s voice (think Leonard Cohen at his darkest) begins to tell us in a calm, measured, doomsday baritone of all that is coming down on us. Of waking up from a mouth-dry sleep where he is running through dreams, to feel that he is as lost as ever. To observe wryly that killing the drinking might kill this laden atmosphere. There is – of course – a sense however that it is all too late.
Niko Novak is a Slovenian “lone bluesman with a signature baritone” (ment.si). He is a voice foretelling of doom. In his brighter moments he sings songs with titles like “Clean Sheets, Full Fridge”. But mostly song titles are things like “Pavlov’s Dog”, “Gloomy Sundy Revisited” and “Vultures”. Niko has spent time in Berlin and was a leading light in the Slovenian musical landscape with his punk band Nicky B. Hardy from ’94 until 2001. Now he remains behind to help us not forget that the darkness is only a step behind us.
If you’re fed up (especially in this leading-up-to-xmas-time of writing) with the prettily pointless, the garishly glittering, the baubles and modern-day soulless, sweat-factory bric-a-brac, Niko Novak has come to release you from any semblance of cloying, sickly-sweet hopefulness. No, Niko Novak has come to you from the darkness, the one that resides in yourself.
Favourite line: “and here I am / guilt-ridden / in a Herz rental car”
Main photo by Simao Bessa