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Recorded in studio "S", Zemun, Yugoslavia, during 2000.
Produced, arranged, composed and performed by Alexander Sopchek.
Post production:
"Music on!" studio, Belgrade and
"Messy Production", London

artist page

Masks is Sopchek's first album for Cosmic Sounds and is entirely dedicated to Africa, particularly Kenya and Tanzania. All the tracks are based on original local stories and are almost short documentaries. Sopcheck's approach to African music is the most original I've heard so far. Although everything sounds so fresh, full of Jazz, Funk and even Drum'n  Bass, he succeeded to preserve the roots and original African atmosphere. None of the styles is prevailing. Everything is blended so nicely into original and from now on very recognizable Sopchek's style.     Zeljko Kerleta  2000
DESTINY DAWN (Song of courage)
02 COCONUT (Man must work in order to be strong) 
03 AKAMBA (Witch doctor)
04 ERASTO (The thief was finaly arrested)  7:50
VUGO (Wedding)  6:55
DODO (Funeral dance)  6:09
INTO THE NIGHT (Evil ones Are drawn out)


JAZZWISE March 2001, issue 40, page 8.
COOLEST PLACE ON THE PLANET? Move over, Oslo. Come in Belgrade. Yep, hours of fun here at JW playing 'spot the sample' on the inspirational, African chant-inspired Masks from Alexander Sopchek. Gleaming freshly cut nu-jazz out of eastern Europe by way Cosmic Sounds London (a label better known to jazz fans for it's superb sides by Dusko Gojkovic). Check it out...

PETER KRUDER G-Stone Recordings
"I don't know if i got those Cd s sent or if somebody gave them to me at a gig, but i sure know that they are wonderful. I really dig the Alexander Sopchek album.Very special no boundaries music. Also the Belgrade's Burning Compilation has some fantastic moments...So i just wanted to tell you that i'll appreciate the vibe..."

STRAIGHT NO CHASER /spring 2001/ page 70
Two from the independent Cosmic Sounds label ran by jazz enthusiast Zeljko Kerleta from Belgrade. Field trips led him to discover all these artists feverishly working outside the main streamand lacking an outlet for their productivity-until now. The vibe is on amalgam of inspirations, be it jazz, African. local folk, electro and dance. Alexander Sopchek's 'Destiny Dawn' is the first track from the compilation and his own long player 'Masks'. It's his personal homage to Africa, inspired by Pigmy melodies and the tribal rituals of Kenyan tribes resulting in spacey trip hop colours with roots planted firmly in the Motherland's soil...

WIRE /March 2001/ page 36 - Global
File under clever bastard beatnik shit, or something this is an oddity. Sopchek is throwing a virtual party in his studio just outside Belgrade, Yugoslavia. He has invited African pygmies, a witch doctor, half a Kenyan tribe, a jazz group with brass section and a set of pedigree drum loops. In other words this is a solo album cunningly assembled from scraps and samples by a producer who loves jazz and African music. Now my theory is that if you work in this way, your music will ultimately be banal, but Sopchek has so much flair and sheer, big hearted vibe that he comes within a hair's breadth of proving me wrong. The album is infectious. It's a world away from the unspeakable Deep Forest. Perfect for your next loud party, especially if you're inviting clever bastard beatniks. (Clive Bell)

JAZZ AT RONNIE SCOTT'S / no.129, March/April 2001/  'Making Waves' on page 10 /
Back to Africa: Unbelievable vibe coming direct from Eastern Europe via Belgrade thanks to Zeljko Kerleta's Cosmic Sounds London label. Alexander Sopchek's African-inspired Masks stops you in your tracks. The briliant sampling is taken from just two jazz albums. Spot the George Benson played backwards. (Chrissie Murray, editor of Jazzwise)

A wonderful crossover of styles -- recorded by Yugoslavian producer Alexander Sopcheck, but influenced strongly by mode of African rhythms, all filtered through a European remix sensibility to give the record a fresh modern sound. There's a heck of a lot of percussion on the set, all looped and layered, in a mode that we might call "downtempo Afro Funk". 

PLASTIKS magazine, Belgium (issue 46, page 61) [in Flamish]
Zemun, een voorstad van Belgrado, is plaats waar Zeljko Kerleta (platenbaas van Cosmic Sounds, London) en creatieveling Alexander Sopchek elkaar ontmoeten. Deze 41-jarige jazzgitarist / documentaire maker zocht sinds lang een gelegeheid om zijn materiaal aan de man te brengen. Kerleta en Cosmic Sounds bewezen Sopcheks ‘right thing, right time and right place’ te zijn. Op ‘Masks’ vermengt Alexander Sopchek Afrikaanse klanken, vooral Kenyaanse en Tanzaniaaanse rituals, met jazz invloeden (Coltrane, Davis, Montgomery, Metheny en Weather Report). Dat resulteerde in een fris en origineel album: straight uptempo afrogroove ‘Destiny Dawn’, de exotische worksong ‘Coconut’, mellow magicsphere in ‘Akamba’, afrotriomf in ‘Erasto’ of breakbeatshuffle in ‘Vugo’…Een organische en levendige afro jazz colage. **** (jp)

Michael Rütten (Soulpatrol 101.4fm/99.85 Frankfurt)
All very good - like the idea behind it and the way it was transfered into the music. african roots melt into 2000 production standard and all make sense. Faves: Destiny Dawn, Akamba & Dodo

Equally inspired by Fela, Sun Ra, DJ Shadow and pygmy melodies, Alexander Sopcheck forges a new sound for a borderless future. The realization of Sopchek's musical dream was over 20 years in the making, but MASKS soul jazzy arrangements vamping over African polyrhythms rapt in the throes of a true funk groove arrive on the scene just in time. Who'd have thought that the deepest African record in recent memory would be delivered by a documentary maker from the Belgrade (as in Serbia) suburbs? Based on local stories from Kenya and Tanzania, each track on MASKS hacks through preconceived musical notions like a machete through the jungle underbrush, clearing new paths of sonic discovery. Follow Alexander Sopcheck, the unsung pioneer musical explorer, to the village circle ...the jazz club...the dancefloor

OK MAGAZINE, Yugoslavia
Na svojoj dugo osmišljavanoj ploči Aleksandar Sopček donosi obilje afričkih ritmova, kenijske i tanzanijske ritualne muzike. Vrlo egzotično... Autor je uspeo da izbegne zamku nemogućnosti da se atmosfera dalekih podneblja i načina života prezentuje, i da samim tim album učini odbojnim za slušaoce. Šta više, Sopček ne samo da uspeva u tome, već svaka tema i svaki instrument veoma bogato dočaravaju ambijent i podsećaju da je poskakivanje i iskonski ritam u svakom od nas, bez obzira na kom kontinentu živeli. Album Masks možda treba čuti pre albuma Leftism (Leftfield) i prve (najbolje) ploče projekta Deep Forest. Ono što je pomenutim umetnicima bila polazna ideja, Sopčeku je baza i nadgradnja. Bez preteranih aranžmanskih zahvata u odličnoj produkciji Aleksandar baca potpuno novo svetlo na područje o kojem smo od mnogih (uspešnih/neuspešnih) umetnika do sada čuli svašta. Na albumu je zabeležena jednostavnost života, svakodnevno buđenje, radost danu, životu, lovu, porodici, Suncu...To je dobar beg iz okruženja u koje smo sebe doveli tokom dvadesetog veka. Suviše naviknutim na prednosti savremenog života, takva jednostavnost bi nam sigurno brzo dosadila, ali je dobro znati da tako nešto na Zemlji još uvek postoji i da je tu atmosferu moguće doživeti slušajući ovu ploču... to je... kao... psihoterapija. Sopček će nam album prezentovati na predstojećem Cosmic Sounds festivalu i to bi trebalo da bude još jedan korak ka približavanju različitih kultura. Mislim da bi se ovim albumom rado pozabavili mnogi svetski DJ-evi jer Masks prosto VAPI za dobrim remiksima. Oni bi svakako Sopčekovu ideju približili aktuelnim klupskim i plesnim trendovima. Uroš Milovanović

In the lineage of Sun Ra, Fela and other unclassifiable artists, a musician from Beograd constructs his own sonic universe, rooted in the rhythms of Africa and branching out into future jazz. 7 tracks, no pigeonholes

Inspired by Pygmy's melodies and a variety of tribal rhythms, Alexander Sopchek offers this musical collage heavyly rooted in Kenyan tribe rituals. Great Afro Jazz!

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