Iztok Koren solo

Iztok Koren 3 (foto Urška Ivanovič Sobočan)

The project, started in spring 2020 during lockdown.

Below are the introduction of the first and second album in english and slovene.

2nd Album: Praznina / Emptiness

Release date: april 1st 2023

Format: digital and CD

Bandcamp: https://iztokkoren.bandcamp.com/album/praznina-emptiness?label=3596508191&tab=music




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Iztok Koren – Praznina SLO

Praznina je drugi solo album multiinstrumentalista Iztoka Korena, sicer člana zasedb Širom, Škm banda in Hexenbrutal.

Album je nastal kot posledica iztiska blokirane kreativne energije, in sicer v okoliščinah, ko bi morala zasedba Širom odpotovati v Sarajevo in tam ustvarjati glasbo za gledališko predstavo Bordel Eden režiserke Mirjane Medojević, kar pa se tik pred zdajci zaradi višje sile ni zgodilo. Avtor se je tako odločil, da bo blokiran tok usmeril v kreiranje novega solo glasbenega materiala in tako v enem dnevu, 7. 5. 2022, v osamljeni koči v zasavskih hribih posnel album Praznina. Glasba iz Praznine se je nato uporabila v gledališki predstavi Bordel Eden.

Iztok se na albumu poleg omenjenega odpiranja ventilov ukvarja tudi z vprašanjem prenasičenosti, osebnih moralnih dilem, notranjih konfliktov in iskanja poti iz njih, občutka preokupiranosti in težnje po nujni uvedbi sprememb v življenju, ki pa se lahko zgodijo le, če se najprej za njih naredi prostor - se pravi, da se odstranijo škodljivi elementi in se ustvari stanje praznine. Praznina je nujen pogoj za prekinitev nastajanja škode, ponovnega zbližanja s samim seboj, prečiščenja in trezne etične ocene svojih ravnanj, prevzemanja odgovornosti za svoja dejanja, ugotovitve komu in čemu zares pripadaš in kako naprej voditi svoje življenje v pravo smer.

Album je poslan v svet z namenom, da glasba, ki je nastala v tistem obdobju, samostojno zaživi drugo življenje in se s tem odcepi od povezanosti s takratnimi osebnimi okoliščinami avtorja. Umetnost naj bo družbena last.

Vse skladbe na albumu je odigral Iztok Koren in posnel brez nasnemavanja na bendžu, tri-struskem bendžu, gembriju, električni kitari, modularnem sintetizatorju, efekt pedalih, kontaktnih mikrofonih, tolkalih, jeklenem bobnu in balafonu.

Likovno delo za naslovnico je ustvarila Klara Vrtačnik, oblikoval pa jo je Tommaso Rolando.

Mix in mastering je naredil Dejan Lapanja.

Album Praznina bo izšel 1. 4. 2023 pri italijanski založbi Torto Editions, ki je v preteklosti že izdala Korenov prvenec Osamljene hvalnice in stebri praznine ter vinilno verzijo prvega albuma zasedbe Širom I.

Iztok Koren – Emptiness ENG

Emptiness is the second solo record by multi-instrumentalist Iztok Koren, a member of the bands Širom, Škm banda and Hexenbrutal.

A result of an outpouring of pent-up creative energy, the album came about after a last-minute force majeure cancellation of a Širom trip to Sarajevo, where the band was to make music for the theatre show Bordel Eden by director Mirjana Medojević. The musician decided to channel his blocked creative flow into new solo material and ended up recording Emptiness in a single day, 7 May 2022, at a secluded hut in the hills of the Zasavje region. The music from Emptiness was eventually used in Bordel Eden.

In addition to the mentioned venting, Iztok’s explorations on the album address the issue of oversaturation, personal moral dilemmas, internal conflicts and the search for a way out of them, overload problems and the urge to introduce changes that cannot happen unless space is secured first – i.e. unless harmful elements are removed and a state of emptiness is created. Emptiness is a necessary condition to stop the damage, to reconnect with oneself, to be cleansed and make a sober ethical assessment of one's actions, to take responsibility for one's actions, to find out who and what you really belong to and how to steer your life in the right direction.

The record is being sent out into the world with the intention of having the music created in that period live an independent second life and become detached from the author’s personal circumstances at the time. Art should be part of the commons.

All the tracks on the record were performed by Iztok Koren without overdubs, using a banjo, a three-string banjo, a guembri, electric guitar, modular synthesizer, effects pedals, contact microphones, percussion, a steel drum and a balafon.

The cover artwork was created by Klara Vrtačnik and the album designed by Tommaso Rolando.

Mixing and mastering by Dejan Lapanja.

Emptiness will be released on 1 April 2023 with the Italian label Torto Editions, which previously released Koren's debut album Lonely Hymns and Pillars of Emptiness and a vinyl version of the debut record by the band Širom.


1st Album: Osamljene hvalnice in stebri praznine / Lonely Hymns and Pillars of Emptiness

Release date: April 1st 2021

Format: digital and CD

Video Fire is Armor


Label/buy album




Booking: ROK booking & management


Short introduction text:

The debut release by Slovenian musical polymath Iztok Koren, best known for his work in avante-

folk outfits Širom, Škm banda and Hexenbrutal. Made in the heat of 2020’s lockdown, Iztok

transmutes the intensity of the period into 6 pieces that senstively unfurl over time. With various

stringed instruments and field recordings in hand, he weaves his interests in Slovenian mysticism,

ancient Chinese divination texts, his family and his new found love of nature, revealing an intimate

snapshot of life up-close.


Iztok Koren's introduction to ’Lonely Hymns and Pillars of Emptiness’:

Since 2000 i've been active in several bands and projects (Širom, Škm banda, Hexenbrutal etc.), but

this is the first time i’ve released any solo material.

During spring lockdown 2020 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, I created six compositions for banjo, prepared

3-string banjo, acoustic guitar and field recordings. I carved material at home in my bathroom. That

was the only place where I didn't bother my partner and two years old daughter during their sleep.

Luckily the acoustics were great.

The idea for a solo project matured over several years, but the final push to bring it into fruition was

courtesy of my friend Raphael Roginski. His encouragement to take this step gave me faith and

boosted my motivation.The initial inspiration for the music came from contemplating the possibilities of overcoming my feelings of selfishness, stubbornness, anger, guilt, regret and envy, and reading ancient Chinese text Yi Jing. A big inspiration also came from the melancholic mysticism of flatland Prekmurje (north-east part of Slovenia, close to Hungary) where I was born and spent my childhood: a place which has always aroused feelings of nostalgia, homesickness and splitness for me.

Lockdown in spring was crucial for finalizing my album. That period was very strange. I had a

feeling that my life was shrinking into a small bubble. Different aspects of daily living started to

coexist and influence one another. Feelings and moods shifted very fast: Job, family life, intimate

partner life, free time, time to relax, time for music etc. All these different parts of daily life could

take place in a period of just a half an hour. That was very new for me.

With the creation process of this album I tried to grasp and hold onto feelings of being present, to be

"here and now", to accept my new reality, but also to be away from the everyday pressure of bad

news, worries about the future, and heaviness of emerging existential questions. I thought a lot

about the insignificance of human existence and tried to inhabit a more non anthropocentric and

holistic view on nature. Everything is part of nature - which will always find its balance - but this

balance may not be good for humans. And perhaps it’s ok like this. When I learned this, I felt

humility and humbleness emerge within me.

When living space and movement is shrunken, one can start to see new life emerged in what before

might have seemed rather boring or insignificant. For example, how daylight changes and paints

different color shades on the wall at different time of the day. Or how certain weather influences on

how plants in the garden and soil smell. Or how sounds of neighbours children playing resonates in

some places differently depending also on the wind blowing and air pressure. Or seeing beauty in

geometrical patterns in constellations of electric wires. Or echoing sound of lonely train in empty

city, or smell of hair after long walk, or dissonant music of creaking stairs, or the special sound of a

daughter's voice when she's just woken up. All those new sensations built for me new mental

images, which filled my mind during the creation process, and also became material for the songs.

As part of the album I included field recordings which were all taken during the spring and summer

of 2020, except the excerpt of an interview with my uncle included in The Plain Does Not Give

Way. My uncle lives in a small village in Prekmurje region, living a very ascetic life full of

sacrifice, renunciation and deep faith. I talked with him about local folklore, myths and stories

about witches and ghosts. During the conversation there was one very interesting part where he was

talking about 10 signs which will announce forthcoming apocalypse. One of those signs started to

appear recently in his dreams. He started speaking in a dialect which is hard other Slovene people to

understand. That interview took place in beggining of 2019.

Then spring lockdown in Slovenia was over and I was able to go into the studio. With Chris

Eckman as a producer I recorded in one day (15th august 2020) six partly improvised compositions.

That recording process was very intense for me. I felt a big emptiness after the session and I didn't

touch my instruments for a month. Luckily my energy now came back and I'm looking forward to

seeing how this material will shape itselves during live performances.

Iztok Koren, November, 2020



Uvod v "Osamljene hvalnice in stebri praznine"

Z glasbo se ukvarjam od leta 2000, sem samouk. Aktiven sem v skupinah Širom, Škm banda, Hexenbrutal in drugih občasnih projektih, tokrat pa prvič predstavljam svoj samostojni izdelek.

Med spomladanskim zaprtjem javnega življenja zaradi preventivnih ukrepov za zajezitev novega korona virusa sem ustvaril šest kompozicij za bendžo, tristrunski bendžo, akustično kitaro in terenske posnetke. Material sem oblikoval doma v svoji kopalnici, večinoma ponoči, ko sta moja partnerica in dvoletna hčerka spali. To je bil namreč edini prostor v hiši, kjer ju »hrup« ni dosegel in motil. Na srečo je bila tudi akustika med keramičnimi ploščicami odlična.

Zamisel o samostojnem projektu je zorela več let, zadnji potisk, vero in motivacijo za njegovo uresničitev pa mi je s svojim vztrajnim vzpodbujanjem prispeval prijatelj in kitarist Raphael Roginski, ki ga zelo cenim.

Ker sem bil prvič v situaciji, ko nisem bil vezan na druge ljudi, sem se odločil, da bo to zelo intimna in subjektivna izpoved. Umetnost dojemam kot dober medij, edinstven jezik, s pomočjo katerega se lahko lažje soočam z določenimi čustvi ali mislimi, do katerih sicer težje dostopam zaradi raznih ovir, kot so sram, strah, odpor, nezavedanje ipd.

Začetni navdih za glasbo sem tako črpal iz premišljevanj o možnostih in načrtih preseganja mojih stalno porajajočih se čustev sebičnosti, trme, jeze, krivde, obžalovanja in zavisti. Le-to je tudi lepo sovpadalo s takratnim branjem čudovitega starodavnega kitajskega besedila Yi Jing. K moji inspiraciji je veliko prispevala tudi patetika prekmurske mistike, nenavadno navdušenje nad ravnico ter kraj mojega rojstva in odraščanja, kateri mi zmeraj vzbujajo občutke nostalgije, domotožja in razcepljenosti.

Obdobje spomladanskega »lockdowna« je bilo ključnega pomena za dokončanje albuma. To je bil zelo čuden čas. Imel sem občutek, da se moje življenje krči v majhen mehurček in različni, prej ločeni, vidiki vsakdanjega življenja začenjajo tesno sobivati in vplivati drug na drugega. Občutja in razpoloženja so se zelo hitro spreminjala: služba, družinsko življenje, intimno partnersko življenje, prosti čas, čas za sprostitev, čas za glasbo ipd. Vse to se je lahko iz trenutka v trenutek vrtoglavo menjavalo. To je bilo zame zelo novo.

Z ustvarjanjem tega albuma sem poskušal čim bolj zapopasti in negovati občutek prisotnosti, biti "tukaj in zdaj", da bi lahko s pomočjo le-tega nato bolj polno sprejemal svojo novo resničnost, prav tako pa jo tudi pozabljal in si oddahnil od pritiska vsakodnevnih slabih novic, skrbi za prihodnost ter teže porajajočih se eksistencialnih vprašanj. Poskušal sem se navaditi na bolj holističen in ne-antropocentričen pogled na naravo, stvarnost, »resničnost«. Vse je del narave ,ki bo vedno našla svoje ravnovesje, ampak to ravnovesje morda ne bo dobro za ljudi. In v redu je tako. Ko sem se tega učil in privajal, sem začenjal občutiti ponižnosti in skromnosti ter začel verjeti, da je to prava smer k več stika s trenutno stvarnostjo polnemu življenju.

Ko se življenjski prostor in gibanje skrčita, lahko začne posameznik videti tudi novo življenje in novo estetiko v detajlih, ki so se mu morda prej zdeli dolgočasni, nepomembni, neopazni. Na primer, kako spreminjajoča se sončna svetloba ob različnih urah dneva oblikuje različne odtenke in riše vzorce na steni. Ali kako vpliva vreme na vonj rastlin in zemlje. Ali kako različno odzvanjajo, pojenjujejo ali se jačajo vzkliki igrivih sosedovih otrok glede na moč pihanja vetra in zračni tlak. Naenkrat postane opazna lepota geometrijskih vzorcev v križanjih električnih žic in odbijajoči odmev piščalke samotnega vlaka v praznem mesto, vonj las po dolgem sprehodu, disonančna glasba škripajočih stopnic, barva hčerkinega glas, ko se prebuja. Vse te nove senzacije so mi polnile misli med postopkom ustvarjanja in postajale tudi gradivo za moje kompozicije.

V album sem vključil tudi terenske posnetke, ki so bili posneti spomladi in poleti 2020, razen izvlečka intervjuja z mojim stricem, vključenega v kompozicijo Ravnica ne popušča / The Plain Does not Give Way.

Moj stric živi v majhni vasici v Prekmurju asketsko, žrtev, odrekanja in globoke vere polno življenje. Z njim, babico in teto sem se pogovarjal o lokalni folklori ter mitih in zgodbah o čarovnicah in duhovih. Med pogovorom je bil zelo zanimiv trenutek, ko je debato naneslo na deset znakov, ki bodo naznanili prihajajočo apokalipso. Stric je povedal, da se mu je eden od le-teh nedavno začel pojavljati tudi v njegovih sanjah. Ta intervju je bil posnet v začetku leta 2019.

Ko se je spomladanski »lockdown« v Sloveniji končal, sem končno lahko šel v studio. S Chrisom Eckman, kot producentom, sem v enem dnevu, t. j. 15. avgusta 2020, posnel šest delno improviziranih kompozicij. Postopek snemanja je bil zame zelo intenziven. Po njem se je v meni pojavila praznina in dober mesec dni se sploh nisem mogel dotakniti svojih inštrumentov. Počutil sem se izpraznjenega. Na srečo se je moja energija sedaj vrnila in z velikim zanimanjem pričakujem, da začnem spoznavati, kako bodo skladbe zaživele svoje lastno življenje v javnosti, med ljudmi in ob živih nastopih.

Iztok Koren, november 20