North Macedonian band Mizar are one of those act that have both been around forever as well as went through so many iterations that we might as well have been talking about multiple different bands. Still, seeing as the name, if not necessarily the song, remains the same, this here show is happy to introduce Mizar.
Mizar hail from North Macedonian capital of Skopje. Their tunes are a melange of dark wave, avantgarde and folk music, with a pinch of Orthodox Christian poetics. No wonder they took their name after a celestial body. Mizar, as some of you know, is the second star in the handle of the Big Dipper and has been used as a guiding point by those travelling deserts since time immemorial.
Mizar were formed in 1981 as an instrumental trio. The original lineup consisted of guitarist Gorazd Čapovski, bass player Valentin Zabjakin and Panta Džambazoski on drums. Ilija Stojanovski soon replaced Zabjakin with singer Risto Vrtev also joining the lineup. Thus Mizar got its first “canon” lineup. In its long history, Mizar went through five distinct periods or revelations, as they call them. In case you’re wondering where the Christian Orthodox thing comes in. Starting in 1985, the second and arguably most influential revelation began. The band parted ways with Risto Vrtev and took on Goran Tanevski as vocalist. Also adding Slobodan Stojkov on keyboards, they started experimenting with post-punk, dark wave and gothic rock. The sounds which most people still associate Mizar with.
Mizar’s second revelation lasted until about 1992 and during that time they released two very influential ablums: self-titled Mizar in 1988 and Svjat Dreams in 1991. But like so many other influential bands in Yugoslavia, they went under together with the country itself. Which was kind of ironic, because Yugoslav socialist authorities were always deeply suspicious of Mizar, as the band flaunted their Macedonian heritage and laced it with Orthodox Christian poetry. One would think that making the system nervous would make the band thrive in the post-Yugoslav conundrum. Apparently not.
A choir as the lead vocalist
It took more than a decade for Mizar’s third revelation to begin. The band reunited after a renewed interest in its work all over what by then was very much former Yugoslavia. Goran Trajkoski, who played keyboards in one of the lineup versions a decade earlier returned as the lead vocalist and Mizar started a victory lap, during which they released two additional albums in a short period of time.
Mizar’s fourth relevation began soon after Goran Tanevski reappeared and even sooner again left the band as its vocalist. This time, the band replaced their lead vocalist with an entire choir. Harmosini sang Byzantine lryics and this, too, lead to the release of two new albums. And finally, a couple of months ago, Mizar released their sixth album. In their fifth revelation they replaced the choir with Jana Burčeska, finally adding a prominent female voice to their lineup.
Check out Mizar on YouTube, Spotify and wherever you get your music from. Balkan Express will be back next week.
Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of, you guessed it, the Balkans. Forget gusle and tamburice, this show is about rock, pop and a sense of humour. Well, at least there’s guitars. On air most Tuesdays in a new-and-improved time-slot at 1100 hrs. Usually. Your train conductor is Aljaž (aka @pengovsky) who once did the world a solid and decided never to sing again in public. Which is why he ended up doing radio.
TuesdaysWith : Aljaž Every Tuesday at 10.00
Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of the Balkans.