On their seventh album entitled Človek ni zver
(A Man is Not a Beast
) Katalena band enters a monstrous theater of death; a battlefield where rifles, bombs and tanks crush bodies and souls, merely three years after building castles in a sandpit (I am of course referring to Enci benci Katalenci
, an album of children songs, released in 2015).
The antipode could not be more apparent, but great bands are capable of great transformations. The sons and daughters of Katalena once again proved that they are such a band.
Stories of war, separation, collective or personal tragedies, conflicts, complex situations and characters are not only dealt with admirable courage and consideration, but also with a great measure of sensual existentialism and moral sensitivity without blame or ideological contamination. There is not “us vs. them” in Katalena’s war-induced ponderings. Their engaging narrative is humanistic at its core, as well as intimately visceral.
The band has never sounded so convincing, mature, uncompromising, subtle and heartbreaking at the same time. … I know it’s only March, but my favorite album of the year is already out.
Katarina Juvačič, Odzven, 2018
Despite the fact that not all the revived songs sounded equally convincing, Katalena band managed to efficiently animate themselves and the public during the encores in the full concert hall at Siti Teater in Ljubljana. They proved once again that they are a band that imaginatively and consistently follows their own philosophy of performing which, however, gets upgraded with every new concept and project. If Katalena were just another regular ethno band that searches through the folk music tradition in a pragmatic way, without any serious thought, the fifteen years of their energetic, fruitful and successful presence would not exist, let alone be something worth celebrating.
Katarina Juvančič on 15th Anniversary concert, Siti Teater, May 2016
Katarina Juvančič for Odzven, SIGIC
Katalena band had so much fun! Without holding back. That’s their way. An amazing experience. The audience enjoyed themselves as well. Vesna once again put a spell on the people with her confident and deeply moving vocal interpretation, the experienced sextet put in such excellence into their performance, (…). The sextet was clearly on fire and managed to influence the somewhat reserved audience. The people politely applauded till the last part of the concert, but then they finally awoke as some of the adrenalin rush from the stage rubbed off onto them. (…) Katalena maintains its status of a sexy band and their concerts guarantee excellence in performing.
Aleš Podbrežnik for Rockline, May 2016
Aleš Podbrežnik on 15th anniversary concert at Siti Teater
Katalena is 14 already. A teen, who has played everywhere from New York to Tel Aviv, experienced all the major festivals, venues and club stages in Slovenia, danced Špic-Cvak! with Edward Clug and Valentina Turcu in a sold-out Gallusova hall (the most prominent cultural hall in Slovenia), sang with Resian grandmothers, with Neca Falk and Jani Kovačič, ganged up with Svetlana Makarovič, and brought music out of Dane Zajc’s and Gregor Strniša’s work. Innovatively and sometimes with a dash of subversion, Katalena has played within the field of the traditional very maturely, desacralizing and deconstructing the national musical treasure and its ideological concepts that have been associated with it for almost 200 years. Katalena has been accomplishing this very successfully from the very start.
In spite of many other artistic projects of all the six members, Katalena is still the "band" as well as the "brand" that follows
the starting premise or statement with which its artistic leader, Boštjan Narat starts their concerts: "We are Katalena, we are from Ljubljana, and we play traditional Slovene music." Urban musicians and traditional material. From here on, the road is wide open to infinite combinations of various interpretations. From here on, katalenization starts.
Katarina Juvančič, Odzven, journalist and ethnomusicologist, 2015
Katarina Juvančič, journalist and ethnomusicologist, May 2015
The members of the band Katalena are truly experienced, with such a long road behind them that they have developed a very distinguished sense of composition. Their work is a brewing (a unique recipe from the Katalena cook book, of course) of picturesque traditional melodies that have been experimentally flipped into jazz variations, turned to cabaret, blues, swing, gospel, and rock. With a fresh approach and in a witty way, they break down the barriers between genres as well
as generations. The album is undoubtedly appealing even for a very demanding listener - the adults will enjoy it as much as the kids.
Aleš Podbrežnik, Rockline, 2015
Aleš Podbrežnik, Rockline, 2015
“There is no denying that Katalena is incredibly prolific. It is driven by the creative genius of six powerful and musically defined entities. Six musical worlds that have been creating a unique musical world for twelve consecutive years. The recognizable world of Katalena.
Their work is an inventive reconstruction of folk standards and a multi-genre construction that forms a unique image which attracts with insightful arrangements.
The band’s exceptional world is so powerful and shines so persuasively that it overwhelms you and takes you into a parallel universe where fantasy and the irrational reign”.
Aleš Podbrežnik, Rockline, January 2013
Aleš Podbrežnik (Rockline), October 2013
“The six members are perfectly synchronized and enticing at all times. The silent trinity with Robert Rebolj (drums), Polona Janežič (keyboard) in Tibor Mihelič Syed (bass guitar) and the dynamic trio with Narat, Zornik, Gombač make you question yourself after four hours what else you can expect from musicians who epitomize the good in Slovenian music.
Superb, epic, definitely one of the Slovenian concerts of the year!”
Jaša Lorenčič (Večer), October 2013
"Katalena is one of those very rare bands, who are able to arrange with such an original genious and gain such freedom in the prism of their autonomous and spontaneous artism. We are talking about a uniqueness, apricciated abroad as well, for they have impressed with their concerts worldwide.
Katalena is simply maturing and confirming with every concert, that they are one of the main stage atractions, for they are offering a fascinating realisation of a unique musical experience, directed like a full-fledged theatre with a deep message from the musical content."
Aleš Podbrežnik, Rockline, January 2013
“Numerous Slovenian folk songs have been brought back to life through their arrangements and, as it appears, need not fear for their existence.
One can feel not only some sort of musical chemistry between the members of the band but also genuine playfulness which is possible only when people know each other really well.
Ksenja Tratnik (MMC RTV Slo), October 2013
"The band Katalena is one of the most excellent Slovenian musical artists, even though their musical expression could not be put in any conventional musical frame. Their last album, which they promote as a tribute to the Resian musical legacy, is very deep and wide ranging. It is very clear in their sound that this band has been playing a lot and that their creative bonds have become a field of development and creative experiments. The ideas on the album Cvik cvak! are a product of all the group members and are masterly produced by Aldo Ivančič. The voice of Vesna Zornik is incorporated into the music as an addition to the sound, it is hypnotic, and its colorfully Resian dialect doesn't only tell us lyrical stories and speaks to us, but is seducing us to the heights."
Miroslav Akrapovič for Stop magazine, June 2008
The band Katalena is at this moment one of the best, or maybe even the best musical artist in Slovenia. After a month of listening to their fourth album as well as their former three, it is very clear to me that those are the musicians that bring the needed depth of musical expression into this musically and culturally more and more challenged world. Searching through the forgotten archives of traditional folk songs, incorporated into a very up to date production of Aldo Ivančič (Borghesia, Bast), ancient and hypermodern, all this with musicians and a singer that don't care about any barriers of genre or marketing, the musicians and a singer that are letting their unpeaceful spirit dive into the music, passion, euphoria, sadness or yearning. ...In all aspects, Cvik cvak! is a top quality artwork.
Marko Milosavljevič for Vikend magazine, june 2008