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Thread: Your favourites from ROMANIA

  1. #1

    Your favourites from ROMANIA

    I've explored the music (rock/rprog rock) of this country quite extensively, though by no means exhaustively, and my personal favourites are:

    Phoenix (prog folk) Mugur De Fluier, Cei Ce Ne-au Dat Nume and Cantafabule being their best albums IMO. Transsylvania and Symmphoenix - Timisoara are also good, after that they go more into more commercial-sounding folk rock.

    Celelalte Cuvinte: This is a band which changed direction many times, with influences from Rush (Calin Pop's voice even sounds a bit like Geddy Lee's) as well as the local scene. Their first two albums are heavy prog with folk influences, Se lasa Rau is (thrash) metal, Armaghedon (doom metal) and after that they veer into rock/alternative rock. Despite these changes, the line-up has remainly fairly consistent and they have quite a strong fanbase. My favourites are: the first two albums, Ispita (underrated album IMO) and then Armaghedon.

    Stepan Project: Trilogy of albums with spiritual and folk themes, Ilie Stepan (collaborates with musicians from other genres such as jazz, classical and folk) - vast project, many years in the making.

    Sfinx: prog with strong symphonic and folk dimension. Of note are Lume Alba and Zalmoxe, particularly the latter.

    Progresiv TM: heavy prog, both studio albums are excellent.

    Accent: I particularly like Coincidente Premeditate. Paul Prisada's Porto Franco is also good.

    Pro Musica: They released an album in 1988, Rockul Baroc, which is worth a listen, but actually my favourite is the live DVD Pro Musica 41: Live in Timisoara. Not sure that it's prog, though, more folk rock/rock.

    Talitha Qumi: A one-off project titled Despre Cuvinte. Prog folk, quite experimental with strange incantations, some symphonic and psychedelic influences. A gem.

    Kogaion: Keyboard-driven atmospheric symphonic prog, a one-off containing pieces of a stage show called "The Castle" Physical copies exist but they are very, very rare.

    Experimental Quintet: eclectic but strong jazz vibes I would say, with symphonic and some folk influences. Good stuff.

    Yesterdays: Their most recent album, Senki Madara is my favourite. Vocals in Hungarian (as the band members are from a Hungarian minority in Romania) and English.

    What are your favourites from this country?

  2. #2
    Celelalte Cuvinte - Fantana Suspinelor


  3. #3
    Phoenix - C‚nticlu a cucuveaualiei


  4. #4
    Talitha Qumi - Despre Cuvinte


  5. #5
    I would like to recommend the following.

    Phoenix. All three LPs from the original era but Cantofabule especially. Their esoteric merger of progressive hard rock with various folk tones from the entire Tatra region makes for a stew which still stands solely on its own. Nothing ever really sounded quite like it. Their backstory is highly interesting as well, with Nicolae Covaci's standing out. Three members smuggled themselves out of Romania and to the West during one of the 70s communist party's purges by hiding in a set of large amplifier-cabinets on loan from Germany, after reliable information that they'd been targeted by the infamous Securitate (secret police) for having musicians of Jewish and Romani heritage in their ranks - but likely because they were perceived as harboring "subversive" attitudes in lyrics and appeal.

    Sfinx. First two albums are both very listenable. While most folks seem to prefer Zalmoxe for its faint resemblance to "symphonic" rock credentials, I think their debut (Lume Alba) is even better. Halfway between proto-progressive, folk and pop, there are some magnificent tunes on it.

    Progresiv TM. First album (Dreptul de a Visa is alright and somewhat in between Jethro Tull and Deep Purple. The much rarer Puterea Muzicii contains sophisticated, epic hard rock with odd nods to other Eastern European such artists of the day (notably Progres2 from Czechoslowakia and East from Hungary), but the music is still highly personal and their own.

    Semnal M. Pretty straight-forward folk-pop/rock, yet rewarding for historical reasons and the zeitgeist of art under reasonably tough conditions. Cintece Transilvane (1979) was their second and finest release.

    FFN (Formatia Fara Nume). Zece Pasi, their debut from the mid-70s, is basically a sort of farty-fancy-jazzy take on vintage song-form proto-progressive. They remind me a bit of a couple of other under-heralded Eastern European groups, namely Mini and Bergendy from Hungary, both in sound and the general unevenness of their material. But what's listenable is sometimes solid. Their second album, Zi Cu Zi, is even more uneven but has a couple of fairly good tracks as well.

    I'm not too big on Celelalte Cuvinte, Metropol and the likes.

    Perhaps we should take on progressive from Yugoslavia instead? Lots to find there. I'm sure you know a thing or two.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  6. #6
    I would like to recommend my recommendations.

    I know absolutely shit of Romanian rock music - but I am willing to listen. And be converted.

  7. #7
    Parrots ripped my flesh Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Perhaps we should take on progressive from Yugoslavia instead? Lots to find there. I'm sure you know a thing or two.

  8. #8
    Member lazland's Avatar
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    I was quite keen on Byron.
    I review and blog at www.lazland.org

  9. #9
    Member Czyszy's Avatar
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    Byron is pretty good. I never liked Phoenix all that much.
    One Dracula, two Dracula, three Dracula...

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Phoenix. All three LPs from the original era but Cantofabule especially. Their esoteric merger of progressive hard rock with various folk tones from the entire Tatra region makes for a stew which still stands solely on its own. Nothing ever really sounded quite like it. Their backstory is highly interesting as well, with Nicolae Covaci's standing out. Three members smuggled themselves out of Romania and to the West during one of the 70s communist party's purges by hiding in a set of large amplifier-cabinets on loan from Germany, after reliable information that they'd been targeted by the infamous Securitate (secret police) for having musicians of Jewish and Romani heritage in their ranks - but likely because they were perceived as harboring "subversive" attitudes in lyrics and appeal.
    They started out as a beat band with Beatles covers, and from what I know the autorities objected to this Western style of music, and so they turned to folklore as an inspiration for their music. I remember seeing a short videoclip of them in a horse-drawn cart, in a river, going upstream against the current. Very symbolic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Progresiv TM. First album (Dreptul de a Visa is alright and somewhat in between Jethro Tull and Deep Purple. The much rarer Puterea Muzicii contains sophisticated, epic hard rock with odd nods to other Eastern European such artists of the day (notably Progres2 from Czechoslowakia and East from Hungary), but the music is still highly personal and their own.
    I prefer Puterea Muzicii too, but both are very good. Dreptul de-a Visa was also released on CD (though I'm not sure that the CD version is official), Puterea Muzicii only on vinyl and harder to find a good copy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    FFN (Formatia Fara Nume). Zece Pasi, their debut from the mid-70s
    Yes, this is good.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Perhaps we should take on progressive from Yugoslavia instead[/U]? Lots to find there. I'm sure you know a thing or two.
    Yes, lots to cover there, but that's for a different day.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Czyszy View Post
    Byron is pretty good. I never liked Phoenix all that much.
    I know byron and do like them - "30 de secunde de faimă" (30 Seconds of Fame) is probably my favourite.

  12. #12
    Member Zalmoxe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnotherFineMess View Post
    I've explored the music (rock/rprog rock) of this country quite extensively, though by no means exhaustively, and my personal favourites are:

    Phoenix (prog folk) Mugur De Fluier, Cei Ce Ne-au Dat Nume and Cantafabule being their best albums IMO. Transsylvania and Symmphoenix - Timisoara are also good, after that they go more into more commercial-sounding folk rock.

    Celelalte Cuvinte: This is a band which changed direction many times, with influences from Rush (Calin Pop's voice even sounds a bit like Geddy Lee's) as well as the local scene. Their first two albums are heavy prog with folk influences, Se lasa Rau is (thrash) metal, Armaghedon (doom metal) and after that they veer into rock/alternative rock. Despite these changes, the line-up has remainly fairly consistent and they have quite a strong fanbase. My favourites are: the first two albums, Ispita (underrated album IMO) and then Armaghedon.

    Stepan Project: Trilogy of albums with spiritual and folk themes, Ilie Stepan (collaborates with musicians from other genres such as jazz, classical and folk) - vast project, many years in the making.

    Sfinx: prog with strong symphonic and folk dimension. Of note are Lume Alba and Zalmoxe, particularly the latter.

    Progresiv TM: heavy prog, both studio albums are excellent.

    Accent: I particularly like Coincidente Premeditate. Paul Prisada's Porto Franco is also good.

    Pro Musica: They released an album in 1988, Rockul Baroc, which is worth a listen, but actually my favourite is the live DVD Pro Musica 41: Live in Timisoara. Not sure that it's prog, though, more folk rock/rock.

    Talitha Qumi: A one-off project titled Despre Cuvinte. Prog folk, quite experimental with strange incantations, some symphonic and psychedelic influences. A gem.

    Kogaion: Keyboard-driven atmospheric symphonic prog, a one-off containing pieces of a stage show called "The Castle" Physical copies exist but they are very, very rare.

    Experimental Quintet: eclectic but strong jazz vibes I would say, with symphonic and some folk influences. Good stuff.

    Yesterdays: Their most recent album, Senki Madara is my favourite. Vocals in Hungarian (as the band members are from a Hungarian minority in Romania) and English.

    What are your favourites from this country?
    Your list is fairly comprehensive. There isn't much more in the way of Progressive Rock that you did not mention. I have seen a few other bands live back in the day, but sadly they never got to record any of their stuff, at least not in their prime anyway. Experimental Quintet is a proper example of that. There are a few songs on YT showing a very minimalist cover (black and white) as if to imply that there was an album released. That is not true. They released their first album on CD in 2012. I tracked down the keyboard player that now lives (or used to) in Montreal and I facilitated the distribution of their first album with a few vendors (last time I checked Greg Walker and cdbaby.com still had a few copies). The album contains some originals from the 70s, tracks that were re-recorded because the master-tapes were lost, plus some new material that is not necessary as good as the old stuff. If I am not mistaken, the drummer had past away and the guitarist lives now in Australia or New Zealand. There was some disagreements between the members and the second album released in 2014 was not sanctioned by all the members.

    Another band that was quite good in the 70s is Basorelief. They too released an album in 2014 (Ploaie in Macondo / Rain in Macondo - you can stream it in its entirety on YT), album that has some re-recorded tracks because, again, there was nothing saved on master tape from the hayday.

    Here are three (decent) tracks recorded in a concert in 1977 at Club A by Basorelief:



    [As a side note, Club A (or the club of the Architecture & Design University in Bucharest) was the prime venue for all progressive rock and jazz bands that were active during the Communist era. Many of the very interesting bands of the times, Sfinx and Phoenix included, had concerts at that venue]

    Another audio clip recorded live:



    They evolved into a jazz big band in the late 70s and early 80s (there is a short clip on YT showcasing them play as a big band). From what I know, the guitarist Ervin Surin has eloped to Germany (following in the steps of the majority of Phoenix musicians and Dan Andrei Aldea from Sfinx) and that kind of lead to the end of the band.

    Electrecord (the state-owned recording label, the only one that was allowed to release any music in Romania) had two series of LPs entitled "Formatii de muzica pop" (Pop music bands) and "Formatii de muzica rock" (Rock music bands). Some bands were given one side (or a half) of an LP to record their music. Here is Basorelief's "Drum prin Campie" (Road through the fields) which was released on Formatii de muzica Pop III:

    Last edited by Zalmoxe; 08-03-2022 at 02:25 PM.

  13. #13
    Member Zalmoxe's Avatar
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    Another band I saw live and I liked in the mid 80s was Abra. Never got to record anything in the 80s, but here is a clip that was potentially filmed at that time:



    This song sounds a little bit like what you would hear during the Italian festival from San Remo, but they did have a lot of other songs that were very good, sadly lost now. They too got together to record some stuff in 2005, but the magic was gone. I know that Christian Podratzky, a very talented bassist, was active in Germany in many reputable jazz outfits.

    There was another great band called Impact. I've seen them live several times and they ripped us to shreds. They never left any records and I searched YT but could not find anything by them. Another obscurity lost in the deep folds of history.

  14. #14
    Member Zalmoxe's Avatar
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    One gem that somehow survived the passing of the time is Survolaj. They have three albums recorded, but I only know the first one and it is a peach. They did the recording in 1992, but this is material I've seen live in the early 80s. It is safe to say that they could only record their material once the Communist regime collapsed in 1989. Three very long tracks of psychedelic bliss:



    Greg Walker still lists this album in stock.

  15. #15
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    Finally, if you are willing to expand your searching area, there is another band called Nu & Apa Neagra (Nu & The Black Water). They have material that was released in recent years, so should be relatively easy to track down. Some sort of avant-garde folk, so your mileage may vary. Head off to YT for samples. There's just too many to clutter the space here

  16. #16
    ^ That Survolaj is quite good. Heavy, acid-laced guitar-rock conjuring images of further early-90s neo-psychedelic groups like Outskirts of Infinity, Sun Dial, Bevis Frond and Fantasyy Factoryy but probably unaware of these and definitely with a bent unlike them in general mood as well as sound. I had the opportunity to purchase it a number of years ago at a recordfair but abstained as the quality of the vinyl itself didn't quite justify the cost. Still I tend to regret not getting.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  17. #17
    Phoenix and Sfinx are all I really know. Alas, the Ceaucescu regime held a pretty tight rein on the music scene, so progressive music didn’t really have much of a chance to blossom. It’s a wonder we got as much as we did. Those first three Phoenix albums are a miracle; taking the traditional Transsylvanian sounds and mating them to aggressive psychedelic rock, throwing in some proto-progressive ideas for good measure (especially on Cantofabule, the creative use of Moog on that one lifts it up to the next level). It’s really a pity we didn’t get more. I really love listening to the Romanian language, it’s a lovely language for singing.
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  18. #18
    I did a show on Romanian prog earlier this year: https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/112/55200.html

    Basically the original post hit on all the ones I'd recommend most.

    A nice little "proggy" folk album that I have not seen mentioned is Nicu Alifantis' "După Melci". Drummer of Phoenix and keyboardist of Sfinx appear.
    Infinite Ceiling on www.ckcufm.com every Thursday night at 8:30 with me or Mark Keill, archived shows: https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/112/...tml?filter=all
    Electronic Meditation on www.ckcufm.com archived shows: https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/462/...tml?filter=all

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Zalmoxe View Post
    Your list is fairly comprehensive. There isn't much more in the way of Progressive Rock that you did not mention. I have seen a few other bands live back in the day, but sadly they never got to record any of their stuff, at least not in their prime anyway. Experimental Quintet is a proper example of that. There are a few songs on YT showing a very minimalist cover (black and white) as if to imply that there was an album released. That is not true. They released their first album on CD in 2012. I tracked down the keyboard player that now lives (or used to) in Montreal and I facilitated the distribution of their first album with a few vendors (last time I checked Greg Walker and cdbaby.com still had a few copies). The album contains some originals from the 70s, tracks that were re-recorded because the master-tapes were lost, plus some new material that is not necessary as good as the old stuff. If I am not mistaken, the drummer had past away and the guitarist lives now in Australia or New Zealand. There was some disagreements between the members and the second album released in 2014 was not sanctioned by all the members.

    Another band that was quite good in the 70s is Basorelief. They too released an album in 2014 (Ploaie in Macondo / Rain in Macondo - you can stream it in its entirety on YT), album that has some re-recorded tracks because, again, there was nothing saved on master tape from the hayday.

    Here are three (decent) tracks recorded in a concert in 1977 at Club A by Basorelief:



    [As a side note, Club A (or the club of the Architecture & Design University in Bucharest) was the prime venue for all progressive rock and jazz bands that were active during the Communist era. Many of the very interesting bands of the times, Sfinx and Phoenix included, had concerts at that venue]

    Another audio clip recorded live:



    They evolved into a jazz big band in the late 70s and early 80s (there is a short clip on YT showcasing them play as a big band). From what I know, the guitarist Ervin Surin has eloped to Germany (following in the steps of the majority of Phoenix musicians and Dan Andrei Aldea from Sfinx) and that kind of lead to the end of the band.

    Electrecord (the state-owned recording label, the only one that was allowed to release any music in Romania) had two series of LPs entitled "Formatii de muzica pop" (Pop music bands) and "Formatii de muzica rock" (Rock music bands). Some bands were given one side (or a half) of an LP to record their music. Here is Basorelief's "Drum prin Campie" (Road through the fields) which was released on Formatii de muzica Pop III:

    Thanks for posting - that helps to fill in a few gaps.

    Basorelief - that's definitely my kind of thing and I'll give Ploaie in Macondo a listen.

    Abra - I know this band, but all I've ever heard was after 2005. I never realised that they were active in the 80s - interesting.

    Survolaj - yes, this is good.

    Nu & Apa Neagra - thanks for reminding me. I've been meaning to get hold of their albums for some time. I think I can source 2 CDs locally - there are a couple of record stores here in Greece that stock that kind of thing.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    Phoenix and Sfinx are all I really know. Alas, the Ceaucescu regime held a pretty tight rein on the music scene, so progressive music didnít really have much of a chance to blossom. Itís a wonder we got as much as we did. Those first three Phoenix albums are a miracle; taking the traditional Transsylvanian sounds and mating them to aggressive psychedelic rock, throwing in some proto-progressive ideas for good measure (especially on Cantofabule, the creative use of Moog on that one lifts it up to the next level). Itís really a pity we didnít get more. I really love listening to the Romanian language, itís a lovely language for singing.
    Indeed, the arts were heavily censored and so there was limited scope for artistic expression. But arguably, if it weren't for the censorship we might never have those Phoenix albums, as Phoenix drew on folklore for inspiration in response to the regime's objections to the western-style beat music they had been playing up to that point and insiting on music drawn from Romanian culture and tradition.

    Quote Originally Posted by smcfee View Post
    I did a show on Romanian prog earlier this year: https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/112/55200.html

    Basically the original post hit on all the ones I'd recommend most.

    A nice little "proggy" folk album that I have not seen mentioned is Nicu Alifantis' "După Melci". Drummer of Phoenix and keyboardist of Sfinx appear.
    Great playlist, thank you for sharing!

    Yes, "După Melci" is good. I'd forgotten about that one.

  21. #21
    Cristal have one or two proggy tracks on their 1985 self-titled album Cristal. However, the album is patchy and inconsistent in terms of style.


  22. #22
    Three tracks from Doru Stănculescu (with Dan Andrei Aldea) – De Alaltăieri Și P‚nă Ieri:
    1. Ion Voda Cumplitul



    2: Avram Iancu


    3: Scrisoarea Soldatului De Orsiunde

  23. #23
    Ethos - Caut Nume. Such a shame this band never recorded an album.



    Ethos - Miezul Noptii



    Ethos - Sinteze polifonice


  24. #24
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Thanks for the thread, Svettie.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    I would like to recommend the following.

    Phoenix. All three LPs from the original era but Cantofabule especially. Their esoteric merger of progressive hard rock with various folk tones from the entire Tatra region makes for a stew which still stands solely on its own. Nothing ever really sounded quite like it. Their backstory is highly interesting as well, with Nicolae Covaci's standing out. Three members smuggled themselves out of Romania and to the West during one of the 70s communist party's purges by hiding in a set of large amplifier-cabinets on loan from Germany, after reliable information that they'd been targeted by the infamous Securitate (secret police) for having musicians of Jewish and Romani heritage in their ranks - but likely because they were perceived as harboring "subversive" attitudes in lyrics and appeal.

    Sfinx. First two albums are both very listenable. While most folks seem to prefer Zalmoxe for its faint resemblance to "symphonic" rock credentials, I think their debut (Lume Alba) is even better. Halfway between proto-progressive, folk and pop, there are some magnificent tunes on it.

    Progresiv TM. First album (Dreptul de a Visa is alright and somewhat in between Jethro Tull and Deep Purple. The much rarer Puterea Muzicii contains sophisticated, epic hard rock with odd nods to other Eastern European such artists of the day (notably Progres2 from Czechoslowakia and East from Hungary), but the music is still highly personal and their own.
    I only know those three.

    Bought two CDs from Phoenix (including Cantofabule) and really like them

    I own an original vinyl from Sfinx and one from Progresssiv TLM - both gifts from my 1/2 Romanian sister-in-law (brother's wife). Both albums are their second, but they're nothing to write home about (IMHO)

    The rest dioesn't sound to engagingn but I'll listenn to what's on offer here, ASAP.
    Last edited by Trane; 08-04-2022 at 04:35 AM.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by AnotherFineMess View Post
    Indeed, the arts were heavily censored and so there was limited scope for artistic expression. But arguably, if it weren't for the censorship we might never have those Phoenix albums, as Phoenix drew on folklore for inspiration in response to the regime's objections to the western-style beat music they had been playing up to that point and insiting on music drawn from Romanian culture and tradition.
    It is a mixed bag. Because of censorship, "Cei Ce Ne-au Dat Nume" was a single instead of a double-LP. They were able to curry favor with "Mugur de Fluier", by mixing in those folkloric elements, but I believe all the "Lasă, Lasă" interludes are shorter than they could have been. "Cantofabule" is really the only album where they were allowed to be themselves, and even that there were issues (they wanted to call it "Cantafabule", for one thing, which they were eventually able to fix on the 1996 reissue).

    I have mentioned this before, but I had a Romanian coworker 20 years ago who had followed the scene there and told me a bunch about it. One thing I remember him mentioning was that groups like Post Scriptum and Celelalte Cuvinte were better live than what we heard on record, because they had to make compromises to get recorded.

    So I tend to be on the side of the argument that what we got from Romania would have been better without government interference. You compare it to Yugoslavia where there appears to have been more artistic freedom, and a richer output was the result.
    Infinite Ceiling on www.ckcufm.com every Thursday night at 8:30 with me or Mark Keill, archived shows: https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/112/...tml?filter=all
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