Tomaž Pengov
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(1949 - † 10. February 2014)

Tomaž was born in 1949 in Ljubljana. He studied comparative literature at the Faculty of Arts. Later he worked as a freelance artist. He played on the 12-stringed acoustic guitar and lute, sang and wrote songs. His first appearances dating back to the year 1968 when he played the songs of Bob Dylan and Donovan, and then translated their songs into English. The first documented recording of Pengov are the vocals he’d done in the song ‘Oda Ireni ‘ for author Dušan Velkavrh. His first album Odpotovanja was recorded in 1973, partly in the bathroom of his apartment on the road. It would be released in the small ŠKUC  label and was one of the first Slovenian releases in the former Yugoslavian republic (which was primary dominated by Croatian and Serbian artists). In the second half of the seventies Pengov participated mostly in the creation of film music. For movie Krč (Cramp) in 1979 he wrote the song ‘Tihe so njive’ (Silent arable land) , which was released as a single.

A year later he records with classical guitarist Jerko Novak a single ‘Črna pega čez oči’ (A black spot over the eye) where he sets poems by Ježek Vandrovček and Carinthian poet Andrej Kokot to music. At the time Pengov worked in a scene called the "šumijevce" where also Jerkom Novak, Lado Jakša (who would be Pengov’s musical companion for years) and Bogdano Herman (with the band Salamander) belonged to. It would take until 1988 however before a complete new album would be released by Pengov. ‘Pripovedi’ (1988) shows a style change from his intimate debut with a richly decorated production done by Lado Jakša. In 1992, the duo works again together for an album called ‘Rimska cesta’ (the Milky Way), this time with guitarist Bojan Drobež. The album features reworks of old material as well a new songs. A year later Pengov would open a show by American singer/songwriter Townes van Zandt at the K4 club in Ljubljana. The singer is taken away with Pengov’s performance. 1996 sees the last recordings Pengov would make with Jakša. After that Pengov only appears in public life for doing intimate concerts. In 2008 Steve Wyn translated one of his songs into 'She came'. for his 'Crossing the bridge' album.

In 2011 he appears for the last time with members of Salamander, doing old songs and songs from the band. In 2013 young singer Polona Kasal releases an album where she gives Pengov’s songs an electronic rework. In February 2014 Pengov suddenly dies after a severe sick bed in his home in Golnik. On 24 April 2014 a tribute show ‘Hommage Pengov’ was held at the Kino Šiška, at which many famous musicians paid tribute to the memory of the deceased poet.

On the web:

There is a fanpage about Tomaz: http://tomaz-pengov.webs.com/

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What do we think:

DB: I learned about Pengov through a contact I had at the University of Ljubljana. When I asked for an artist that was a local household name but unknown elsewhere. Tomaz Pengov certainly fitted that profile. The guy who sold me his debut album was completely puzzled how I got to the name of this title. Next to that he ushered a warning that the sound quality is not really good since the album was recorded in a toilet. Which adds to it's mysterious status. Because 'Odpotovanja' is certainly worth checking out. Contrary to most Yugo-pop and rock of the time it is an almost psychedelic and ambient approach to folkmusic. His guitar work and bronze voice weave a web of mystery. Pengov himself always stated that the album was actually not meant for a broad release and made solely to hand out to family and friends. It’s status grew however over the years into a Slovenian cult album. Fellow poet Milan Dekleva described Pengov as follows: “Pengov is a traveler who is not looking for asphalt motorway to the capital cities, but dust cart tracks to the forgotten and abandoned places". I couldn't have said it better myself.

Recommended albums:

♪♪♪♪ - Odpotovanja - 1973

- Pripovedi - 1988

- Rimska cesta - 1992

- Biti tu - 1996

- Koncert - 2006

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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