After a good 2017 in electronic music, the trend continued in 2018 with more electro, broken beat, new beat, industrial and EBM, with new artists jumping on this train, so I’m curious where this will go in 2019.
On the local scene, in Romania, things are evolving in a slightly slower pace, but still in a good direction.
There are some clubs and promoters who are taking the risks and pushing things forward. In Cluj, the Gazette crew made extraordinary efforts for a small club and hosted in 2018 artists like Carlos Souffront, Justin Aulis Long, Mick Wills or Credit 00. In Bucharest, Kran is trying to make things happen in Guesthouse and they invited last year I-f, Versalife and on January 19th they will have DJ Stingray. Also they are supporting the local artists from Bucharest. Expirat Club, opened a new summer venue called Platforma Wolff and they had some interesting events with Orpheu The Wizard and Interstellar Funk among others. Besides this, Control Club is the place with more resources and this year they had The Hacker, Phuong Dan, Elena Colombi, David Vunk, Hugo Capablanca, Marcel Dettmann and others. Also a big step forward, is the Automata Festival which was organized by Control and I hope they will keep doing it and Rokolectiv Festival is doing a great work.
In this scene that is still developing it is normal to surface new talents, new projects or to shift from one thing to another and I’m surprised to say that the list this year has increased quite a lot from the previous years (2016, 2017).
First up is the duo composed by Andrei Rusu and Florentin Tudor, Khidja. Their DJing schedule gets busier from one year to another. In 2018 they traveled to gigs in Berlin, Barcelona, New York, Paris or Tokyo, made their debut at Dekmantel Festival and next year they will play at Dekmantel Selectors in Croatia. From my knowledge they are the only Romanians who played at Dekmantel.
With this busy schedule, they still managed to have one release on Malka Tuti and to provide a track on DJ soFa’s compilation on Kalahari Oyster Cult, an audio atlas that transverses not only styles, but also cultures and continents.
Also on Malka Tuti they released a experimental album with Romanian violinist Mihai Balabaș, while their ‘Impossible Holiday’ release on Hivern Disc got remixed by Lena Willikens, Aufgang B and label owner John Talabot.
Borusiade aka Miruna Boruzescu is fast becoming one of the most interesting female artists in the electronic music scene. Last year she played CTM Festival in Berlin, Nuits Sonores in Lyon, Lente Kabinet in Amsterdam, Mira Festival in Barcelona and almost everywhere across Europe.
Miruna had last year her debut album on Cómeme. ‘A Body’ is a deeply poetic work with synthetic atmospheres, spatial rhythmical arrangements, strangely seductive melodies and Miruna’s hunting voice.
Besides playing regularly in Berghain | Panorama Bar | Säule, she had an EP of Ostgut Ton sublabel Unterton, Berghain’s record label. She had a track on Lena Willikens’ compilation for Dekmantel Selectors and a very nice remix for Dollkraut on Dischi Autunno. In February she will make her debut on Pinkman Records with a track on a mini compilation.
From some points of view 2018 was a good year for Andrew Red Hand, but he is still struggling to find his path in the agitated waters of the electronic music business. Dubbed by Igloo Magazine as the “Romanian Detroit electro/techno pioneer” and by the late Aaron Carl as “the Romanian Underground Resistance himself”, Andrew is getting more play time in Berlin than anywhere else. Last year, he played twice in Tresor, once in Stockholm and just one gig in Romania, at Gazette.
This one in particularly was well received, so I hope 2019 will be the year when his DJ schedule gets more loaded.
Although he is one of the grand figures of the techno scene, Cosmin TRG has reinvented himself twice last year. Usually when you are at this level you what to bring something new to the game, but Cosmin launched in 2018 two new projects.
The first one called Com Sim, aims to present his more experimental and minimal interpretation of the techno music, was released by the Japanese label Sound Of Vast.
The second project, presented under his real name, Cosmin Nicolae, is a more personal approach to the experimental side of the electronic music. The album ‘Semnal’ on Opal Tapes and the live act that Cosmin is performing, pursues an experimental route, increasing his dexterity and implication into the making and performing of the music.
Next I will talk about a collective made up from 3 guys from Ploieşti, a city 60 kilometers North from Bucharest. Andu Simion, Bogdan Ardeleanu and Dan Gheorghe are from the same neighborhood and know each other from their childhood.
Around 2013 they started to call themselves Lisière Collectif and started playing around Bucharest and other cities in Romania. In the same time, they would also produce music and make their debut in 2014 on Mike Grant’s label Moods & Grooves with ‘Les Sons De La Lisière’. In the next three years they already had a handful of releases on vinyl and in 2017 they established their own label LSR: Lisière Collectif Series. As a catchy story they name their tracks after the letters of the alphabet.
They were from the beginning on my radar because their music was a bit different from the Romanian mainstream, but still it was too flat and dull for me. They were somewhere between deep/dub techno and so called Romanian “techno”. But, in 2018 something changed in their approach, or maybe it’s streaming alongside the entire underground scene, and they morphed their music into a more electro sound. Their second release on LSR is the one I really like and it includes a Morpohology remix.
Lately, Bogdan from Lisière Collectif united forces with FILIPP under the Kosmogonik project, which they present as a cosmic exploration of sound. They just had the first live show at the Kran NYE in Bucharest and they released two tracks on their youtube channel.
In the last 5 years, FILIPP has been DJing and organizing the Halvingrad techno parties in Bucharest, but also producing music. I’m very curious to see what Kosmogonik will produce in the future.
Șerb aka Șerban Ilicevici is getting more and more involved in the Romanian electronic music scene. Around 2010 he was playing the guitar in the punk scene, then in 2014 he joined Listen2Me, a label from Bucharest oriented towards the drone/ambient side of techno, and had his first release the year after. In 2017 he had a release on Cosmin TRG‘s label Fizic and last year he had the debut album on Night Defined.
In his album, Șerb experiments with sounds, forging a soundscape that is spacey, but intense and sometimes gritty. I included his album in my list of 20 albums from 2018.
Șerb has a project with Minus, a veteran from the Romanian underground scene and member of Listen2Me crew, where they perform live together.
Romansoff added a new label under his belt with the release on Solar Phenomena. It was his only output for the year and his label Raw Tools remained dry, but I must admit is the best music he ever released.
Otherwise he was busy playing at the new summer venue Platforma Wolff, where he was a resident, and at various venues in Bucharest.
Ovidiu had his first release last year on AM, a label by Afrobot related to his Afrobotic Musicology blog. On his release, Ovidiu presents some pounding slow-beat bangers, intoxicating experimental electronics and slow grooves, inspired by themes like Steampunk and Romanian folklore.
Vlad Caia & Cristi Cons formed SIT aka Sideways Invisibility Theory in 2009 and since then has been smoothly rising into one of Romania’s main acts. They are performing live and DJ sets all over Europe and have been touring in the US.
Last year they released their second album and marked the debut on Sushitech Records. ‘Invisibility’ features trippy, dubby workouts designed to operate somewhere in between deep techno and stripped-back, minimalist Romanian house.
In the late ’70s and early ’80s in communist Romania, Rodion Ladislau Roșca and his band Rodion G.A. created a hybrid of electronic music, psychedelics and progressive rock that, decades later, has revealed itself to be remarkably ahead of its time. Electrecord, the only record label in communist Romania, released two of Rodion G.A’s more rock orientated tracks on the 1981 compilation, but his experimental electronic work remained unreleased.
Clandestine and underappreciated during the communist dictatorship years and devastated by his mother’s death at the end of the ’80, Rodion essentially withdrew completely from the public eye and the music scene.
His pioneering experiments in electronic music were lost and found again after more than 20 years. In 2013 Rodion released an album on Strut, followed by a second album on BBE: Barely Breaking Even, both from UK. In 2018 Rodion released his third album, Rozalia, dedicated to his mother. This album has a more slightly psychedelic rock edge than the more electronic sounding works that have previously been resurfaced.
Rodion is in his 60s and his health is not the best, he is often hospitalized, but he is still making music and performing live. Now he is focusing on releasing new material, so if we are lucky we should see new albums coming out this year. After decades of obscurity, Rodion’s music is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
The P-Balans crew was terribly silent last year. Since they started the label mid 2016, they had a couple of releases each year, most of them good, but 2018 was not their year. A reasonable cause for this could be the fact that The Holy Fix aka Camil Dumitrescu, the main man behind the label, moved to Berlin. Gig-wise, he had some live performances in Berlin, Hamburg and in Bucharest for the Kran NYE party. After a dry year maybe they will get some nice releases this year.
Next I will list other Romanian DJs that I had the pleasure to listen lately and I liked. I hope to see them get more appreciation in the future and more gigs.
Aleksa Alaska soundcloud / facebook / RA
Aleksa started DJing 2-3 years ago, but she is already having a lot of performances, mostly outside of Romania, and a monthly show on Noods Radio (Bristol).
adub soundcloud / facebook
Adrian is the last DJ in our city that plays music that we like, so I have to add him here. Thanks to him we can still dance.
Bogdan (Orbita Lacustră) soundcloud / facebook
Orbita Lacustră is a collective of DJs, curators of rarities and B-sides. Bogdan is one of them. We listen to him at the Automata Festival last year and he was one of the best local acts.
dannilov soundcloud / facebook / RA
dannilov is the spearhead of the Gazette Collective, he is a vinyl fanatic who uses it exclusively in his DJ sets.
No soundcloud, no facebook page, just playing records. Adrian was involved in the Romanian electronic music scene since the late 90s. He is not a DJ in the real sense of the term. He is collecting vinyl, playing at home and very rarely at parties for friends. He is living in the UK and not playing that much anymore, but a real treat if you can catch him live.
Lektronikumuz soundcould / facebook / RA
Remus is a veteran, spinning records for 20 years already and in Romania this is a rarity. Totally devoted to music, Remus might have the most valuable vinyl collection in Romania.
Marius Georgescu soundcloud / facebook / RA
Marius is an authentic music freak and a digger. Starting with 2018 he has a radio show on LYL Radio (Lyon) and unfortunately has more exposure abroad than in Romania.
Scoro soundcloud / facebook
Bogdan Scoromide is also a real freak. He is into experimental and weird stuff, but he is also playing club oriented music.
Te Doare soundcloud / facebook
I know next to nothing about this guy. He is a member of the Gazette Collective in Cluj. I never heard him playing, but this warm-up set convinced me that he has to be in this list.
Yaghee soundcloud / facebook / RA
I know Andras since 2010. He is passionate about the music, he plays vinyl and has a good taste in music. I hope to see him playing more gigs in the future.
I will close this article with two more mentions.
Intersections is an online music platform, focusing on creating and promoting a forward thinking sound joining techno, house, industrial, EBM, dark electronics and “machine music” in general.
NO ONE EVER DANCES is a podcast & event series, aiming to showcase a spectrum of leftfield DJ sets & live acts, ranging from pulsing techno to experimental, from mutant disco to spoken-word.