Sunken Treasure: Bosnian accordionist Mario Batkovic

Bridging the traditional and the modern can be a testing challenge, but Mario Batkovic passes with flying colours

 

Bridging the traditional and the modern can be a testing challenge. It takes more than just skill to adapt older forms and reimiagine them in such a new way that they sound better again. It’s hard to put the original into the traditional. It’s a bridge upon which many musical ideas perish.

Mario Batkovic passes that test with flying colours. I’ve been lucky enough to see him play live and I can attest that he stretches the sonic possibilities of his instrument, the accordion, to within an inch of its life. The sound he achieves is immense. It pays no heed to limitations. Instead it extends the range of possibilities towards wild new frontiers. As journeys into sound go, this one is interstellar.

Although most of the tunes he plays are original compositions, the music is indelibly coloured with the Balkan folk music he grew up listening to in Bosnia. He started playing aged four without any formal instruction. The passion he invests in what he does now comes from somewhere deep within. The very best artists perform in way that makes it look like they were born to do it. He’s one of those.

At times, it sounds like there are other instruments involved, so nuanced with an array of different colours is the sound. He pushes the squeezebox so far it can sometimes come across like low-end distorted feedback then by turn, it’ll switch into the most delicate of places. All the turns are negotiated with masterful ease. There’s beauty in all of it. That’s the beauty of it.

That’s the thing with the true innovators. Not only can the see where they want to go, they also know how to make sure the listener can follow. It’s a thin line that separates the experimental from the obscure.

This is as accessible as it gets while being challenging and brave in significant ways. Paying attention to the detail is so enjoyable. He invests so much in his art. Listening is our reward.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.