It was a day, during the year 2004. 6 years ago, already.
It was in a small flat of a friend of mine, down the grey suburbs of Budapest, Hungary. A certain type of border with the very close Balkans territory.
An afternoon end, where the late sunlights were burning the curtains, and my face, getting me out of a too late nap.
This friend just came back from a small trip to Romania, a few hundred Kms ago. In his suitcase, not only alcoholical souvenirs, but also musicals stuffs. A contempory piece of music. An audio tape, called « Etno party »
On the top picture of the tape, you can see it, a well done mix of amateur photoshop art and romanian rural bad taste. Don’t smile, hiphop mixtapes are as ugly as that sometimes. « Crazy things ! It is folkloric dance music ! » he told me. He keeps on telling me things about this tape, arguing that in Romania, this type of sound is heard everywhere, by everyone. Olds, youngs, in bus, taxis, restaurants, bars…
Then, we decided to listen one tune.
Radu Ille : Sam ca Cant sa cant. Something like « when we sing ».
Radu Ille, the tune : Sam sa cant sa cant.
The singer and artist, originaly from the Maramures Montains, in North Romania, is a bit like a superstar in Romania, a big boy into the Etno Music, or Manele, industry. Folk bling bling, traditionals suits and bimbos smelling like fresh cutten up grass.Brand new Mercedes rolling down the broken roads of romanian countryside. Here it is for the visual.
At that time, it sounds incredible for me. It was like a crazy impossible wedding, but wich seems very actual and modern for romanian peoples.
Hip-hop, Dub, Drum n’ bass was for me very new things. I mean, I was living in it, passionately. No, there, it was allready part of the popular sound landscape. And for a country like Romania, there, the witheout-big monney producers and Dj’s were playing with thoose codes since few years allready.
They were mixing digital riddims with very tradionals folk songs, tzigans melodies, rural tunes. Maramures Drum n’ Bass. Digital reggae from Bucurest. Fusion Hip Hop from Cluj.
All that mixed with the singer echos, and a big dose of Romanian and Eastern Europe Kitsch Folklore. Of course, I am conscious that this tune will not sound good according to purist of Bass music, or also to true Folkloric lovers.
Of course, you can tell me « bad taste »…Anyway, it is something. Like reverse Sono Global.
Here, it is the folk businnes, that samples digital riddims. Not the other way, as usual. When folk music, takes pieces and parts of bass music to create a new style, in order to send Folk into the 21st century, for everyone.
Latter, when I used to travel down across Eastern Europe, I decided to bring with me a few CD’s and tapes of Etno everytime. Every single track is symbolic of this strange musical globalisation, for the good, and the bad.
Le meilleur et le pire. Now, I use to play a tune like this at every gig and party when I am « at the control ».
Peoples sometimes look at me, smiling weirdly, but still dancing like crazy.
Try to listen to this, maybe be you will take pleasure doing that. And they are so many different styles of Etno and Manele, a huge universe of unknown music for a frenchy like me. It stills drive me mad sometimes, a little vodka or Palinka glass alongside with me.
Here is the videoclip of this tune. A desert highway, some fresh romanian girls, and here we go !
(to be continued, with romanian Hip-Hop band Parazitii and others crazy balkan culture mixes…)