Project Description


CD Catalogue of Memories

Avada Macbook Image

Produced by KACHARA in 2012.
Distributed by ReR MEGACORP.UK

1. Catalogue of Memories – part one- 5:55
2. Broken Happy…Dance- 7:15
3. The First Promenade- 5:15
4. Flying, flying…Dance- 5:47
5. The Second Promenade- 7:34
6. Catalogue of Memories – part two- 6:55
7. Rain Drops Tango- 5:26

Performed by New Ritual Ensemble:

Aleksandra Krčmar – I violin
Slobodanka Stević – piano
Svetlana Spajić – alto
Boris Kovač – reeds
Siniša Mazalica – double bass
Lav Kovač – drums / percussion
Saša Panić – basoon
Goran Penić – accordion
Jelena Filipović – viola
Jovanka Mazalica – II violin
Timea Kalmar – cello
Vukašin Mišković – classical guitar
guests: Milan Nenin, guitar (1), Ištvan Čik, percussion (9)

Recorded at the Synagogue, Novi Sad, and at Kachara MM Studio, Bukovac, in winter 2009/2010. Mixed at KACHARA MM Studio in Bukovac. Produced by Boris Kovač. Recorded and mixed by Boris Kovač, assisted by Ljuba Pejić. Original photos for the CD graphic design created by Dejan Djuragić. Photos of the musicians by DALE & VANJUS. Design by 33.
The production of the performance and recording of this music was supported by The Secretariat of Culture and Public Information of the Vojvodina Region. The production of this CD edition was supported by the City Councillor for Culture of Novi Sad.

Catalogue of Memories

More than a quarter of a century ago, during his first recordings as composer, musician and musical director, Boris Kovač used his Ritual Nova group to break many rules and destroy many boundaries…Being forever outside one’s time, denying time through one’s work is dangerous. This is an artist who gazes into the abyss, and the abyss looks away nervously.
Boris Kovač studied to be a philosopher but developed into a musician and composer… and should you go see him perform live today, he would be doing the only thing he was never taught to do: dance. 
Catalogue of Memories is a distilled package of his musical interests, a compendium of all the contemplations, rituals, dances and other movements he learned in much the same way he learned to play music – mostly on his own.
Catalogue of Memories celebrates musical memories from before we were born, while it also maps futures…It sets us free to be whoever we wish to be – even if only ourselves.
Uroš Smiljanić, from the CD booklet

Catalogue of Memories by Boris Kovač

More than a quarter of a century ago, during his first recordings as composer, musician and musical director, Boris Kovač used his Ritual Nova group to break many rules and destroy many boundaries. Springing forth from the worlds of jazz and improvised music, drawn to chamber composition, galvanized by the vast repository of images and memories integral to folk music and obsessed with myths whose truths are truer than truth itself (but not by any single mythology that tells only one facet of truth), Kovač entered the Yugoslav and international scene with a deeply personal music that spoke in a bold, universal language. Favouring an alchemical philosophy of combining disparate elements over an academic methodology… adhering more to the logic of dreams than to a postmodern approach… the rituals offered by Kovač could never be defined in historical or cultural terms; at most one could attempt to delineate them in “geographical” terms – in as much as one might perceive the ground one stands on and the air one breathes as sounds and harmonies.

No one knew how to classify this music, no one could even describe it.

In any case, those were other times.

Catalogue of Memories is a collection of music of another Boris Kovač… of a Boris Kovač who has spent more than a quarter of a century guiding others through his music and entrusting others with his music… of a Boris Kovač who was torn from the ground he stood on and who transformed the air for breathing, who tried to stop the wars with music and who mocked the apocalypse with dance… in order to give meaning to the end of History and Time. Ritual Nova and Catalogue of Memories are two different albums by two different people in two different countries in two different centuries, both connected by the one fact that neither can be classified or described – still today. Being forever outside one’s time, denying time through one’s work is dangerous. This is an artist who gazes into the abyss, and the abyss looks away nervously.

The philosopher who taught us to gaze into the abyss is the same one who asked other philosophers if they could dance. Boris Kovač studied to be a philosopher but developed into a musician and composer… and should you go see him perform live today, he would be doing the only thing he was never taught to do: dance.

The music Kovač was making in the nineties sought to battle the darkness of shifting paradigms and rouse the listener from decades of drunken slumber by being contemplative… by being so beautiful, it never had to get down and wrestle with ugliness but simply drove it from the ring in shame. Kovač went on to extend his range of interests, his choice of instruments, the palette of genres he painted with. He immersed himself in ecumenical teachings, interrogated the cosmos on the harmony of complementary contrasts, and he left his beloved Pannonia in order to return to it anew. Always in profound contact with the soil and its music, the composer knew how to evoke the sacred solitude of life in the lowlands, never stooping to vulgar nationalism or the provincial caricatures that “ethnic” (SIC!) music so frequently trips and falls into. “Personal yet universal” – this could have been his credo, as his music became progressively quieter, more graceful, leaving behind mere vibrations in the air, fickle traces that lead to meaning.

Then the nineties came to a halt with the spectacular First Remote-Controlled World War: the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Kovač could not continue speaking and playing softly while watching history repeat itself even after it already ended. Refusing to be defeated, he decided to triumph and entered the new century bringing along new music.

Kovač’s body of work from the first decade of the 21st century is deeply marked by the dance.  La Danza Apocalypsa Balcanica is a work that is almost aggressive in how it led his way out of chamber music, replacing contemplation with meditation in movement… saving souls with moving bodies, spiting death with life. His band La Campanella embraced this approach and rendered it more profound, more sophisticated, injecting Kovač’s music with new energy and boldness by marrying Middle European decadent dance with Latin flames, yet remaining deeply Pannonian to the end. Then came a renewed interest in chamber music marked by a double album simply entitled Chamber Music. This was followed by a return to a personal take on jazz and improvisation with the group Ultima Armonia.

And yet, in all this and throughout the years Kovač remained all he ever was…

Catalogue of Memories essentially draws a line, takes stock and, as suggested by its title, catalogues all the memories of everything that the author, musician, composer, dancer, philosopher Boris Kovač has accomplished in his life so far. Not a mere retrospective, certainly not a narcissistic homage to himself, Catalogue of Memories is a sum of Kovač’s contemplations, a distilled package of his musical interests, a compendium of all the dances and other movements he learned in much the same way he learned to play music – mostly on his own.

The marriage of the contemplative and the timeless on one hand with the physical, that which is determined by time – rhythm and tempo, – on the other is what characterises Catalogue of Memories most of all. The composer assembled a group of fifteen musicians, most of them his long-time friends who took part in past musical adventures that ranged from classical chamber works, to creations drawn from folk traditions, down to barroom dance pieces. Kovač never writes a note of music before he knows who will be playing it in the end. This versatile, multilayered album needed musicians who would make it sound like a logical whole – from the drummer and accordion player, down through the bassoonist and string players, on to the harpist, pianist, guitarist and singer. Kovač himself on winds and his son Lav on percussions are the cohesive force driving the music forwards.

As one listens to Catalogue of Memories, one hears the music itself learning how to dance – as in The First Promenade, which at first meanders softly, shyly, as the piano patters about throughout, but then, when the violin and saxophone enter, it suddenly places its hands on its hips and tosses its head back. And yet, it will not be possible to discern all the “steps” in the music at first go… The first two tracks jolt the listener with complex time signatures and contrasts in volume that end up sounding sublime, instead of aggressive. Catalogue of Memories – Part Two is especially intense in how it combines themes, rhythms and dynamics that hark back to Kovač’s first pieces in which he explored the ground between myth and dreams… but these new compositions do so more subtly this time, with even more grace.

Tango also returns in this album in Broken Happy… The dance comes on strong and resolute in Flying, flying… The dance moves with Pannonian tenderness and summoning ghosts for accompaniment regardless of the century on the calendar. The voice, so unusually featured in Ritual Nova recordings, is back again in the form of an instrument, shunning any verbal clarification of music but demanding to be clear on its own. The Dance is a language in itself, thoughts evolving into movement.  The Second Promenade is especially bold in eliminating boundaries between what is heard and what is imagined, its music so soft and slow that one will dance to it with eyes closed. Rain Drops Tango closes the album with passion and also with a wisp of melancholy that invokes questions rather than answers.

Catalogue of Memories celebrates musical memories of contemplations and dances from before we were born, while it also maps futures that extend not merely to the end of History itself but to the ends of all our personal histories. It sets us free to be whoever we wish to be – even if only ourselves. Contemplative but not indolent, playful but not vulgar, it does not even need to put ugliness to shame this time: it has indeed absorbed it, made it part of the big picture, metamorphosed it into unexpected harmonic forms and broken rhythms without ever abandoning grace. No rules, Kovač remembers, no boundaries… Let cartographers deal with those – he is too busy cataloguing his memories and finding in them things he never remembers remembering. How many future memories can we expect from a man talking about drawing a line and going into musical retirement? To judge by his latest live performances in which he dances ever more fiercely, plays ever more fervently – we could say that Boris is only just embarking on his memories.

So, make a cup of a warm tea, we will be here for quite a while…

Uroš Smiljanić, Belgrade, December 2012.
Translated in English – Uroš Smiljanić.
English language lecture and final touch by Nora Hoppe.


“There are those special artists whose entire musical careers accompany one throughout one’s life… Boris Kovač has, with all this, achieved a legendary status with his variegated, exceptional and dazzling music… Because of the magical and mysterious elements in his music, no classification is successful. His ‘Catalogue of Memories’, a musical opus full of nostalgic and melancholic memories that strike deep chords, lifts one out of time and transports one from reality. It is an extraordinary, enchanting masterpiece – a world record in all respects.”
Jan Willem Broek

Catalogue of Memories
There are those special artists that have been with you throughout your entire musical career, or at least a substantial part there of. In my early years as a reviewer, say from the start of the 90s in the last century, that is the Serbian, then Yugoslavian composer / multi-instrumentalist (usually on saxophone or clarinet and sometimes vocals) Boris Kovač. Kovač has been active since 1977 in the jazz group Meta Sekcija and forms Ritual Nova ensemble in 1982, consisting of like-minded musicians, visual artists, performers and dancers. With this ensemble he mainly makes avant-garde works with classical and folk influences. In 1986 and 1989, their results appear on the albums Ritual Nova I and II, which in turn appear bundled on CD in 1993. I was introduced to this great artist in 1991 when his CD Profana Liturgija was released. After that he escaped his war-ravaged country to continue making music from Italy, Slovenia and Austria. His works come from small but high quality labels like Møre Music and Interzone / Ikarus. Besides he has always been on innovative labels like ReR, Piranha, Victo and later on his own label Kachara. He usually moves through genres like avant-garde, dark cabaret, classical, folk, ethnic music and experimental music, where you always hear Eastern European influences resound; not only Yugoslav but also Bulgarian, Hungarian and Romanian. His homeland resurrects in 1999 after many bombings he starts his LaDaABa Orchest, which stands for La Danza Apocalyptica Balcanica. With this Orchestra he makes music in 2001 and 2003 which connects in an alternative way to the hyped Balkan Beats, and through this they dance in a conceptual way the war out of their system. That there is always a melancholy undertone present in his works is not more than logical. His musical path then continues with the ensemble La Campanella, which does meet his previous work. It is a special goulash of folk, Balkan music, jazz, blues, tangos, dark cabaret and avant-garde, with which the music of his native region of Vojvodina is strongly represented. Vojvodina is a central multicultural area in the Balkans where free-mindedness and diverse influences dominate from the East and West. Hence at certain times scraps of themes from the Far East, South America and Africa surface. The latest CD from them appeared last year, just like his experimental collaboration with the Armenian accordionist David Yengibarian. Boris Kovač has with all this achieved a legendary status with alternating, leading and wonderful music as a result.

Now his sixteenth album Catalogue Of Memories is published under his own name. Kovač plays soprano and alto saxophone, and is accompanied by the New Ritual Ensemble, which in terms of naming is like his previous Ritual Nova Ensemble but in composition differs. Besides Kovač there are 12 musicians who play violin, piano, bass, viola, bassoon, percussion, drums, contralto voice, classical guitar, cello, harp and accordion and also 3 guests on trombone, classical guitar and percussion. The music is in a strange way connected with the afore mentioned Ritual Nova albums although the composer has become a different person and the music has been created in two different countries (by splitting) and two different centuries. But the music has again the not to be categorized mysterious aspect. It is possible to find the separate aspects but the whole transcends many boundaries. Kovač has composed seven pieces, together lasting 45 minutes. He has made a cinematic cross-pollination of avant-garde, brass, tango, jazz, chamber music, neoclassical, Roma and Balkan music in which the ingredients in varying combinations pass by. Everything is imbued with an extremely gloomy, nocturnal and also romantic atmosphere. Contemplative music, partly because of that romantic aspect is always easily accessible. The music has similarities with the more subdued Tuxedomoon, but also elements of Ennio Morricone, Mostar Sevdah Reunion, Astor Piazzolla, Owain Phyfe, Goran Bregović, Arve Henriksen and Stevan Stojanovic Mokranjac seep through in disarmed, hushed and still passionate splendor. But because of the magical and mysterious element in his music, no comparison is successful. A musical range full of nostalgic and melancholic memories that manages to touch deep chords, puts you right back in time and carries you away from reality. It has become an incredible, enchanting masterpiece; a world record in all respects.
Jan Willem Broek

In over 30 years of meticulous and inspired work Boris has evolved a compositional style that is both simple and timeless; rooted in his own locality and universal. That’s a rare gift. And his small, dedicated, ensemble produces an exquisite, floating exposition that is both intimate and impersonal – equally rare. This is great, timeless, music…
from the ReR catalogue of distributed CDs

“Catalogue of Memories” can be understood as a kind of summary of Kovac’s musical opus, but it also reflects a special stage of maturity of the creative man who is now in his late fifties… more melodic, harmonious and colourful than ever…
Boris Kovac has always cultivated melody. Here is his invention truly exemplary.
…Kovac has succeeded in creating a riveting and compelling mood thanks to the inspired melodies, lucid harmonic-counterpoint solutions and colourful arrangements.
And, finally, he remains very much the man he has always been as he has remained steadfast in his resistance to commercial and populist trends…”
Marija Vitas
Etnoumlje Magazine, Radio Belgrade II Programme

Pre nešto više od dve godine, da budemo prezicni, 25. januara 2011-te, u Kolarčevoj zadužbini, imali smo priliku da se, u okviru jednog složenog koncertnog programa Borisa Kovača, upoznamo i sa nekoliko kompozicija kojima je anticipiran nov album. Do objavljivanja tog očekivanog albuma, evo, prošlo je ne baš malo vremena. Međutim, razlog čekanju nikako ne treba tražiti u eventualnoj lenjosti ili nedostatku inspiracije umetnika. Upravo suprotno! Boris Kovač je veoma vredan i ispunjen, čini se, nepresušnim kreativnim nabojem. Tokom 2012. godine, albumu Katalog uspomena odnosno u originalu na engleskom Catalogue of Memories, prethodila su čak dva Kovačeva audio izdanja: On Eastern Way i Fly By, a da ne pominjemo još i brojne, raznovrsne koncertne saradnje i projekte. Najnovije izdanje, Katalog uspomena možemo da shvatimo kao svojevrstan Kovačev rezime sopstvenog umetničkog rada, ali i kao poseban stadijum zrelosti kreativnog čoveka koji je u svojim kasnim pedesetim melodičniji, harmoničniji i koloritniji nego ikad, sa prirodnom distancom prema revoluciji i buntu, te sa veoma suptilno osmišljenom ritmičkom komponentom.
Boris Kovač je oduvek sklon melodiji. Tu je njegova invencija zaista uzorna. Upravo u svežim, gipkim i razvijenim temama leži privlačnost Kovačeve muzike. Pritom, lepota ovih melodija ne završava se samo na dobrom sledu tonova, već i na savršeno muzikalnoj interpretaciji, kako Borisa Kovača, tako i drugih, pažljivo odabranih članova nekog od brojnih sastava u okviru kojih je on do sada realizovao ideje. Na albumu Katalog uspomena, Kovač sa pojavljuje sa „New Ritual” ansamblom i gostima, ukupno 16 muzičara. Već taj broj kao i izbor instrumenata odnosno vokala, obećava sofisticiranu harmoniju i poigravanje sa zvučnom bojom. Pomenemo li ovde opet izraženu melodičnost i, u vezi sa tim, logično prisustvo kontrapunktskog rada u aranžmanu, jasno je da je pred nama album koji čulo sluha hrani toplim vibracijama a u mozgu stvara prijatnu atmosferu i primamljive slike.
Katalog uspomena donosi sedam instrumentalnih numera. Prisustvo vokala u dve naslovne kompozicije: „Katalog uspomena” – prvi i drugi deo, svedeno je na vokalizacije koje, u svojoj osnovi, menjaju tipično predvodničku ulogu ljudskog glasa, pretvarajući ga u jedan od instrumenata i, posebno, u jednu od boja ansambla. Deonica vokala je u pomenutim kompozicijama čvrsto utkana u gustu aranžmansku celinu, dodajući sa svoje strane uzvišeno-dramsku crtu i monumentalnost koje, inače, ne predstavljaju dominantan izraz na albumu. Izbor Svetlane Spajić za sugestivnog tumača ove alt linije, deluje kao više nego mudar potez.
Boris Kovač je rođen u malom mestu kod Petrovaradina, po imenu Bukovac, gde i danas živi. Ipak, njegova muzika koja je u dobroj meri oslonjena na tradiciju, ne nosi osobine ruralne već naglašeno urbane tradicije. Možda je na to uticalo i školovanje u Novom Sadu i Beogradu, kao i nekoliko godina života i rada u inostranstvu. U svakom slučaju, Kovačev senzibilitet je tipično građanski. On ne spada u world music umetnike koji prizivaju pastoralnost brda, dolina i livada. Takođe, u ritmičnijim, pseudo-plesnim numerama, on ne veliča buran, južnjački temperament seoskih kola koja su, pak, česta inspiracija domaćim stvaraocima. Strast Kovačeve muzike je strast urbanog čoveka, čija je energija pritajena, napeta i sapeta pravilnikom građanskog vaspitanja i stila života, bar onog nekadašnjeg. Otud, okosnicu Kovačevog opusa pa tako i najnovijeg albuma, Katalog uspomena, čine dva izrazita predstavnika svetske urbane muzičke prošlosti – klezmer i tango – oba melanholična, nostalgična, ali i žilava. Karakteristična raspoloženja ovih muzičkih formi i izraza, naročito su uočljiva u numerama „Broken Happy…Dance”, „Flying, flying…Dance” i „Rain Drops Tango”.
Urbana prošlost u muzici Borisa Kovača, nije probuđena isključivo tango i klezmer elementima. Čak i u nagoveštajima bliže srpsko-balkanske tradicije, kao u numeri „Prva promenada”, naslućuje se, kao svesni ili nesvesni uzor, srpsko kolo – i to ne ono narodno, seosko, već duh srpske građanske igre sa kraja 19-tog i početka 20-tog veka. Kao i Prva, tako i „Druga promenada” ima svoje asocijacije na gradsku prošlost, oživljavajući zvuk i emociju nekakvog setnog i elegičnog pop-džez-šlagera sa vinila.
Pored Borisa Kovača na sopran i alt saksofonu i pomenute vokalne interpretatorke Svetlane Spajić, na albumu ”Katalog uspomena” učestvuju i Aleksandra Krčmar Ćulibrk i Jovanka Mazalica – violine, Slobodanka Stević – klavir, Siniša Mazalica – kontrabas, Jelena Filipović – viola, Saša Panić – fagot, Lav Kovač – bubnjevi i udaraljke, Vukašin Mišković – gitara, Timea Kalmar – čelo, Ivana Pavlović – harfa, Goran Penić – harmonika, Milan Nenin – gitara, Nikola Milanov – trombon i Ištvan Čik – udaraljke.
Za album Katalog uspomena ne može se reći da pomera temelje savremene muzike uopšte, pa tako i world music žanra u koji se Boris Kovač, hteo ne hteo, ubraja. Osim toga, pojedinim numerama na albumu nedostaje čvršća struktura, ili, kako bi se to u žargonu reklo, kičma, posebno ako uzmemo u obzir dužinu njihovih trajanja, koje se kreću od pet i po do sedam i po minuta. Ipak, ono što je izvesno – Boris Kovač je na još jednom svom albumu uspeo da stvori sjajnu i ubedljivu atmosferu, ambijent, upravo zahvaljujući nadahnutoj melodičnosti, lucidnim harmonsko-kontrapunktskim rešenjima i koloritnim aranžmanima. I, konačno, takav kakav jeste, sa stalnim otporom prema komercijalnom i populističkom, ali i očiglednom težnjom da bude prepoznat i shvaćen, Kovač predstavlja autentičnu ličnost na domaćoj sceni.