Dritero Nikqi

Porn-no’s downbeat tunes feel uplifting

While here in the “normal” world, politics keep brewing, the economy keeps rising or falling, and international relations follow trends beyond our control, young artists are producing and designing material that give us some much-needed spiritual elevation.

One recent example is the new album release of Prishtina’s unconventional band, Por-no. “Zhurmuesi” (meaning Radio Frequency Interference) is their fourth album, with a compilation of 10 songs, created over an extended span of time with varying sources of inspiration.

Por-no about to life, and issues of the most banal. Established in 2002, the band prefers not to address the origin of its name, likely intended to project the controversial nature of the band itself.

Packaged in recycled and stamped carton, “Zhurmuesi” emerged just on time after a long stretch without new releases, and was complemented with a great promotional gig in Prishtina. With Dritero Nikqi on the lead, vocals and guitar, Michael Hayes on the bass, Krenar Ismaili on solo violin, and Nesim Maxhuni on the drum set, Por-no’s live premiere of the laid back album raised to crescendo.

The album features a variety of downbeat tunes, yet they feel so uplifting. It’s different from the mainstream music were used to listen to in Kosovo. It’s music one would like to travel to. Some songs are out of character, but all the same prone to an inescapable dynamic cooked between the sliding guitar riffs and dramatized by the electric violin.

This music is not made to be understood, nor is it made to satiate an appetite for fast food music. The general feeling of the album vaguely reminds one of Radiohead, but it’s quite clear that the band’s work is original. Por-no professes that during the two years spent creating the album, they have not been listening to or confined themselves to any musicians or bands for inspiration. However, Nikqi, the founder of the band and initiator of the project, believes that his longtime muses, such as Tortoise and Moondog will always dwell in his subconscious and switch on some involuntary lights.

Nikqi explains that “Zhurmuesi” didn’t stick to any particular themes. Unlike Por-no’s 2005 album “Aeroplanat shkojne e vijne” (The planes come and go), which sang about isolation, “Zhurmuesi” is more open to interpretation. “This time we tried to give the audience something short and sweet and see how that works for them,” confesses Nikqi.

The authors have done justice to the album by placing it on iTunes and Amazon as alternative music. This is the alternative, and in Kosovo you often find yourself rather wanting to embody it.

Caught out somewhere between the concept of a band and a project, “Por-no” had to face the harsh rules of “band-dom” in Kosovo, which means constantly having to fight to keep one’s artist status while working another day job. Pushing and impelling their art forward, is just a routine for Por-no.

“It was about time for this album to happen” says Nikqi, “While it makes me really happy and enthused to explore the works of my friends and colleagues every day, works that come in different shapes of creativity, I felt compelled to have to give something in return.”

“I have figured out that work has to be finished, there can be no excuses” he continues, “while I have many projects pending in my studio, I realized that if I don’t push Por-no it isn’t got to happen, and this is often the case in Kosovo, we know how hard is to sustain and materialize artwork in Kosovo,” he adds.

Founded in 2002 by Nikqi and Rron Qena, Por-no was made up of many friends joining, leaving, and rejoining the band. Nikqi says that they each gave something special to their music, which pretty much defines the creative process of the band.

Nikqi admits that Por-no feels fortunate to be a part of the post-war alternative music scene which he feels is growing and accommodating new musicians with unique contributions.

If Por-no got you curious, you can find “Zhurmuesi” online on iTunes and Amazon –  or if you’re lucky, you’ll come across the limited copies of physical albums in Prishtina.

This article first appeared prishtinainsight.com/

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