Elina Duni & Retrovizorja

A young Albanian immigrant discovered the group Retrovizorja during a typical teenage bout of existential uncertainty. Their music ached, desperately to belong to something. It’s ambience, unease, and provocative lyrics were the first to trigger an interest in indie music coming from the Albanian diaspora.

After years of sharing Retrovizorja songs with college friends and coworkers, I finally met some of the musicians that gave so much hope and meaning to life back home in Milwaukee.

Elina Duni, the vocalist, was recently in Prishtina touring with her Jazz quartet, a group based out of Switzerland where she grew up. The Elina Duni Quartet with Colin Vallon on piano, Patrice Moret on double bass and Norbert Pfammatter on drums, “represents a return to her musical sources, a combination of Balkan folk songs and jazz”. I was able to sneak an interview with her just before her dress rehearsal.


“I’m very touched by how Kosovo people feel music. They live it. They love it.” – Elina Duni

Elina’s vocals are featured in Retrovizorja, the Prishtina based group consisting of the duo Bashkim Salihu and Kreshnik Hoti. Their new album I Kalter (Blue) features a song, “Guret Treten (Rocks Dissolve)”, about war-time violation of a woman. The text is written from the perspective of the woman.

  • Listen to: Guret Treten (Rocks Dissolve):

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  • Rocks Dissolve (Original text written by Elina Duni, translated to English by bandmate Kreshnik Hoti)

    All the flowers withered in my garden
    When suddenly a thunderbolt broke from the sky
    The people filled the streets
    Whilst seeking rescue
    A noise erupted in the air
    of marching boots

    Now I am alone, deserted

    I do not feel anything good
    Years go by and sufferings remain
    Rocks dissolve, memories do not die

    They took my soul
    Tearing my dress
    They left laughing
    With my tears that were seeking help
    Since then until today, healing is all I seek
    Can I trust in humanity again?

    Now I am alone, deserted
    I do not feel anything good
    Years go by and sufferings remain
    Rocks dissolve, memories do not die

    Since then until today, healing is all I seek
    Can I trust in humanity again?

    Albanian folk music is an influence to Retrovizorja. The main guitar riff in “Guret Treten” is reminiscent of the ├žifteli (a stringed Albanian instrument). Retrovizorja’s sound transports the listener to Kosovo’s mountains. The music drifts through auburn forests frosted with the season’s first snowfall. “Guret Treten” is a striking example of their work. The simple beginning lets the song gradually build in complexity. The text and the music complement one another. “The noise in the air”, can be heard as white noise in the background of the track. Subtle screeches similar to those of train tracks reinforce what the song is talking about, a group of people fleeing from genocide, often by train. The percussion is subtle too, a very dramatic reminder that less really is more. Duni’s powerful vocals take on more jazz elements for the songs heart-aching finale. Like all of Retrovizorja’s work, “Guret Treten” is precisely crafted, nostalgic and painful, yet stunningly beautiful.

    In the time that Retrovizorja has existed, they have never performed live due to the different locations and career paths of the band members. They hope to organize their first live performance in late summer of 2013.

    All music featured in this post by The Elina Duni Jazz Quartet and Retrovizorja is available on iTunes. Please support these artists. You can also visit their websites at elinaduni.com and retrovizorja.com.

    Prishtina at dusk, photo taken in Dragodan neighborhood, overlooking the city.Prishtina at dusk, photo taken in Dragodan neighborhood, overlooking the city.

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    Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 Audio, Video

    6 Comments to Elina Duni & Retrovizorja

    1. Yes Elina you can trust in humanity again despite the pain :) Love & light to your healing as well as your work in Kosovo Albulena. Tuning in & am your lil Fijian cheerleader :)
      May your work & presence bring lots of healing in Kosovi.

      Love always
      B

    2. Bua Tawawili on February 6th, 2013
    3. Beautiful video, Albulena! Impressive work yet again.

    4. Katherine on February 6th, 2013
    5. Beautiful music and a nicely done interview.

    6. Ryan Sarnowski on February 7th, 2013
    7. I feel your heart beat through this elegant post Albulena. Thank you so much for blessing us with your gifted artistry in ways that ignite our one soul sacred humanity.

      Your artistic story sharing is palpable in multi-dimensions simultaneously. Honestly, I feel as if I have just been hugged by you! Thank you for sharing your love and shining your artistic light on other amazing beings!

      Hugs back from your Milwaukee Fam!!!

    8. Yvette Murrell on February 8th, 2013
    9. Great video Albulena! What an inspirational person Elina seems to be. And her music is gorgeous. Keep up the great work you are doing!

    10. Jeff Roy on February 11th, 2013
    11. Thank you everyone for the beautiful and heartfelt comments. Thank you so much for reading and supporting this work.

    12. Albulena Shabani - Kosovo on February 13th, 2013

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