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.

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 çifteli (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.

9 thoughts on “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


  2. 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!!!


  3. Great video Albulena! What an inspirational person Elina seems to be. And her music is gorgeous. Keep up the great work you are doing!


  4. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you, However I am going through
    problems with your RSS. I don’t understand why
    I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting identical RSS problems?
    Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!


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