streda 26. februára 2020

Rodion G.A.‎– The Lost Tapes

Rumunský elektronický/rockový experimentátor Rodion Ladislau Rosca a jeho kapela RODION G.A. Možno sa ti to bude páčiť, ak máš rád napr. českých Progres 2, Blue Effect/M. Effect, Bohemia a pod., ale je to viac také "space rockové/psychadelické".

rodion ga-lost tapes.rar


Rozsiahle info o pozabudnutom interpretovi (z Discogs): 

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. After years of obscurity, and only a handful of singles ever released officially, Rodion’s music is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

The year is 2012 and a silver haired man in a v-neck jumper is moving nervously on stage before a hushed crowd at an electronic music festival in Bucharest. On a desk in front of him, two ’70s Tesla reel-to-reel machines are starting to run a set of magnetic tapes that are older than most of the people in the audience. Soon the sound of flanged, phased and fuzzed electricity is buzzing throughout the hall, connecting the hip young crowd to one of Romania’s true musical pioneers, and what is a forgotten chapter in their cultural history. The dark and mysterious psychedelic noise that emerges from the rudimentary equipment is as raw and futuristic as when it was recorded during the darkest days of Ceaușescu’s regime.

It was back in 1975 that Rodion Ladislau Roșca founded a group that would create an electronic sound unique in the claustrophobic cultural landscape of those times. But with only two tracks ever released, the music of Rodion G.A has been hidden away on dusty tapes ever since. Beneath the decades of dust, though, is a music that reveals an alternative Romania, one that inhabited a subterranean niche completely opposed to the polished surface of the local state-sanctioned rock. Rejecting the obedience of the old musical order, the music of Rodion G.A. created an impossible, dark and romantic utopia in the middle of the most disastrous dystopia engulfing the country. And now thanks to a new school of local music makers and archivists, the lost tapes of Rodion are about to reach their rightful audience.

The son of a Romanian father and a Hungarian mother, he grew up Cluj in the North West during an optimistic time for the country. The early liberalisation of Nicolae Ceaușescu had brought a new openness to Romania between 1965 and 1972. His independent foreign policy and challenges to the authority of the Soviet Union (including a condemnation of its invasion of Czechoslovakia) had made Ceaușescu a popular leader in the West and something of a maverick figure in the Eastern Bloc. Nixon visited Romania in 1969 with a sign at Bucharest airport proclaiming: “Long Live the Friendship Between the Romanian and the American Peoples.” In turn Ceaușescu was invited to the US and UK on state trips. The easing of censorship liberated musicians as an open policy with Western Europe and the United States created fertile conditions for cross-pollination. Western artists including Blood Sweat & Tears and jazz legends like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Lionel Hampton began to tour in Romania, often collaborating with local artists. This was a golden age for East European jazz and the state owned record label Electrecord released a wide range of records by artists like roma gypsy bassist Johnny Răducanu and his Bucharest Jazz Quintet and female vocalist Aura Urziceanu. Also on Electrecord came bands like Phoenix, Sincron, and Mondial mixing Romanian folk and freaky psych in what was the beginning of a thriving prog rock scene.

His hometown of Cluj had a healthy music culture at the time spawning its own prog rock groups like Chromatic and Experimental Quartet (later to become the influential jazz fusion band Experimental Quintet). As well as soaking up local sounds, Rodion made regular trips across the border in Hungary where records were easier to come by. He also expanded his musical horizons by corresponding with collectors in countries as far away as Norway and Japan through the latter’s Music Life magazine. “Life was like a Facebook for us in the 1970s,” he recalls. “You could connect with people from around the world.” He soon had an enviable and much in-demand collection, earning him the name “King Of Records” amongst the many friends he made tapes for. As well as the mainstream rock, he also started to collect the more progressive electronic sounds emerging from both the West and East.

Inspired by the futuristic music he heard in groups like Kraftwerk and Romania’s Sfinx, he started to experiment with his own basic equipment, picking up ideas from a friend who was into electronics. His first sessions were recorded onto tape between 1969-72 and set him apart from the rock template that dominated Romanian music. These early recordings were sparse and haunting pieces with vocals, guitars and improvised drums recorded and often distorted through his innovative use of reel to reel. The tracks anticipated his later explorations into sound and his long-standing interest in echo. Listening back to this music now there is a menace and urgency that seems somehow prophetic.

In 1971, Ceaușescu visited both the People’s Republic of China and North Korea. There he was inspired both by the programmes, and more worryingly the personality cult, of leaders like Kim Il Sung. On his return to Romania he set in course policies to emulate the North Korea system known as the Juche Idea, outlined in a Maoist speech that came to be known as the July Theses. It contained proposals such as the continuous growth in the “leading role” of the Party and most tellingly for musicians, an expansion of political propaganda and the promotion of a “militant, revolutionary” character in artistic productions. The liberalisation of 1965 was condemned and an index of banned books and authors was re-established. It wasn’t long before the fear and paranoia reached musicians.

Rodion’s response was to look to the future with music that was as alien as it was defiant, echoing the DIY ethic of post punk movements across the world. He formed Rodion G.A in 1975, the ‘G.A.’ taken from the forenames of the two other founding band members Gicu Fărcaș and Adrian Căpraru. By now Rodion had amassed a collection of basic electronic equipment and had become something of a DIY tech wizard, improvising with his own techniques of composing using reel to reels. Surrounded by four Tesla machines, he would record beats and guitars on one channel, then stop and add other instruments on the other – a raw means of multi-tracking mirrored by the early disco pioneers. He also used other methods to add effects and delays on both instruments and vocals, transforming a Tesla into an echo machine. Other tools in his sonic armoury included an East German Vermona drum machine, a toy Casio VL Tone and a little Soviet-made Faemi organ to which he added phaser, flanger and fuzz pedals.

Rodion was not alone in advancing Romanian music through the use of electronics at the turn of the ‘80s. Adrian Enescu had graduated from the “Ciprian Porumbescu” Music Conservatory in Bucharest before releasing synth laden film soundracks and LPs like the cosmic leaning Funky Synthesizer Vol 1&2. At the same time, Mircea Florian had moved from a folk and experimental rock background to record both minimalist and new wave electronic music. Others, like the previously mentioned Sfinx and Progresiv TM, followed suit but nearly all leaned towards prog rock. The electronic music recorded by Rodion G.A. was different though: an urgent and defiant assault on the senses that remains forward sounding today.

There were undoubtedly echoes of bands like Goblin, Kraftwerk and the more extreme end of krautrock. But the music recorded at his home studio in Cluj between 1978 and 1984, and presented here, was a unique and heady brew: dense, visceral synth sounds set against raw programmed rhythms, with intricate and unusual arrangements that touched on everything from prog and classical to freaky funk and electro. Listen to ‘Cântec Fulger’ and you are transported to a dark and forbidding place where Giallo keyboards pierce your cerebral cortex. Or ‘Citadela’ a bowel shifting slab of industrial funk that weighs heavily on your mind long after the last analogue hooks have let you go. And then there is ‘Diagonala’ a brooding piece of electronic music with a mid section that wouldn’t be out of place on late night pirate radio. But most importantly this was music that could only have been made in Romania during this oppressive time: On ‘Alpha Centauri’ it’s as if the ghosts of the country’s folk past are now locked in the circuits of the machine.

Despite this futuristic music confounding and confronting the establishment in equal measure, Electrecord did release two of Rodion G.A’s more rock orientated tracks ‘Acolo Unde E Mister’ and ‘Amintiri’ on the 1981 compilation Formații Rock Vol. 5. But five further live recordings for Radio Cluj remained unreleased, despite radio airings. Listen to the mutinous noise of cuts like ‘Stele Si Lumini’ and you can understand why it might have disturbed the “Council of Romanian Radio and Television”, whose policy guidelines were received directly from the Party. Always the forward thinker, during the Cluj session, Rodion asked the sound engineer to allow him to record all of the instrumentals onto his own Tesla machine, directly from the main mixer. He would then use these samples to build new tracks on his own tape machines, in the home studio where the tracks on this CD were recorded. So on ‘Caravane’ and ‘Disco Mania’ it’s actually the beats of ‘Ore’ and ‘Moment’ that you hear alongside the drums of Gicu Fărcaș.

Some of the band’s recordings were picked up by national radio and the group even hit the top of the Romanian radio and magazine charts. Beyond this brief exposure, however, there were no other releases. Undeterred, they toured extensively during the early ‘80s with various line-ups bringing the same DIY ethic to their live performances as to their recordings.Rodion made his own rig by hand, complete with ‘Rodion G.A.’-branded speaker boxes and amps. “I was fed up of speakers blowing and having to find new ones,” explains Rodion. “So I learned to make them myself.”

Although the grip on culture became increasingly tight as political conditions worsened, a live rock scene continued to exist in Romania during the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Gigs mainly happened within a network of festivals around the country and at restaurants and clubs in seaside towns during the Summer months. By now music sung in English was banned but groups would break the rules by playing Western covers. This meant that venue owners had to be extremely careful, never knowing when inspectors might drop by. The censorship was often as absurd as it was unsettling. Rodion remembers one occasion when an inspector came to listen to another band sound check. “Despite singing in Romanian, the official pulled them up for singing ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ during a chorus,” he says. Rodion G.A continued to plough on, appearing at festivals and venues across Cluj, Buzău and Timişoara but were never invited to play in Bucharest despite their radio plays.

In the mid-‘80s, Rodion wrote the soundtrack to an animated movie, Delta Space Mission, but the film company used Adrian Enescu instead. He also composed music for a theatre play and ballet both performed at Romanian National Opera in Cluj. Scores for gymnastic routines also helped provide some income. But all of these projects proved to be short-lived while bookings became more and more sparse. The group’s only remaining performances were a handful of shows on Romanian television, including a programme to celebrate New Year’s Eve in 1980. They eventually split in 1987 after a gig at the Mangalia Festival on the Eastern coast. Soon afterwards, Rodion walked away from music following the death of his mother and essentially withdrew completely from the public eye.

An anonymous figure now, he travelled to London several times during the early ‘90s and worked as a labourer. His interest in music never wavered, though and with the money he saved from labouring he bought a Casio keyboard and recorded a few new tracks back home. His interest in sound also remained and since his withdrawal into obscurity he continued to run his own low-key business, servicing and repairing speakers and music equipment.

But back in Bucharest, interest in this most enigmatic figure was growing amongst a new generation of Romanian music lovers. Blogger and film maker Sorin Luca had become intrigued by the mythology around Rodion. He finally found him after months of searching and posted a handful of his unreleased tracks online, along with video footage of the band’s 1980 New Year’s Eve concert. The links came to the attention of a young music collective called Future Nuggets. Based in Bucharest, this group of producers and musicians had been forging a new homegrown sound whilst mining Romania’s musical past. On hearing the lost tapes they were blown away. “When I heard this I could not believe how this music was not public,” explains Ion Dumitrescu. “We have such a very poor history in electronic music and this was there unexploited. And there was this feeling that we have to do something.” A live comeback gig in Bucharest was proposed, the first for Rodion in over 25 years with members of Future Nuggets making up his backing band. The venue was packed for the return of one of the country’s true pioneers. At the same time, the innovative fusion sounds of Future Nuggets had reached the inquisitive ears of Stevie Kotey. His Ambassador’s Reception label released ‘Sounds Of The Unheard From Romania’ in 2012 and the acclaimed psych-jazz project, Steaua de Mare this April. The buzz on the Romanian underground is strong with support from DJs like Andrew Weatherall who named ‘Sounds Of The Unheard From Romania’ one of his favourite LPs of 2012.

And while the new school continue to take inspiration from the Godfather of Romanian electronic music, Strut are proud to present this forgotten icon to a new audience with The Lost Tapes. Re-mastered from the original reel to reel tapes, this revolutionary music serves as a document of an artist who would not surrender to the passivity of the mainstream. It will hopefully see the name of Rodion Ladislau Roșca take a prominent place in the unofficial museum of sonic oddities that lay hidden behind the iron curtain. Music made in the past but undoubtedly for the future, by a man right up there in the international pantheon of electronic music.


Reference of Romanian alternative rock.

Pozri viac rumunského, aj bulharského undergroundu/psych-rocku:


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