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Širom 2019 Foto Uroš Abram.jpgŠirom, photographed by Uroš Abram on a traditional Slovenian barn, 2019

Širom is a mystical entity self-described as an "imaginary folk" act. They are currently one of the most internationally visible Slovenia bands, regularly touring Europe and beyond. Consisting of three self-taught musicians and experienced improvisers, their acoustic music ingeniously connects the dots between past and present, and takes inspiration from the realms of avant-folk, free improvisation and various global music traditions. The trio employs various techniques, practices and more than a dozen instruments, taking reference from vast libraries of ancient, new and made up sounds. With their imagination completely off the leash, Širom conjure some of the most thrilling and mysterious music of the moment. Their fourth album The Liquified Throne Of Simplicity received glowing reviews from various music media platforms and solidified their position as one of the most unique Slovenian post-independence bands.


The intertwining of diverse musical approaches and tools, histories of sounds and unbridled musical imagination and craftsmanship is the expansive guiding principle of the Širom trio, whose members stem from the regions of Prekmurje, Tolminsko and Kras. More than a dozen instruments can be found in the repertoire of Iztok Koren, Samo Kutin and Ana Kravanja and at least as many given musical forms that can be perceived as an inspiration behind the character of this new ensemble. However, in their practice as well as experience they remain anchored in their creative process to an extent that allows them to avoid merely reflecting existing patterns. What this generates in an original, stylistically homogeneous form of expression that oscillates between a wide array of folk sounds and contemporary acoustic rock-style meditations. The end result is grounded yet still mystical minimalism. Širom's music is contemplative, but can get harder when necessary, it is closer to being band- than chamber-like, to being street as opposed to urban in nature. Each member of Širom also performs in a myriad of other bands and music projects, such as ŠKM banda, Hexenbrutal, Najoua, Samo Gromofon, and Horda grdih.

Sirom-2021-Foto-Uros-Abram-4.jpgŠirom, a mystical entity self-described as an imaginary folk act representing the rural underground, photographed by Uroš Abram, 2021

Širom’s musical expression is informed by a nexus of historical circumstances, local and global traditions and distinct personal sensibilities. While its members Samo Kutin and Ana Kravanja come from the western part of Slovenia (the former from the idyllic Alpine foothills of Tolminsko region and the latter from the Karst Plateau, known for its expansive underground cave systems), Iztok Koren is the son of the flatlands surrounding the Mura River in the northeasternmost part the country. The invisible forces of these breathtaking landscapes cannot be separated from the musicians’ inner landscapes, which ultimately take form in Širom’s esoteric soundscapes.

Like Vonnegut’s intergalactic time traveller Billy Pilgrim, Širom seem to be unstuck in time. Their imaginative pan-global music feels like a shortcut to astral travel, offering out-of-body experiences triggered by arcane sounds that make you revisit long-forgotten ancient rituals and traverse primaeval lands, all made up and fantastical, yet giving the impression of being based on some kind of tradition. Unsurprisingly, foreign journalists tend to think that they play a modernised version of Slovenian folk music, which could not be further from the truth. This is one of the reasons the band decided to adopt the genre tag imaginary folk (originally coined by Serge Moreux in the 1950s to refer to Bartók and Kodály’s creative approach to traditional Hungarian melodies). It’s folk music but it is not geographically determined. There is a connection with the Slovenian landscape, old folk tales and local mythologies.

The most outstanding characteristic of Širom are the diverse, exotic and obscure sound palettes and shiver-inducing timbres that make up their immersive soundscapes (hurdy-gurdy, banjo, tempura brač, ocarina, lyre, viola, balafon, ribab, mizmar etc.). Many of them come from unique homemade and prepared instruments (an acoustic resonator made from a spring and a frame drum) and found objects (bowls with rice).

Širom - The Liquified Throne of Simplicity (1000).jpgŠirom - The Liquified Throne of Simplicity (1000), album cover

Since their debut album I. (Klopotec/ZARŠ, 2016), they have been collaborating with the Slovenian academic painter Marko Jakše. His signature surrealistic illustrations, full of magical creatures, characters and landscapes, add another dimension to Širom’s music. The trio also puts a lot of emphasis on the track titles, which are constructed using a collective free-association writing technique. The albums that followed, Lahko sem glinena mesojedka (2017), Svet, ki speče konju cvet (2019), were both released on tak:til, the imprint of Glitterbeat Records. In 2019, they self-released a collaborative album with Japanese musician Yoshio Machida.

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