The Slovenia Times

A Collection of Mix Tapes


At times: sentimental, oddly industrial, rambling and inefficient, DIY, totally self-contained, Ljubljana has all the watermarks of a fantastic mix tape. And, it's a city filled with music: from the sonic spillage pouring out of Križanke to the "čefur" sports cars in Rakova Jelša to the audio smorgasbord you'll find at Metelkova any given weekend.

Its architecture colludes in this symphonic bearing. Stara Ljubljana sings jazz standards. Bežigrad grunts Oy! through distortion. Vic rehearses scales. The low, old relic buildings give every neighborhood that proper sky-to-structure ratio where sounds can disappear. Ljubljana more than anywhere I've lived culls its musicality from its silences, like some high-flown John Cage experiment.

This collection of mix tapes, Ljubljana possesses a beautiful economy of scale. In these days of iTune playlists that quickly get out of control through their excesses, Ljubljana keeps it limited to the bare necessities. This is partly because it's a small town, and partly because the people living there know the rest of Slovenia has to come to them. Whatever it offers will be locally revered.

Because it's populated with Slovenians, Ljubljana lacks a certain amount of confidence. A place this picturesque and sociable should not be standing as consistently in its own shadow as it does. I always imagine Ljubljana being hit by some social earthquake-like the one in the 1500s that defined its current physical look. In my mental stereo, I turn up the bass and wait for the rumbles.


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