Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Abstract Index playlist - September 27/06

I’m fairly new to Romanian music, having only started to pick up on the fascinating collisions of cultures and styles of Eastern Europe while researching an article last year. As with most features I write, I can’t stop researching once I’m finished the piece. One of the most welcome reissue series I’ve come across this year has been Sounds From A Bygone Age. This series is dedicated to the reappraisal of vintage Romanian recordings of the 60s. Each of these reissues has been a revelation of Roma and other Romanian sounds in the Soviet era. The sound quality of each is lush and soundstagey, having been recorded in well appointed state-owned studios in Bucharest.

The latest volume features the “disturbing and androgynous” falsetto vocals of Dona Dimitru Siminica over profoundly melancholic Wallachian-derived love songs. How to describe the vocals? I’ve never heard a falsetto like it – he’s compared to Tiny Tim in the liner notes, but that belittles his command of his vocal style. Nor will comparisons to Smokey Robinson or Curtis Mayfield cut it - maybe the closest comparison in terms of feel if not timbre is Jimmy Scott. His falsetto a burnished, honeyed quality, and soaked through with heartbreak. One lyric translates as “I was having too good a time next to her/to notice she loved the other man” – a classic blues couplet to be sure. Instrumentation is dominated by accordion and cymbalom and offbeat rhythms which also recall ska. Just fascinating stuff: evocative, weirdly familiar and highly affecting. If you like the idea of the nuevo tango of Astor Piazzolla mashed up with Antony and the Johnsons and a touch of Jackie Wilson, this may be up your alley. Great music to get hammered to.

cine are fata mare - dona dumitru siminica (asphalt tango)
for the cosmic whistler - drumheller (rat drifting)
groove disorder - handslang (indie)
cancel - venetian snares (planet mu)
gani lasmar - hossam ramzy (arc)
barra - hadja kouyate & les guineeans (frikyiwa)
sangisangy - african guitar summit (cbc)
ponteio - edu lobo (verve)
after ararat - nostalgia (tru thoughts)
siompon - ariesta biwara (shadoks)
this old world is going down - modulations (numero)
dancing time - the funkees (afrostrut)
nata raaj - debashish bhattacharya (riverboat)
dedicated to ronnie boykins - dierdre murray & fred hopkins (ambiences magnetiques)
instrumental - marche mokolo (riverboat)
el cielo - radio citizen (ubiquity)
material man - u roy feat. max romeo (tabou 1)
materialist - horace andy (trojan)
dig out dub - irie band (independent)
real love - tamlins (mango)
computer malfunction - sly and robbie (island)


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