Adrian Raso

Devil's Tale

Canada

The Eastern European force field of Balkan brass music meets Canadian Gypsy swing & jazz guitar.

Legend has it that the Devil likes to frequent crossroads, cutting deals for souls and spinning his cunning yarns. Yet not all crossroad pacts are diabolical; some are just damned brilliant. Take the crossroads encounter behind Devil’s Tale, where the eastern force field of Balkan brass meets Gypsy jazz guitar, as Romania's Fanfare Ciocarlia joins up with Canadian guitarist Adrian Raso. Fanfare Ciocarlia are a 24-legged brass beast whose eastern funk groove has torn up halls and festivals across the planet. Raso is a master guitarist, deeply versed in the French Manouche / Gypsy jazz stylings of Django Reinhardt. Could a string musician find a way into Fanfare's fierce Balkan brass blast? Could the legends of brass adapt their horns to the fluid eloquence of a jazz guitarist? The answer, as heard on this album, is one of brilliant defiance. Dig the rush: the Romanians and the Canadian have created a sound that rips and swings and roars. Adrian Raso has dreamt of this project for years. The gifted guitarist possesses a vast musical vocabulary rooted in Gypsy jazz yet, in his fleet fingers, capable of referencing metal, Latin, funk and his family's Italian tarantella roots. Raso built his virtuoso reputation playing Toronto's toughest clubs as a teenager. More than two decades later he remains on a musical quest that demands he challenge himself. The quest lead to him reaching out to Fanfare Ciocarlia - the Romany Gypsy orchestra from the "invisible" village of Zece Prajini in north eastern Romania - who blast a fierce, very individual brand of Balkan brass. Both Raso and Fanfare share a love of Django Reinhardt and big band jazz but initial concerns surrounded whether their very different backgrounds would allow for a common musical dialogue to ensure. "Meeting the band was a great experience," says Raso. "We bonded instantly. We joked about being separated brothers as it really did feel like that. Musically we understood each other from the get go." Fanfare Ciocarlia are the world's greatest Balkan brass band. When a band is at the top, the undisputed heavyweight champion, they have two options: either get lazy and repeat themselves or seek out new challenges. Fanfare Ciocarlia are hungry men and, having seen too many Balkan brass bands descend into the farce of playing-standards-too-fast or allowing tone deaf DJs to exploit them as decoration over a lame electronic beat, they chose to broaden Balkan brass's vocabulary. Meeting Adrian Raso gave Fanfare the perfect musical foil. Across several chilly Toronto days the Romanians and the Canadian came together. Raso called in several heavy friends to contribute to sessions. These included legendary guitarists John Jorgenson and Rodrigo (of Rodrigo & Gabriela) and rock drummer Kevin Figueiredo (of Extreme). This album - reaching down to New Orleans, across the Atlantic to Paris, deep into the Balkans and back through decaying Detroit to Toronto's grandeur - is the result. What wild beauty these men created! Raso's guitar sets off on a fluid journey, caressing and cajoling the horns who tell tales of a music that has ancestors in Africa and India, one shaped in old Europe and young America. Perhaps no one involved guessed such wild beauty would result from these sessions. Here it is: Adrian Raso and Fanfare Ciocarlia have created a music rooted in jazz and the Balkans, a sound full of history but looking towards the future. No clichés here - No gimmicks. Just obsessed musicians all determined to raise their game and chase sonic dreams. Spread the word - here is magic that might charm even jaded old Mephistopheles!

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Adrian Raso

Gypsybilly King

Canada

A journey from dusty Balkan roads, to deep south swamps, from Parisian rooms to Gypsy bars in Prague. Zegna pinstripe suit, black Biltmore Eleganza fedora and Ted Baker tie: Adrian Raso is a sharply dressed man. The Toronto guitarist cuts a raffish figure, as he plays observers might just imagine him having succumbed to the old blues myth of selling his soul so to become a master musician. Raso defiantly blends a vast musical vocabulary that sees his supple guitar technique reference Django Reinhardt’s Gypsy jazz stylings and Brian Setzer rockabilly licks, whilst his diverse songwriting channels Johnny Cash’s ghost and deep south voodoo - drawing a clear line through these disparate yet similar musical-sociological traditions. Cutting his teeth playing tough Toronto dive bars, Raso came to realise he preferred forging his own path. Having released several solo albums in Canada, Raso’s 2014 collaboration with superstar Romanian brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia “Devil’s Tale’” ( Asphalt Tango Records ) secured his international reputation. Never before had East met West so successfully, the album, one of the first to combine Balkan/ Gypsy style rhythms with Mediterranean music, charted #1 on the World Music Charts and earned wide critical praise and a myriad awards. In 2019 Raso released his follow up and 10th studio album aptly titled “Gypsybilly King”. Blending furious Rockabilly guitar with influences ranging from Country Western, Romanian Hora, deep south Blues and Italian Tarantella. Raso seamlessly moves us from a smoky room in Paris to an after-hours bar in Prague, before quietly taking us down a dusty road in Texas, until finally settling in the dark streets of New Orleans. Mixed and mastered by Grammy Award-winning engineer Bob St. John, the album also features collaborations with the likes of Prince’s drummer Michael Bland, The Stray Cats bassist Lee Rocker, along with multiple members of Del Bel.

CD & digital

13 € up to 15 €

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Annique

Walk On (single)

UK

Smokily atmospheric, sophisticated folk pop, suffused with angelic choruses, and heartfelt soul.

Annique’s voice is for the inner ear and open heart, a soul singer’s instrument carrying the freight of past greats while trailing its own strong colours. Growing up in Rainham, Essex, Annique travelled out on the strength of her voice, studying at the Academy of Contemporary Music before working with the likes of The Streets and Gorillaz, drum’n’bass outfit Step 13 and then teaming up with Koby Israelite at his south London studio. Together, Annique and Koby summon up a smokily atmospheric, sophisticated adult pop, suffused with angelic choruses, strong lyrics and heartfelt soul. The track 'Walk on' features the infamous Fanfare Ciocarlia.

digital only

1 €

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Annique

Heads Up

UK

For the inner ear and open heart, a soul singer’s instrument carrying the freight of past greats.

Growing up in Rainham, Essex, Annique travelled out on the strength of her voice, studying at the Academy of Contemporary Music before working with the likes of The Streets and Gorillaz, drum’n’bass outfit Step 13 and then teaming up with Koby Israelite at his south London studio for a series of informal writing sessions that have become Heads Up. Together, Annique and Koby summon up a smokily atmospheric, sophisticated adult pop, suffused with angelic choruses, strong lyrics and heartfelt soul. You can hear World Music, Jazz and Rock. It’s mature Pop with dark, shady recesses, theatrical and bittersweet. Accordion, piano, guitars and brass coalesce in a widescreen sweep, underpinned by the bass lines of session masters Don Chandler, Neil Charles and Yaron Stavi, and topped by the poise and candour of Annique’s vocals, mixed by Grammy Award-winning producer Helik Hadar. “We pulled out No Man’s Land.” Annique remembers of their first session. By their third, they had Never Forget The Times, the album’s signature torch song, dressed with a melody and vocals big enough to light up the darkest corners. Their working method is up-close and old-school – sitting in the same room, over the same instrument, the piano, guitar or accordion. “We write the songs together and she writes the lyrics on her own,” says Koby, and the lyrics are smart and insightful, shaped by a lifelong education in Pop, Jazz, R&B, and dance music. There is the sultry, close-harmony likes of Falling, set beside the wiser voice of title song Heads Up, and Loved Not Understood, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s famous maxim that ‘women should be loved not understood’. Love of My Life is a devotional song to music itself while the dramatic, pulsating London’s Burning was written during the 2011 riots in London. “I was stuck at Koby’s house in south London. We saw all this smoke down in Peckham, so I stayed at his until it died down,” remembers Annique. Also sporting a social message, and a viral hit across social media, So Many C**ts is short for – well, hear it for yourself. “It’s not a protest song,” says Koby, “but it’s my favourite on the album. There’s an extra something to it, an emotion.”

CD & digital

10 €

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Besh o droM

Gyi!

Hungary

Eastern European tradition is not preserving ashes, but passing on the fire!

CD only

10 €

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Besh o droM

Can't Make Me!

Hungary

Attention, World Music fans beware: the Hungarians are coming!

Here is a Hungarian group whose following takes to the dance floor at the first notes of each concert and just can not stop dancing. Besh o droM's music is a highly original alloy of East European folk music vernaculars such as Hungarian, Rumanian, Bulgarian, Southern Slav, Greek musical dialects, not to speak of the marked Gypsy, Turkish and Mid-East leanings. The group often finds itself at odds with the folk purists as they take their material out of the museum showcase to arrange it in their highly original fashion - considering this heritage as anyone's treasure trove. Their name, Besh o droM, is a Gipsy idiom for 'Go your own way!'. And so they do. The New York Times ‘"… An oom-pah that's unstoppable at any speed... ...The Hungarian band Besh o droM plays a more self-conscious but still adrenalized fusion of music from around and beyond the Balkans …"

released January 24, 2003

CD & Download

10 €

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Cigdem Aslan

Mortissa

Turkey

A rising star in the revival of rebetiko. Bitter-sweet, devil-may-care songs of an exiled Balkan underclass.

‘Mortissa’ (a strong independent woman) is an album of smyrneika/rebetiko songs in Greek and Turkish with musical roots in Anatolia. This 'Blues of the Aegean' arose in the turbulent times of the 1920s. Rebetiko was at one time banned by both Greek and Turkish authorities for being socially degenerative. Alongside love songs, one song celebrates the Robin Hood style outlaw Mehmet Efe, another is a cry of a woman longing to escape from her veil, yet another talks of “leeks” as a euphemism for hashish, and in “Sto Kafe Aman” the mortissa tells her suitors to go sling their hook. This is the music of the alternative, the underground scene, the music of freedom-loving people; appropriate for the current situation. 2013 is not the first time that the beautiful city of Istanbul has been in turmoil, like a cursed diamond. Full of meaning for all who have experienced it, it is no surprise that singer Çiğdem Aslan, who was born to Kurdish Alevi parents in Sisli, not far from Taksim Square, the focus for the pro-democracy protests, has felt concerned and deeply involved, even from a distance. Back in 1955 state-sponsored riots decimated the Greek population of Istanbul. Before that the Turkish republican movement and war of liberation forced Greeks out of the rest of Anatolia.

CD & digital

10 €

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Cigdem Aslan

A Thousand Cranes

Turkey

Çiğdem Aslan’s 2nd album. Like cranes, music travels, taking oriental sounds and stories to different lands.

Çiğdem Aslan’s second album "A Thousand Cranes" takes its name after tourna/ τ ούρνα (crane), a migratory bird with strong symbolism in many cultures and mythologies. Mostly portrayed as messengers in songs, poems and stories, the cranes are the bearers of teachings, culture and tradition; their longevity standing as a symbol of family, good fortune and eternal youth; their dance a celebration of love and joy. But the cranes will also stand as partners to those missing their homelands and loved ones in the sadness of their exile. Some believe that cranes are carriers of the souls inhabiting our human bodies. Cranes are lovers of freedom, also representing prosperity and beauty. But above all, they stand as a symbol of peace… Like cranes, music travels, taking sounds and stories to different lands; it evolves, changes and yet, remains the same. "A Thousand Cranes" is an effort to tell some of these stories. From the 1920's Smyrna and Istanbul of Çiğdem's debut album "Mortissa", "A Thousand Cranes" expands to Athens, the Balkans and South East Anatolia. A band of world class musicians, led once again by the musical director Nikolaos Baimpas, accompanies her journey with a modern and crisp sound, embellishing the deep rooted melodies with modern jazzy influences and inspired improvisations. As a continuation of the journey, this second album was recorded in one of Athens' historical studios AntArt, where the likes of Theodorakis and Hadjidakis recorded their most famous compositions.

CD & digital

10 €

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Dona Dumitru Siminica

Sounds from a bygone Age Vol. 3

Romania

Recordings from the former Romanian comunist state record label, featuring the Gypsy singer Dona Dumitru Siminica.

When Dona Dumitru Siminica sang "cantece de pahar" (drinking songs), "cantece de jale" (laments) or "cantece de dragoste" (love songs) in the Bucharest garden café "La Chirigiu" or in the luxurious Opera restaurant, the tables filled with guests almost as quickly as the glasses with tuica or wine and the patron's till with Lei. For Dona Dumitru Siminica sang Romanian blues from the suburbs, delicately ornamented songs weaving between sorrow and trance, slow, never-ending ballads such as "Cine are fata mare". Songs which offered consolation to the lonely, tended the wounds of the lovesick, and prepared those newly-infatuated for the end of their love. With his dramatic falsetto voice Dona Dumitru Siminica could hardly sing cheerful dance tunes. Dona Dumitru Siminica was born in Targoviste in 1926. His family came from this provincial lautari stronghold not far from Bucharest and was attracted to the capital by the building boom between the wars. Siminica's father worked on building sites during the day and played his violin in the evenings in the suburban restaurants in Herestrau and Floreasca. At that time the Siminica family lived in the same yard as the Gore brothers, who Dona Dumitru Siminica later performed with at weddings. The young Gypsy inherited both the talent and the instrument from his father, trained as a bricklayer and spent a long time working as a site manager, singer and violinist, before establishing himself as a freelancer in the music scene in 1962. Siminica had a disturbing, androgynous falsetto voice and a large number of female fans who hung on to every word uttered by the man in the bespoke suit with the immaculate hairstyle and carefully clipped moustache for nights on end. His songs fell out of time, creating a soulful centre of peace countering the noise of the factories. This repertoire of quiet suburban songs (muzica lautareasca) ideally suited the cultivated musician's introverted character. As early as the late forties the Bucharest public wended their way to a restaurant at "Amzei" market, more to hear Siminica's high voice than his skill on the violin: After all he mainly sang melodic, richly ornamented melismatic love songs there, which had been fashionable in the salons of Wallachian boyars back in the 18th and 19th century. Urbane Romanian music had always helped itself to Greek and Turkish culture, because Bucharest was, in addition to Romanians, also populated by Greeks, (OHNE:from Istanbul) Turks, Armenians, Jews, Aromanians and Gypsies. It was not until the 20th century that the Romanian middle classes began to orient themselves culturally towards Western Europe, before the mainstream then radically veered towards cheaply produced Orient pop after 1990. Dona Dumitru Siminica was first called upon to make recordings for the radio in the fifties -he was also part of the inner circle of informants on the repertoire of the urbane Gypsy orchestras known as tarafs in the Bucharest Institute for Folklore. Whenever he sang there, several of his friends were always waiting in the Institute's courtyard, ready to help Siminica drink his earnings in a nearby café after the session. The accordion player Faramita Lambru was also a regular guest at the Institute. Lambru, the great Maria Tanase's favourite accompanist, played classics with Dona Dumitru Siminica such as "Afara e intuneric" and "La salul cel negru", which are released outside Romania for the first time on this CD. For his best recordings Dona Dumitru Siminica assembled a Lautari dream team around himself, including Marin Marangros (cymbalom), the Bebe brothers and Costica Serban (acc.) and Grigore Ciuciuc (bass). Siminica once came only with his favourite accordion player Costica Serban and a violinist to the Electrecord studio, getting the missing bass player from the nearest pub by the old market halls, which later yielded to Ceausescu's uncontrolled demolition mania. It was a sensation and only due to a short cultural and educational policy thaw that a few records of urbane music with Gypsy lyrics found their way into shops in Romania in the seventies. At that time Dona Dumitru Siminica was the most widely exposed singer of muzica lautareasca and only he and a lesser-known singer were able to record a few songs in Gypsy language at Electrecord. Dona Dumitru Siminica was respected and admired by Romanians and Gypsies alike, because he was able to sing songs from both communities. Other singers, such as Victor Gore or Gabi Lunca, didn't trust themselves to sing in Gypsy language, but Siminica always gently resisted the increasing pressure towards assimilation in the seventies and eighties. "Lelita floare" about a man whose wife has run away, but he cannot live without her, or "La salul cel negru", in which a man who is head over heels in love realises that his beloved loves another, became his songs, just like "Osoreia osbaro" in Gypsy language, in which a man bemoans his poor health. He has many children to feed and doesn't know how he will cope. For that reason he enviously sings of the "forest that is beautiful, healthy and bursting with energy". Until this day hardly anyone in Bucharest attempts to sing these songs, which Dona Dumitru Siminica made so famous, that "Cine are fata mare" turned up on a Bregovic soundtrack at the beginning of the nineties. At the beginning of the eighties Dona Dumitru Siminica was found dead in the staircase of his building in Bucharest's Grivita quarter. On the morning after a wedding his heart had just stopped beating. His death did not make the headlines in the Romanian party-controlled press and to this day he is only known abroad by insiders. However, like the majority of Romania's great Gypsy musicians from the vanishing Lautari scene, there are no recordings, no interviews, and no books about this extraordinary singer, who moved in a relatively untouched niche world outside the state-sanctioned and highly stylised folklore. Nothing can tell us more about the phenomenon of Dona Dumitru Siminica than his songs, which bring back the sound of old Bucharest before it is completely forgotten.

CD only

10 €

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Dzambo Agusevi Orchestra

Brasses for the Masses

North Macedonia

Heralding the future of the Balkan brass sound, "Brasses for the Masses" is a reflection of Džambo’s vision for Balkan brass music. Across the albums twelve track journey Džambo pays respect to the regional roots of the genera, whilst combining hard grooves and uplifting melodies, bringing the music to the dancefloors of a younger generation. From humble beginnings in his Macedonian village of Strumica, to packing out festival dance floors across Europe as the leader of his

Vinyl, CD & digital

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Earth Wheel Sky Band

Band Waltz Rromano

Serbia

Musical greats collaborating from across the gypsy music scene.

After almost 40 years on stage, legendary figure of musical scene in Novi Sad, Olah Vince is stepping big step forward, with his band. Basic instrumentation, guitar, violin, cymbalom, doublebass, percussions, voice, no electronic gadgets or keyboards, simple, but pleasurable indeed. Even "India" is involved. Or the old song from Southern Serbia, re-arranged, but with maestro Boban Markovic on trumpet. Expression is everything, they know how to slow down or lift you up. While Vince had his own bands for ages or collaborated with many local musicians (currently he is a member of Boris Kovac's LaDaABa Orchest), some of his band members performed with Lajko Felix and some also with their own bands. Region of Serbia where they are living, called Vojvodina is part of Panonia, where influences are so mixed, and them, being Gypsies can make something creative out of that. Olah Vince, the Gypsy activist, is not satisfied to live one life, he is helping others, trying to establish Gypsy radio in Novi Sad, but he cannot live without playing music. Are we not all Gypsies? Listen to this music, dance, shout be Gypsy, be free.

CD & digital

10 €

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Ersatz Musika

Songs Unrecantable

Russia

“A disjointed Eastern European answer to Tom Waits"

"One of the most remarkable debut albums of recent years" - BBC Music FRONTED by the achingly melancholic voice of artist and singer Irina Doubrovskaja, and people by a half dozen Soviet émigrés who escaped the turmoil of Russia following the end of Cold War for the artistic communes of East Berlin, ErsatzMusika are the ghost in the machine of 21st century music. Their sound is unique - a rootsy Russian urban folk without insulation and throwing off sparks. Lurking in their condensed, gritty bass and guitar riffs is a pure, unrefined and unruly spirit that's redolent of 1980s Fall, 1970s Jamaican dub, 1930s Berlin cabaret, and Soviet ska-like beats chopped out in the style of the dissident singers of the Soviet era - whose "criminal songs" - vicious vignettes of Soviet realities - were secretly circulated in their millions on cassette. Theirs is not a nostalgia for an old world, however, but a reclamation of its fierce creative underground. The 13 strange and singular tracks on their second album, Songs Unrecantable, is like a hall of mirrors reflecting the psychic landscapes of old Russia back onto the crazy realities of 21st century Mittel-Europa and turning them loose into some of the strangest songs on the planet. From the opening old-world elegance of Song on a Gypsy Air with its exquisitely dry piano melody, through the dread, subterranean beat of Tver, the Neolithic rock n roll of Oy Pterodactyl or the image-drenched tone poetry of Antediluvian, Songs Unrecantable draws you inexorably into a conspiracy of organs, raw guitars, clipped, arcane riffs, jerky dances, haunting vocals, and a vast image bank drawn from past and present, east and west. Their acclaimed 2007 debut, Voice Letter, took its name from the flexidiscs that people would mail across the Soviet Union as musical postcards. The album's songs were sung in Russian, but you didn't need to speak it to feel their power and their soul. Now with Songs Unrecantable the band's jagged, surreal poetry has been rendered into English, mixing cinematic images with surreal voices and dislocated epithets peopled by pterodactyls, pawned clocks, rotting rafters, cactoid skyscrapers, and psylocybine panic. New world orders come and go, and ErsatzMusika are the soundtrack for what's gone and what's to come. Theirs is a reclamation in sound of the old weird Russia on the other side of the mirror, suffused in the gothic tremolo of duelling guitars, subterranean bass, off-kilter dance beats, the sepia-street sound of an accordion that sounds as if it's been filtered through winter fog. With Songs Unrecantable, ErsatzMusika brings you the Russian beat dancing on a chain to the lyrics of Irina Doubrovskaja and others; her melancholic, dispossessed voice wanders like a haunted spirit across a terrain of old borders and broken idols. Normality will never feel the same again.

CD & digital

10 €

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Ersatz Musika

Voice letter

Russia

Musicians from behind the former iron curtain of the USSR, blending western dub with Eastern European folk music.

The 6 Berlin-based musicians of Ersatzmusika spent a large proportion of their lives in the USSR - that mythical and legendary place beyond the iron stage curtain where Gypsies sing of woollen boots, worshippers of Mammon decry broken hearts and glasses sing paeans to lost love. And where, what's more, the troubadour is an outlaw. Several band members have already caused a sensation in the Moscow underground scene. They immigrated to Berlin at the beginning of the nineties and have been enriching the Russian diaspora with various musical projects ever since. The multifaceted artist Irina Doubrovskaja founded ErsatzMusika in 2006, also writing the songs and lyrics for their debut album. Despite the remove from dub, urban folk, world, minimalism and balladeering at which ErsatzMusika stays, the group's music proves strangely familiar to audiences of these musical strains. Yet their music is not an eclectic lucky dip, but rather a collection of acoustic letters in a strange vernacular, a human-made-for-human ersatz for the sounds of information-age intercourse. It goes out with love...

CD & digital

10 €

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Esma Redzepova

Chaje Shukarije

North Macedonia

The powerful voice of The Queen of the Gypsies makes her one of the most popular representatives of Balkan music.

CD only

15 €

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Fanfare Ciocarlia

Cruzando El Campo (single)

Romania

The Gypsy brass music legends of Fanfare Ciocarlia spreads spring fever and heaps of sunshine! Digital only.

While straying through the nearby fields of Fanfare Ciocarlia's home village back in Romania, the giants of brass came up with a jolly tune that invites everyone to dance and welcome the new season.

digital only

1 €

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Fanfare Ciocarlia

Scores Que dolor

Romania

Full score and set of parts (vocal, trumpet 1 & 2 in C, trumpet 3 in C, tenor horn 1 & 2, tuba 1 & 2) transcription by Alexei Turcan song released on the original Fanfare Ciocarlia album "Queens and Kings" 2007

Scores

25 €

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Fanfare Ciocarlia

Queens & Kings

Romania

Recorded across Europe with musicians from the continent’s extended Gypsy community.

Their 5th album. Overcoming borders and visas, foreign tongues and rhythms, more than two dozen musicians from France to Bulgaria came together to create “Queens and Kings”. Casual observers may wonder how Fanfare Ciocarlia’s roaring Balkan funk could possibly fuse with the flamenco guitars of French Gitans Kaloomé or Macedonian legend Esma Redzepova’s accordion driven music? Zece Prajini’s musical magicians shrug off such concerns, noting that they share elements of language, experience, and an almost indescribable yet very Gypsy musical synergy with their guests. Hungarian music has permeated northern Romania for centuries, while Yugoslav and Bulgarian music came from encounters with travelling Gypsy communities or on pirate cassettes. Spain and France existed in pre-war memories, lost yet not forgotten Latin connections; as did jazz and pop flavours long filtered through closed borders. From these sources and their own ancient Gypsy roots, Zece Prajini’s musicians built Fanfare Ciocarlia. Here, accompanied by some of Europe's finest singers, Romania’s brass dervishes share tales of life, love and loss.

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Fanfare Ciocarlia

Scores Asfalt Tango

Romania

Full score and set of parts (saxophone alto, trumpet 1 & 2 in C, tenor horn 1 & 2, tuba 1 & 2)

transcription by Alexei Turcan song released on the original Fanfare Ciocarlia album "Baro Biao" 1999

Scores

25 €

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Fanfare Ciocarlia

Alili

Romania

Balkan - Cumbia Remix: Fanfare Ciocarlia (Romania) vs G-Flux (Mexico)

Vinyl EP only

10 €

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Fanfare Ciocarlia

Gili Garabdi

Romania

Traditional dances and Balkan tunes from Romania and rhythms from Turkey, Bulgaria and North Macedonia are played on horns, trumpets and clarinets.

“We are magicians of music and in Zece Prajini the ancient secrets of Gypsy magic live.” (Ioan Ivancea) When the enslavement of Romania´s Gypsies officially ended in 1864 tens of thousands fled the nation for new horizons. Several thousand landed in the United States, often settling in the black ghettoes of the Southern US states, where they continued to make music. Ioan, Fanfare Ciocarlia´s oldest member and group historian, once answered when asked if jazz was a big influence on the Fanfare, "Who´s to say our cousins who went to the US didn´t help invent jazz?" On Ancient Secrets this matter and other mysteries of Gypsy magic are set forth... Ioan, Fanfare Ciocărlia´s oldest member and group historian, once answered when asked if jazz was a big influence on the Fanfare, "Who´s to say our cousins who went to the US didn´t help invent jazz? " On the new CD "GILI GARABDI" this matter and other mysteries of Gypsy magic are set forth. The CD will be released by Asphalt Tango Records on March 7th 2005. Zece Prajini (literally meaning 'ten fields') is a village of just four hundred souls, surrounded by gentle mountains and dusty tracks. Situated in the East of Romania, it is no more than a stone's throw from the border with the former Soviet republic of Moldavia. This area of Romania is known for its rugged seclusion and the stubborn poetry of its inhabitants. In the evenings, when the winds calm down, the sounds of the fanfare echo from the surrounding slopes. This is the home of the twelve Romany Gypsy musicians who make up the FANFARE CIOCARLIA brass ensemble. The art of playing music has been handed down from generation to generation since time immemorial. There is no sheet music. The instruments, bearing the marks of the previous decades, have lost their shine and gained their own patina. On them FANFARE CIOCARLIA manage to set off a musical firework display, with an unbelievable talent for intricate rhythms and dizzy tempos. Traditional dances from Romania and rhythms from Turkey, Bulgaria and Macedonia are played on horns, trumpets, clarinets and timpani. For each different moment in life there is an appropriate piece: geamparale, sîrba, hora, and if the mood requires, a racy ruseasca at the end.

CD & digital

10 € up to 15 €

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Fanfare Ciocarlia

Onwards to Mars!

Romania

Fanfare Ciocarlia, the world's foremost Gypsy brass band, celebrate their 20th anniversary with another roots music album.

Hailing from a tiny village in north east Romania, Fanfare have gone on to conquer the world's stages with their hugely exciting performances while each Ciocarlia album has topped the European World Music charts, driven DJs crazy and inspired countless imitators. Now, with "Onwards To Mars!", Fanfare Ciocarlia take another giant leap forward: here the band both dig deep into their rural Romanian roots while demonstrating what they have learnt on their travels. Long standing fans will appreciate the band's earthy roots music with two traditional Romanian songs sung by senior member Radulescu Lazar (Un Tzigan Avea O Casa and Trenul Masina Mica) and the very slow Balkan Blues of Doina. Fans will also recognise a new arrangement of Mista Lobaloba, a longtime favourite. Things get intriguing when Fanfare cover Bunica Bate Toba by hugely popular Moldovian Rock band Zdob si Zdub. And they go completely crazy when they invite Romanian Gypsy Blues singer Iulian Canaf to sing the classic Screamin' Jay Hawkins tune, I Put A Spell On You! Another collaboration is Fiesta de Negritos; Fanfare recorded this in Medellín together with Puerto Candelaria, one of Colombia's leading Cumbia bands. Dig the Latin-Balkan groove! There are also seven tunes here by celebrated composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Koby Israelite, four of which he composed specifically for Fanfare.

Vinyl, CD & digital

10 € up to 17 €

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Fanfare Ciocarlia

Balkan Brass Battle

Romania

The two titans of East European Gypsy music go head to head in brass battlee of epic proportions.

Finally, the two titans of East European Gypsy music go head to head in a Balkan brass encounter of epic proportions. Following the tradition of brass battles from Serbia's legendary Guca Brass Festival to New Orleans' mean streets, the Balkan Brass Battle showcases the wit, passion and musical genius of Europe's Romany Gypsy people. In the left corner: Fanfare Ciocărlia, the Romanian rockers who rose from rural obscurity to international fame as one of the world's most explosive live bands. Their fierce groove helped fuel a global beats revolution: Fanfare Ciocărlia tearing the roof off the sucka night after night! In the right corner: Serbian trumpet legend Boban Marković & Orkestar - survivors of the Yugoslav civil war, Guca Festival's greatest champions, immortalized in Emir Kusturica's maverick films, Boban's Orkestar now feature young gun Marko Marković, the fastest trumpet in town! The Balkan Brass Battle CD was recorded across a feverish, sleepless forty-eight hours in a Transylvanian hotel right outside Graf Dracula, the castle of Vlad Tepes. Both bands laid down their hottest grooves then shaped up for a battle royal in the studio. Your ears won't believe these Gypsy mavericks turbo charged takes on Duke Ellington's 'Caravan' and John Barry's 'James Bond Theme'. Also recorded were Balkan folk tunes, original compositions and a surreal take on 'Gummy Bear' from the McDonalds' Kids Menu.

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Fanfare Ciocarlia

Best Of Gypsy Brass

Romania

The Romanian speed brass legends sum up thirteen years and five albums of musical history.

Since being discovered on Womex 1997 in Marseilles the winner of the BBC World Music Award from Zece Prajini realeased five highly acclaimed CDs - "Radio Pascani" (1998), "Baro Biao" (1999) and "Iag Bari" (2001) were released on much respected Piranha Records, "Gili Garabdi" (2005) as well as "Queens & Kings" (2007) are two Asphalt Tango Records. As soon as the 11 Allstars of Gypsy Brass enter a stage - be it in Tokyo, Moscow, Melbourne, Helsinki, London or Berlin - and set off their dazzling musical fireworks one can notice the audience going through astounding changes: entire rows of seats are spontaneously shifted aside, hats and skirts whirl through the air and even the stiffest guy finds himself dancing away to the most tricky Balkan rhythms so easily. With their 6th CD-release the Gypsy brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia gives an exquisite taste of the incomparable experience of seeing Romania's musical export hit live on stage. The one-hour-long live recording of a concert in the "Kesselhaus der Kulturbrauerei" in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg will not only delight devoted fans.

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Fanfare Ciocarlia

20 Years

Romania

Double vinyl album set covering the Romanian band’s remarkable two decade career.

Double vinyl album set covering the Romanian brass band’s remarkable two decade career. First time on vinyl for these seminal Balkan brass recordings! “20” is a double album release that gathers on vinyl for the very first time Fanfare Ciocarlia’s seminal recordings. This collection ranges from the band’s debut album Radio Pasçani onwards, gathering recordings that have broken Balkan brass through to a huge international audience and ensured that Fanfare are Romania’s foremost musical export. Fanfare Ciocarlia’s recording career began at the height of the CD era and, at that time, vinyl was no longer being pressed in Romania. Their most recent albums on Berlin label Asphalt Tango have been issued on vinyl but fans have constantly requested the band's early albums also appear on vinyl. What to do? The band decided they would celebrate twenty years of international success by compiling a double album collection that draws heavily on their first five albums and demonstrates their myriad musical strengths. Across four themed sides – ROOTS, ORIENT, JAMS, AMIGOS - “20” offers a reflection of the many musical faces of Fanfare. ROOTS captures them as a village brass band. ORIENT gathers their most Eastern recordings. JAMS features their funkiest sides that make clubs jump. AMIGOS demonstrates Fanfare’s wide ranging collaborations, from backing Macedonia’s Gypsy Queen Esma Redzepova to rocking with Canadian guitarist Adrian Raso. Pressed on 180g vinyl and beautifully packaged with illustrious photos covering Fanfare’s entire career, “20” is a double vinyl treat for both collector and the general music fan.

digital only

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Fanfare Ciocarlia

Live

Romania

An taste of the incomparable experience of seeing Romania's musical export live on stage.

As soon as the 11 Allstars of Gypsy Brass enter a stage - be it in Tokyo, Moscow, Melbourne, Helsinki, London or Berlin - and set off their dazzling musical fireworks one can notice the audience going through astounding changes: entire rows of seats are spontaneously shifted aside, hats and skirts whirl through the air and even the stiffest guy finds himself dancing away to the most tricky Balkan rhythms so easily. With their 6th CD-release the Gypsy brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia gives an exquisite taste of the incomparable experience of seeing Romania's musical export hit live on stage. The one-hour-long live recording of a concert in the "Kesselhaus der Kulturbrauerei" in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg will not only delight devoted fans. As a bonus the DVD "Gypsy Brass Legends - The Story of the Band" released on Asphalt Tango Records back in 2004 is also included. Amongst others the DVD contains the acclaimed movie "Iag Bari - Brass on Fire" and gives an insight into the life in and the music of Zece Prajini, meanwhile famous hometown to Fanfare Ciocarlia.

released September 25, 2009

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Gabi Lunca

Sounds from a bygone Age Vol. 5

Romania

Recordings from the former Romanian comunist state record label, featuring Gypsy singer Gabi Lunca.

Visitors to Bucharest in the grey 1980s could witness two different worlds: Official state folklore with songs of the golden era proclaimed by Ceausescu and lively suburban music (muzica de mahala), which at that time was played at private parties. Gabi Luncă also spent many years singing at weddings, and although from the beginning of the 1990s her only performances were in Pentecostal churches, her voice remains unforgotten in Romania. Her songs are the quiet, melancholic songs of passion and yearning for one's home, mother, or sweetheart; songs to lift the weight from one's soul. Included among Gabi Luncă's greatest hits are: "Omul Bun n-are noroc" (The good have no luck) and "Superata sint pe lume" (I am sad in this world). Gabi Luncă's silvery, lightly strained singing was often copied, but never equalled, although as the accordion player Victor Gore remembers, she "always sang slightly out of time". Alongside Romica Puceanu, Gabi Luncă was the most valued performer of Romanian muzica lautareasca. Yet unlike her sensuous and hard-drinking rival, Gabi Luncă's life, partly because of the four children she had with the accordion player Ion Onoriu, was spent in familiar seclusion and without excess. Not only for this reason, but also because of her carefully selected stage clothes and her great professionalism, she was also referred to as the Tziganca de matase, the silken Gypsy woman. Gabi Luncă played with Aurel and Victor Gore's taraf until her marriage to Ion Onoriu. Later she worked with the trumpeter Costel Vasilescu, the tzimbal god Toni Iordache and other big names from the Bucharest Lautari scene in the state-owned Electrecord studio. In the final years of the Ceausescu regime her urbane repertoire was only played on the radio early in the morning. Back then her real fans would set their watches by the radio programme and at five o'clock, before they left for the factory, they would listen to the sparkling voice of this singer with a mug of cold Nescafé. Gabi Luncă comes from Varbilau, a village in the Prahova valley, where restaurant owners from Ploiesti or from the Black Sea are happy to hire musicians up to today. Over the course of a career which began with folk songs, Gabi Luncă has successfully stylized herself as the Grand Dame of Lautari music. There is a children's home next to her estate in Bucharest's Tei quarter, financed by the Pentecostal community. Gabi Luncă had first-hand experience of privation. Born in 1938, and motherless from the age of three, she grew up as one of violinist Dumitru Luncă's 12 children and has not forgotten these early years on the margins of society. Luckily there was the radio - and on it were played the songs of her great icon Maria Lataretu, who she was to meet in a radio studio on her first trip to Bucharest. In the mid-fifties Gabi Luncă took part in one of the many regional amateur musical contests held at the time. Following 49 competitors the very young singer was the last on the stage, wearing a dark skirt and white blouse. She sang with a power and virtuosity which brought her thunderous applause as well as the winner's certificate. The slim country girl, with her cotton socks full of holes and wearing shoes that were far too big for her, then went along and introduced herself at Romanian broadcasting corporation in the capital. Shortly after this the 18-year old singer was called up by the renowned orchestra leader Ionel Budisteanu, who wanted to record several songs from the suburbs with Gabi Luncă as soloist. The first record, her first money, and then a few years back in the country before Gabi Luncă, following an unhappy marriage, finally moved to Bucharest and married the accordion player Ion Onoriu at the age of 26. Ion Onoriu comes from Fantanele, a village near Bucharest. With him she was able to perform regularly in garden cafés, appeared on radio and television (being an attractive woman she appeared there more frequently than any other Lautari singer) and also played at Romanians and Gypsies' private parties at weekends. Musicians such as Luncă earned more money in one evening than a factory worker in a whole month. The singer only just escaped death during an earthquake in March 1977. She should actually have been singing that evening in the local cultural centre in the town of Zimnicea, but because the band leader Ion Onoriu found the venue too small, the tour caravan (including the tzimbal player Toni Iordache among others) turned straight around and went on to Slatina, Zimnicea was wiped off the map and completely destroyed that evening. From the beginning of the 1990s Gabi Luncă has only sung at the services of the Bucharest Pentecostal community. The wedding business became an exhausting duty for her husband following the revolution. She herself had no interest in competing with the scantily clad new stars of the nascent manele music. All of these provided the motives for her withdrawal from the secular music business. "We stopped when we achieved terrific success, but we did it out of respect for our music". Gabi Luncă, the diva of the Lautari scene, will turn 70 this year, time for a rediscovery through recordings from the Bucharest archives.

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Ion Petre Stoican

Sounds from a bygone Age Vol. 1

Romania

Recordings from the former Romanian comunist state record label, featuring Ion Petre Stoican.

"This story took place before 1965. One day Stoican noticed a man who seemed to him to be behaving suspiciously. This stranger turned out to be a foreign spy. Stoican grabbed him and took him to the nearest police station. The secret police then asked what he would like as a reward. 'Should we give you a house?' - 'I don't need a house,' Stoican replied, 'I want to make a record.'" (Quote COSTEL VASILESCU, Bukarest 2005) On the only long-playing record by the Romanian violinist Ion Petre Stoican the most important Gypsy musicians from the Bucharest Lautari scene were united in an All-star band and through a bizarre stroke of luck created one of the most atmospheric records of the time. Most of the pieces played came from Constanta and from Stoican's birthplace Oltenita, and are primarily fast rhythmic dances such as Hora, Briu, Sirba or Geamparale, which no wedding could do without. Recovered from the archives of Electrecord and out on CD now: Romanian traditional music in original analog sound recorded in the 1970s! "Our names were not mentioned, but Stoican still managed to get our photo on the album", recalls Costel Vasilescu, whose bright trumpet tone made him a legend throughout Romania. But the names of the musicians are only rarely to be found on the records released during the Ceausescu period - even Vasilescu is not mentioned on recordings made by Gabi Lunca or Romica Puceanu - Rumania's Gypsy Queens - who regularly called him into the studio at that time. The term "People's Orchestra" is used to describe the musicians on Ion Petre Stoican's only LP released in 1977. Costel Vasilescu lives in a town house, that was luckily not torn down in the demolition fever of the 1980s. The heavy furniture, dark silk and crystal chandeliers in the living room are less status symbols than a sign of the time when Vasilescu played at four weddings a week. His memories are palpable and the photographs of celebrations or concerts are carefully stored in thick photo albums. The only photograph Costel Vasilescu cannot find is one of Ion Petre Stoican, the violinist from Constanta. And yet this man through a spectacular piece of luck created one of the most atmospheric records in the history of the Lautari. Accompanied by the tzimbal god Toni Iordache, the accordion dervish Ionica Minune and Costel Vasilescu on the trumpet: "This story took place before 1965 during the regime of Gheorghiu Dej. Ion Petre Stoican caught a long sought-after spy. At the time Stoican was living at the coast and played in restaurants and at weddings, he was reasonably successful - but in Bucharest he was relatively unknown. One day he noticed a man who seemed to him to be behaving suspiciously. This stranger turned out to be a foreign spy, who was trying to hide a parcel full of dollar bills and a letter. Stoican grabbed him and took him to the nearest police station. They had been looking for this man for a long time and were very pleased about this unexpected catch. The secret police asked Stoican what he would like as a reward. 'Should we give you a house?' - 'I don't need a house,' Stoican replied, 'I want to make a record." And in 1966 the monopolist Romanian publishing house Electrecord released the first four-track Stoican album. That in itself was a sensation, because Ion Petre Stoican, who was born in 1930 in the small town of Oltenita, was related to the exceptional violinist Ion Nomol, but he was not famous like Toni Iordache or Romica Puceanu. He came to Bucharest as a young man and played the full repertoire of standards that was typical for weddings. With all the ritual dances and songs, from dressing the bride (Ia-ti mireasa, ziua buna) right up to the "Dance of the witnesses". Then he left the scene for the port town of Constanta for almost 15 years; business on the coast was more lucrative for the violinist from the province, because the claims in Bucharest had already been staked by the old-established Lautari families. Following the death of his wife, Ion Petre Stoican returned to Bucharest in the mid-seventies. He then took his spy story back to the authorities, building up a huge dossier and besieging the officials until he was given the green light for an LP. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Stoican wanted to play with the most adventurous musicians in Romania, as the record was to be his breakthrough. He wasn't a virtuoso violinist of the stature of Aurel Gore, but he was ambitious enough to form an all-star band for his first album. "And then he came to me and asked me if I could help him to realise his vision", Costel Vasilescu reports. Vasilescu, who is a great diplomat and judge of human nature, at first said he would "see what can be done." He accompanied Stoican to the No. 1 tzimbal player in Romania, Toni Iordache, who held court in the "Boulevard" restaurant and waited for engagements while drinking Turkish coffee. Of course Toni Iordache couldn't say yes straightaway, because he was an international star, and Stoican in his eyes was a second-class musician from the country, Costel Vasilescu explains. But Vasilescu didn't let up, promised rehearsals, and at the end of the day "Toni finally agreed, because Stoican had this permission from on high, and who could refuse that... and on top of that Electrecord had to do what Stoican wanted. This had never happened before! And so a Lautari orchestra met in Tomis Studio at Electrecord, which unfortunately never came together again to record. Most of the songs came from Constanta and from Stoican's birthplace Oltenita, and are primarily fast rhythmic dances such as Hora, Briu, Sîrba or Geamparale, which no wedding could do without. Stoican cultivated the traditional style he inherited from his father. And he sang falsetto, which was en vogue in Bucharest at the time, and which the singer Dona Dumitru Siminica had made so famous, that he appeared in a Bregovic soundtrack at the beginning of the nineties. Toni Iordache, who is not in the centre of the group photograph for nothing, arranged most of the tracks and plays Lautari music with the attitude and freedom of a jazz musician. Iordache is the only musician besides Stoican to be mentioned by name on the album: his condition for turning up to the recordings. 14 musicians made Stoican's studio band far bigger than a normal taraf, which normally played at a wedding with five or six musicians. When recording, the violinist kept in touch with the spirit of the time, which in the seventies and eighties only promoted People's orchestras pushing the rougher but more authentic sound of the tarafs out to the suburbs. However for Ion Petre Stoican his first and last LP established him in the bitterly defended Bucharest wedding market. The man from the province had fulfilled his dream and played until the end of the eighties at innumerable weddings. And Costel Vasilescu regrets: "I sadly could not say goodbye to Stoican, because he died shortly after the revolution while we were playing a few concerts in Vienna. But all of our collaborations from then are on this CD and they live on."

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Jaakko Laitinen

Näennäinen

Finland

Vinyl & CD

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Jaro Milko & The Cubalkanics

Cigarros Explosivos

Switzerland

Where the rhythm of the cumbia, the sound of Cuba and Balkan music all come together.

There’s a point where the rhythm of the cumbia, the sound of Cuba and Balkan music all come together. And it’s right in the heart of the Jaro Milko and the Cubalkanics. It’s a place without borders, wild and wonderful; it’s Milko’s creation, where surf guitar, Cuban son and the powerful hit of Gypsy brass dance side by side. The five-piece Swiss band fuse his vision into a unique, delicious whole on their debut Cigarros Explosivos! (released March 28th, 2014 on Ashpalt Tango). Jaro Milko first put the Cubalkanics together four years ago, his own guitar along with organ, drums, percussion and trombone. “I was thinking of the people more than the instruments when I set the lineup,” he explains. “I knew I wanted a band with a different sound, and we don’t have a bass player.” But in trombonist Luke Briggen he has a secret weapon. “He actually plays some of the basslines. He has a pedal that lowers the notes by an octave. To me it sounds just like Balkan brass and that’s what I want.” With Eric Gilson’s organ picking up the rest of the bottom end, “which is very ‘60s,” they were set.

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Kal

Kal

Serbia

Rock'n'roll in attitude, fuelled on urban Gypsy beats and rooted in the Balkan blues.

Kal are the hottest Gypsy band from the suburbs of Belgrad, rock'n'roll in attitude, fuelled on urban beats and rooted in the Balkan blues. In their wit, imagination and ability to throw disparate sounds together they mark themselves as both part of Balkan Gypsy tradition and 21st Century lifestyle. Recorded on a bare bones budget at Dragan's ramshackle home studio this brilliant, intuitive album shifts Gypsy soul into cyberspace. To be a 21st Century Gypsy in Serbia involves navigating a potentially explosive cultural and social minefield. Currently no one acts as a more forthright guide through this mess of history, myths, traditions, prejudice and community pride than Belgrade's Kal. Kal are a young band, rock'n'roll in attitude, fuelled on dance beats and rooted in the Balkan blues. In their wit, imagination, ability to throw disparate sounds together and refusal to play by "folkloric" rules Kal mark themselves as both part of Balkan Gypsy tradition and 21st Century Roma cultural activists. The identity Kal carry forward is racially proud yet ethnically inclusive, forward looking while embracing the treasure of the last thousand years of lungo drom (long road), a culture determined to operate as equals in the ever evolving Nu-Europe we all share. While our post-modern, polyglot times may find employing terms like "commitment" and "mission" unfashionable Kal are a band who aim to make a difference. Kal ­ the word is Romani for "black" ­ were formed by the Ristic brothers, Dushan and Dragan, to confront the prejudices and clichés the Roma face. Dragan, a theatre producer who has set up Romani theatre groups in Budapest and Belgrade, and Dushan, a painter, aimed to use Kal to blend influences from traditional Balkan Gypsy music with the contemporary music they heard whilst living in Belgrade and Budapest. The Ristics grew up in Central Serbia, sons of Sreten Ristic, a school teacher ("our father was the first openly Roma teacher to graduate from teachers college") who also played music: this album is dedicated to Sreten. Their parents benefited from President Tito's efforts to include the Roma more in Yugoslav society and they encouraged Dragan and Dusan to take pride in their heritage while getting an education. This they continue: every summer they lead the Amala Summer School (

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Kal

Radio Romanista

Serbia

Debut album from the pioneering Gypsy brass legends "a type of ecstatic, hyper, adrenaline-fueled gypsy music.

Almost three years on from Kal's ground-breaking debut album band leader Dragan Ristic appears both weary and excited about the forthcoming release of Radio Romanista. Relaxing in the shadows of a downtown Belgrade bar, Ristic admits the last few years have been hectic ones. "We went from being this tiny Belgrade band, not even really known in our home town, to touring Europe and the US, hearing DJs blast our music in clubs, playing festivals, meeting all kinds of people, getting to spread the word and music of the Rom." Kal's success on the world music circuit has been matched by fame in Serbia, something Ristic views as a double edged sword. "Kal's rise has lead to so many demands: being an educated Rom in Serbia means I get called upon all the time to speak for my people. I don't shy away from this but when you are asked to represent a minority who are marginalised, persecuted, often denied access to education or employment, then the position carries extra weight." Yet Ristic is proud that Kal's sound - rooted in the lyrical, adventurous style of the late, great Serb Gypsy soul icon Saban Bajramovic - is leading to many young musicians looking back to their roots. "In Serbia most of the young Gypsy musicians are playing pop-folk trash behind some bimbo or himbo whose entire career is built on looking sexy in a video. They're losing their culture, what fathers taught sons for generations. With Kal's success - and in Serbia we're blowing up, attracting kids who like rock and techno alongside an older generation who appreciate traditional music, selling official CDs in a market overrun by pirates - we're proving the music of your ancestors is still valid, still lives." For Kal's debut Dragan drew upon a pool of Belgrade Roma musicians and singers, including several striking female vocalists. For this album he relied upon the musicians who now compromise Kal's touring band. "What you get here is our live sound. We spend a lot of time touring and when we're back home we're playing clubs along the Danube, bars that put on live music. This has really shaped our sound, it's rock'n'roma! I strongly believe this album leads a new wave of Gypsy music. All of my life I have been acting like the bridge between two different cultures, Romani and non-Romani. I strongly feel my Gypsy identity while understanding I live in a world of mass communication, globalization, where everything should be considered as a media message, even emotions."

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10 €

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Koby Israelite

Blues from Elsewhere

UK

American folk meets the Eastern Europe, from hard to catagorise Israeli-born London music producer.

It is true to say that nothing comes from nothing and something always comes from something. With this as a working philosophy, Koby has skillfully made connections between the american folk music of Blues, Bluegrass and country'n'western and then balanced them with the other immigrant sounds of eastern european and balkan melodies. Bringing out the Eastern European and Balkan elements and raising them upon the saddle of american rock, blues and folk. As a multi-instrumentalist his skill and virtuosity expresses itself throughout. At times effervescent, at other times reflective but always expressive. What remains is his signature style, where the accordion (dubbed as the new guitar) swings and sways with all the bewilderment of the circus, taking the listener through a gypsy fair set in the mid-west, travelling from town to town, city to state. The mix of styles conjure up a motley crew of blues musicians, Klezmoriim and balkaneers on a road trip across America. This wave of delirium, staggers and sways the listener, keeping them on the edge of their seat and the very borders of the genres, where one style meets another. Whether as an ode to Johnny Cash, a nod to the skiffle bands, the vocal trios and quartets of 1950's or the hazy dreaminess of Led Zeppelin in his tribute to Kashmir, Koby brings these diverse elements together and balances them in this, his latest release. The composition's in the “blues from elsewhere” suite are connected through modern american rock but given an eastern slavic temperament. From the italian mandolin's of “Crayfish Hora” to slide guitar of “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. It is the powerful and adept voice of Annique that steps in to add a sweet, smoky tinged powerful rock edged soul and bring the American element up to date with a vocal power, versatility and range worthy of the rock and roll halls of fame.

Vinyl, CD & digital

10 €

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Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs

Opa Hey!

Bulgaria

Debut album from the Bulgarian digital master, Balkan field recordings meets jazz and electronica.

Kottarashky is a 21st century digital master musician with his hands sunk deep in the past - vintage Balkan field recordings, classic jazz and blues, psychedelic sounds, club beats and extraordinary, archetypal Gypsy voices, guttural shouts and lyrical laments are all molded and thrown into new shapes. The songs of his debut album "Opa Hey!" sound like tales told by a people who have all the time in the world: time to contemplate, enjoy, engage and dream; to take pleasure in unexpected twists and turns; to be inspired by the details and vividness of marginal existence. Kottarashky is an architect by vocation, which perhaps explains the palpable sense of place in his music. Summer trips to small villages and the marginal regions of Bulgaria were key source of inspiration for the album, and his music samples a broad palette of sources and influences - enigmatic field recordings by artists unknown alongside Boris Kovac, Les Yeux Noir, Fanfare Ciocarlia, Jony Iliev and compelling Hungarian singer Mitsou. The resulting digital pick-and-mix hits you like a panoramic puzzle of sounds collected and put together from a night's walk through the streets of Sofia. It is an ethno-music born of a city lacking cultural identity that is torn between contemporary European globalism, Balkan provincialism and a living if largely forgotten folk tradition. It's a music inspired by that environment but also in reaction to it, a journey down roads less travelled, through the Bulgarian backwoods and back via the laptop to the 21st century.

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Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs

Gyuro (single)

Bulgaria

Kottarashky aka Nikola Gruev opened the door to hitherto undiscovered spaces of Balkan music with his first album "Opa Hey!" in 2009. His approach of using a collection of sounds taken from authentic field recordings is quite similar to artists like Amon Tobin, the only difference being that Gruev found and recorded his sources in the Bulgarian countryside. Combining these, he initiated a tribal digital dance music that went far beyond either the mash up culture of contemporary global producers or the art collages of modern sound architects. He simply amazed with compositions that are extremely complexly woven, yet at the same time catchy, and full of joy or melancholy. At the time however, Kottarashky was unknown, even within his local scene in Bulgaria. It was all the more unbelievable that this dude, who was actually a full-time architect, was producing outstanding tunes and unique rhythms such as these in his back office that were completely unconnected with any popular scenes.

digital only

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Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs

Cats, Dogs and Ghosts

Bulgaria

The bands 3rd album, taking us deep into a New York district called Sofia.

After his groundbreaking album "Opa Hey!" and the raw and groovy "Demoni", Kottarashky is back with album number three, this time taking us deep into a New York district called Sofia and introducing us to its street corners brimming with rock, blues, Balkan-style funk and the jazz-flavoured rhythms of late summer. On this new album, The Rain Dogs are much more than just the back-up band of a lone sonic wizard. The crew now comprises some of the most sought-after musicians drawn from the contemporary Bulgarian scene. And they didn’t leave anything to chance when they gathered at Blubalu Studio in Sofia to record their version of a genuine Balkan-American street sound. On the way into the studio, they picked up an authentic Sofia beat poet named Nufry (i.a. Panican Whyasker), a singer, songwriter and icon of the Bulgarian independent scene whose stories truly enrich the Dogs. Indeed, Nufry’s haunting vocals lend The Rain Dogs additional depth and magnitude; they revel, waft, break out and move in tandem with the horn sections and raw guitar chords in a sonic space somewhere between the American South and the Black Sea. The fruits of their work are songs such as "This Little Devil", which features lyrics about relationship woes with some help from ballet and beer. "The Winner, the Driver" even recalls the trippy funk rock of bands like Soul Coughing. At first, "Cats, Dogs and Ghosts" sounds as if the band has set out on the road to rock ‘n’ roll. But then Kottarashky sets the pace with those tight groove collages and Balkan samples we’re familiar with from "Opa Hey!". And it’s precisely that crazy Kottarashky boogie that allows the band to capture and revel in the originality of those Balkan street fairs and festivals. It’s as if Kottarashky fills his line-up of guitar, bass and drums with village musicians drawn from his archive and thus effortlessly brings life to those concrete, big-city residential blocks. Kottarashky was never Balkan Beats, but now he is one of the enduring protagonists of the last decade of Balkan music. To be sure, together with his Rain Dogs, he shows us why we should never stop listening to the sounds emanating from the Balkan region.

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Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs

Demoni

Bulgaria

From Bulgaria, unique sound sketches within a new universe of advanced Balkan Funk and Blues.

Kottarashky aka Nikola Gruev opened the door to hitherto undiscovered spaces of Balkan music with his first album "Opa Hey!" in 2009. His approach of using a collection of sounds taken from authentic field recordings is quite similar to artists like AMON TOBIN, the only difference being that Gruev found and recorded his sources in the Bulgarian countryside. Combining these, he initiated a tribal digital dance music that went far beyond either the mash up culture of contemporary global producers or the art collages of modern sound architects. He simply amazed with compositions that are extremely complexly woven, yet at the same time catchy, and full of joy or melancholy. At the time however, Kottarashky was unknown, even within his local scene in Bulgaria. It was all the more unbelievable that this dude, who was actually a full-time architect, was producing outstanding tunes and unique rhythms such as these in his back office that were completely unconnected with any popular scenes. On 'Demoni' Kottarashky takes his unique sound sketches one step further and transforms them into a live experience. Together with accomplished musical companions Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs guide you into a new universe of advanced Balkan Funk and Blues. This coincided with a general trend in Sofia of creativity moving into the private sphere. It seems to have been a reflex to the current situation in Bulgaria today, where a group of neo-feudalists have consolidated their positions and their profits, at the same time however, maneuvering the scene in the country into torpor and oppressing all criticism through their domination of the media market. It is a situation where the mainstream outweighs everything else, yet this absence of diversified cultural channels has provided wide-ranging mental free space for the creative. It is clearly this environment that stimulates Kottarashky's innovative and profound style.

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La Cherga

Revolve

Croatia

A patchwork of style spanning; dub, Balkan brass, jazz, drum 'n' bass, and soul, laced with a dash of pop.

La Cherga's sound, frequently referred to as a patchwork, a style mix spanning dub, Balkan brass, jazz, drum 'n' bass and electronic, is broadened on "Revolve" to include funk and soul, laced with a dash of pop. Adisa Zvekic from Bosnia, La Cherga's new high-powered frontwoman, is using her extraordinary voice to lead the band into a new era. As its title implies, the album deals with transformations, renewals, it also really does have a little to do with the continuation of the band's own revolt against prevalent stereotypes. The grooving mixture of Eastern European jazz tradition, Jamaican and British dub rhythms, the loop-like arrangements of the Macedonian wind section and powerful, pop-friendly soul vocals - this is La Cherga! At the same time they are not afraid to stir up these seemingly calm waters with in-your-face guitar riffs and driving drum 'n' bass breaks. Always rooted in their home countries of Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Jamaica, La Cherga remain true to themselves and continue to swim against the tide. Every note highlights their own individual interpretation of a post-pessimistic future on the international stage.

Vinyl, CD & Download

10 €

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La Cherga

Fake No More

Croatia

Ripe and tasty as stuffed peppers, 21st Century electro-roots music with a pan-Balkanic consciousness.

Ripe, bright and tasty as stuffed peppers, LA CHERGA create 21st Century electro-roots music with a pan-Balkanic consciousness! Together with the bands infectious debut album "Fake No More!" Asphalt Tango Records launch a special selection of 4 exclusive tracks available on vinyl only - remixed by DJ Click and LA CHERGA mastermind Nevenko Bucan. Musicians Irina Karamarkovic - vocals, Nevenko Bucan - programming & electronics, Muamer Gazibegovic - guitar, Trajko Velkov - trumpet & flugelhorn, Kiril Kuzmanov - alto & sopran saxophone, Nino Skiljic - bass, programming & keyboards

Vinyl, CD & digital

10 €

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Mahala Rai Banda

Balkan Reggae

Romania

Dub Mixes of the Gypsy bands music. The first album where Gypsy music meets the Dreads uptown.

Since the early-1960s Jamaican music has rocked the world: Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, Dub, Dancehall having established internationally that beautiful, troubled island as a leader in musical innovation and good grooves. The fall of the Berlin Wall found Romania's Gypsy musicians making a similar impression on the West with their ancient string bands and furious brass bands creating a groove like no other. The funkiest of all Romanian bands are Mahala Rai Banda. This Bucharest-based band have mixed Funk and Latin flavours into furious brass groove and torn up stages across the world. In 2009, on their acclaimed album "Ghetto Blasters", Mahala Rai Banda cut "Balkan Reggae", a lovely, swinging instrumental that showed how Eastern cymbaloms, violins, accordions and trumpets could embrace a very Caribbean flavour. Reggae in Romania? Few imagined that the Jamaican sound could penetrate so far East or that a Gypsy band could play it with such feel. Yet everyone who heard Balkan Reggae loved it and Reggae DJs across Europe began dropping the tune in their sets. As 2012 signaled the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's independence Mahala Rai Banda reached out to their Jamaican brethren and requested Dub remixes on Balkan Reggae. The response was strong. Leading the charge was Mad Professor - the legendary, London-based Jamaican producer who has gone toe-to-toe with Lee Perry and Massive Attack amongst many others - followed by Nick Manasseh (feat. dread DJ Gregory Fabulous), Jstar, G-Vibes (feat. acclaimed Brixton Blues man Errol Linton), Vibronics, Kanka and Asphalt Tango artists La Cherga and Koby Israelite. "Balkan Reggae" - The Dub Mixes is the first ever album where Balkan Gypsy music meets the Dreads uptown! As they like to shout over a hot mix in Trenchtown: "Irie!"

CD & digital

10 €

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Mahala Rai Banda

Ghetto Blasters

Romania

Balkan music tradition, oriental Gypsy pop, Catalan rumba, reggae and even Romanian manele.

In Romania, the most famous and the most gifted musicians live in two towns. In Clejani, just south-west of Bucharest, the violonists, cymbalists, double bass players and other accordion players notably formed the extraordinary Taraf de Haïdouks. In Zece Prajini, north-east of the capital in Moldavia, you can find the greatest density of wind players per square meter, including the brass players of the famous Fanfare Ciocarlia. It is in these two lost villages, in the dust, the mud or the ice, according to the season, that you find the crème de la crème, the kings of the schmekers*, the instrumentalists who are half-genius, half-rascal, capable of stirring up a wedding party with a single solo launched at supersonic speed. Knowing this, how do you find THE great Gypsy group, a sort of Balkan equivalent of the Memphis Horns with the rhythm section from Muscle Shoals, these two being the gold standard of soul music, combining power and finesse, groove and virtuosity ? It's easy, just bring together the musicians from Clejani and of Zece Prajini! This is the magic equation, the stroke of genius, which guarantees you an orchestra - a taraf - which is hot as coals and led by the violonist Ionica Aurel. And to add salt to this mixture, invite guest singers such Sorin Constantin, Jony Iliev and Dan Armeanca, the king of the manea, forerunner of what was to become the manele, the Romanian pop of the 21st century. The Mahala Raï Banda, supergroup of Roma pop. Appearing at first straightforward, combining the musicians from Clejani and Zece Prajini nevertheless proved to be a lot more complex. A good ensemble is not put together as easily as a martingale in bingo. There is first of all a history of encounters and of never-ending balls spent in Bucharest's wedding bands. According to the tastes and the budget of the future spouses, Roma or gadjés, according to the affinities and the complementarity of the musicians, the lautari reach the big city and form and dissolve tarafs with a variable geometry capable of playing everything : traditional Romanian music, the Gypsy repertoire of the last century, manele or vertiginous adaptations of Abba or Madonna.

CD & digital

10 € up to 12 €

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Mahala Rai Banda

Balkan Reggae Jstar Remix (single)

Romania

Dub Mix by Jstar of Mahala Rai Banda's chart striker "Balkan Reggae"

digital

1 €

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Mahala Rai Banda

Rai Baro (single)

Romania

Balkan funk from Romania's Gypsy boygroup Mahala Rai Banda

digital only

1 €

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Motion Trio

Playstation

Poland

Sound collages somewhere between Eastern European classis, jazz and disco from the innovative Polish trio.

The innovative Polish accordion trio founded in 1996 has managed to change the face of their instrument, the accordion, already. Six hands create timbres that really catch and even more surprise. Most of the music played by this 'Trio Infernal' so masterly is written by Janusz Wojtarowicz. The vanguard sound collages range somewhere between minimal music, jazz and disco polo - and meet the Notion of Motion: to redefine the accordion and explore soundscapes far beyond what has been experienced and associated with this instrument to date. On their album "Play-Station" the three musicians from Cracow concentrate their efforts on reclaiming sounds from the digital world. Six hands pick up electrically generated notes and turn them into acoustic anthems on their instrument of choice: the accordion. All of a sudden a "playstation" offers more than 100 buttons! Motion Trio"Motion Trio". This innovative Polish accordion trio founded in 1996 has managed to change the face of their instrument, the accordion, already. Six hands create timbres that really catch and even more surprise. Most of the music played by this 'Trio Infernal' so masterly is written by Janusz Wojtarowicz. The vanguard sound collages range somewhere between minimal music, jazz and rock and meet the Notion of Motion: to redefine the accordion and explore soundscapes far beyond what one associates and experienced with this instrument so far. The three energetic musicians do this on a strictly acoustic basis, neither samplers nor additional effects are part of their concept.

CD & Digital

10 €

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Motion Trio

Pictures from the Street

Poland

Redefining  the accordion, exploring soundscapes far beyond what one associates with this instrument.

The innovative Polish accordion trio founded in 1996 has managed to change the face of their instrument, the accordion, already. Six hands create timbres that really catch and even more surprise. Most of the music played by this 'Trio Infernal' so masterly is written by Janusz Wojtarowicz. The vanguard sound collages range somewhere between minimal music, jazz and disco polo - and meet the Notion of Motion: to redefine the accordion and explore soundscapes far beyond what has been experienced and associated with this instrument to date. On their album "Play-Station" the three musicians from Cracow concentrate their efforts on reclaiming sounds from the digital world. Six hands pick up electrically generated notes and turn them into acoustic anthems on their instrument of choice: the accordion. All of a sudden a "playstation" offers more than 100 buttons! Motion Trio"Motion Trio". This innovative Polish accordion trio founded in 1996 has managed to change the face of their instrument, the accordion, already. Six hands create timbres that really catch and even more surprise. Most of the music played by this 'Trio Infernal' so masterly is written by Janusz Wojtarowicz. The vanguard sound collages range somewhere between minimal music, jazz and rock and meet the Notion of Motion: to redefine the accordion and explore soundscapes far beyond what one associates and experienced with this instrument so far. The three energetic musicians do this on a strictly acoustic basis, neither samplers nor additional effects are part of their concept.

CD & digital

10 €

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Oana Catalina Chitu

Divine

Romania

Reminiscent of times long past, when Romanias bohemians and Eastern European intellectuals met in Bucharest′s salons.

Maria Tănase is loved in Romania like no singer that has followed her. Even before the Second World War she performed folk songs, tangos, romances, couplets and căntece de mahala, music from the suburbs, in restaurants, in revue theatres and on the radio, usually accompanied by Roma musicians, the lăutari. Tănase developed her own expressive way of interpretation, making songs of every origin her own. Then the iron curtain fell between Eastern and Western Europe. Maria Tănase was increasingly forgotten in Romania throughout the 1960s, because her dramatic doinas or the oriental-sounding songs from the mahala did not fit into the limited concept of man held by certain party officials. Maria Tănase was too much the extravagant diva and individualistic artist to allow herself to be co-opted by the state, let alone move even one millimetre towards mediocrity. And so in June 1963 she was buried like a queen at Bucharest′s Bellu Cemetery. Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets for her final journey. It wasn′t until the 1990s before a new light was cast on the legacy of Maria Tănase. She was able to be rediscovered. In 2013 Romanians are celebrating the centenary of Maria Tănase′s birth. This anniversary inspired the Romanian Oana Cătălina Chiţu, who lives in Berlin, to pay homage to the great singer. Oana Cătălina Chiţu grew up in northern Romania. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Ceauşescu regime she moved to Berlin. Upon her arrival, she founded the Balkan band Romenca with Serbian accordion player Dejan Jovanovic, but her yearning for Romanian songs and her love of the artist Maria Tănase never disappeared. At the same time Oana Cătălina Chiţu is not an apologist, awestruck by the legacy of the Romanian diva Maria Tănase. She would like to enter into a dialogue with a phenomenal legacy which, with the exception of a few voices, has almost no creative follow-up in today′s Romanian music scene. New Berlin acoustically encounters old Bucharest. Today musicians from both countries are once again moving as easily between the two cities as they did in the 1930s, when tango singer Jean Moscopol performed in a Berlin casino or sang in the UFA film studios. Thanks to a large number of emigrants music from the Balkans, and from Romania in particular, is better known in Berlin today than ever before; this is not restricted to a specific genre and goes far beyond the phenomenon of Balkan Beats. Oana Cătălina Chiţu is a part of this vibrant scene and her diva-like on-stage persona is reminiscent of times long past, when bohemians and intellectuals met in Bucharest′s salons.

Vinyl, CD & digital

10 € up to 17 €

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Oana Catalina Chitu

Bucharest Tango

Romania

Resurrecting the lost sound of Romanian and Eastern European Tangos as played in Bucharest cafes and parks.

...restaurants and clubs across the 1930s. Oana Cătălina Chiţu and her musicians combine the lost tango songs of that era with the folk ballads of Maria Tanase (1913-1963; the Romanian Piaf). Oana was born in rural Romania and grew up listening to her father sing the lost tangos. Visiting relatives in Bucharest she found they had old gramophones and scratchy 78 recordings of the tangos. She began to memorise this beautiful, vanished music. At the same time she loved the songs of Maria Tanase, the tragic diva of Romania, whose voice once haunted the nation. No other singer of the younger generation from Romania has been able to approach both the tangos à la romanesque and Tanase's ballads so authentically yet freely. Although Romania is a country with a rich musical tradition a virus of cheap, electronic pop music has seized the nation post-revolution. Oana represents the cutting edge of a new generation of Romanians interested in the brilliant - now largely forgotten - musical traditions from a bygone age. "Da-mi gurita s-o sarut" (give me your mouth, so I can kiss it) was sung by the Romanian tango star Jean Moscopol in the thirties. The ladies of interwar Bucharest who fell for his charms were many. Moscopol lived for some years in Berlin where he entertained the wealthy clientele of the Romanian casino together with the George Boulanger Orchestra and sang in UFA films. And yet, he returned to his homeland again and again to perform. When Romania's King Mihail was forced to abdicate in 1947, many artists left Romania, crossing the green border to the West. The voices of the elegant tango and foxtrot singers were gone, Jean Moscopol had emigrated, the Gypsy singer Zavaidoc had died and Cristian Vasile had fallen silent: There was no place for "decadent tango" in the Socialist People's Republic of Romania.

CD & digital

10 €

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Princes Amongst Men

Princes Amongst Men

diverse

The soundtrack to Garth Cartwright's racy, plum-brandy-fuelled journey across the Balkans

Songlines: "This is the soundtrack to Garth Cartwright's racy, plum-brandy-fuelled journey across the Balkans in search of Gypsy musicians. The writing in the book "Princes Amongst Men – Journeys With Gypsy Musicians" was raw but vivedly evocative of the music and musicians encountered... Many of those are featured here, with compelling tracks from larger-than-life characters such as Esma Redzepova, Saban Bajramovic, Boban Markovic and celebrated bands like Fanfare Ciocarlia and Taraf de Haidouks. These are, of course, the usual suspects of Balkan Gypsy compilations, but there are other lesser-known treasures here like Serbia's Kal, Romania's Fulgerica and Bulgaria's Jony Iliev, plus some older Romanian lautari tracks by singer Romica Puceanu and cimbalom maestro Toni Iordache... The 18 tracks have clearly been chosen with hands-on expercience of the territory..." Sudahan put a clarinet to his lips at the wedding of Elvis Huna in Skopje and blew a ferocious wail, summoning the spirit of Shutka (city of Gypsies). Dzansever's a phantom, singing only for Turkish and Gypsy weddings, her voice conveying deep Balkan blues. Sofi Marinova's charming, a devastating singer. Boban rules Serbia's Guca brass band festival. There he sent thousands of youths into ecstasy with his eerie, charged notes. Ederlezi - the holy day for Balkan Gypsies - in Kyustendil mahala, south west Bulgaria. A night never to forget. Jony & Boril Iliev's band played and the ghetto rose in a wave of joy. Esma enters a room - any room - and is acknowledged as the Queen. Saban, choking on a cigarette, remains the Lizard King. Ekrem and Naat: stoic trumpet masters. Ferus leers. Fulgerica frowns. Kal's Dragan Ristic's a smooth operator. In Zece Prajini, Fanfare Ciocarlia's "invisible" village, geese and pigs clutter up the main road and brass echoes across the valley. Taraf de Haidouks translates as Band of Outlaws. Very apt. Eight wild, relentless months . . . from Spring to Winter . . . a Balkan exodus . . . I got the bear and the bear got me. Some dream of running away to join the circus. Mine was to ride with the Gypsies. This is how the journey sounded.

CD & digital

10 €

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Robert 'Robi' Svärd

Pa'ki Pa'ka

Sweden

Debut album from the new guitarist making waves in flamenco... it is a thing of beauty!

This is the story of a Swedish guitarist who was invited to a baptism in Granada, which turned out to be a huge celebrity party in the flamenco world. And it just so happened that he himself was one of the party’s most esteemed guests. His own role models courting him, wanting to meet and shake hands with him. It was like a dream. How did he end up there? The fact is that guitarist Robert 'Robi' Svärd unleashed something during the recording of his debut album, "Pa’ki Pa’ka". His music has already caused many of flamenco’s most prominent musicians to gasp for breath. It has something to do with his fingers, which dance like light as feathers on the strings, making the harmonics glitter like sequins. But it doesn’t stop there. Even if his skill is impossible to miss, it is never boastful, it doesn’t beg for admiration; no, it is just there, making space for love – the love of music. Sometimes it coincides with the love of life, but it can also be that which makes life bearable and beautiful. Such is flamenco and, even in a chilly country like Sweden, the glowing heart of a musician can set the music on fire. Robert 'Robi' Svärd is a classically trained guitarist who won multiple awards and was highly sought after as a young talent in Australia, where he got his education. When he chose to focus on flamenco in Sevilla, the best musicians and dancers soon started to book him on a regular basis. It’s as if all of those quite complicated rhythms, the dynamic expressions, the intricate finger movements – all of it seems to come easy to him. So when Robert 'Robi' Svärd posted a video of his own song on Facebook a couple of years ago, it was really no coincidence that it suddenly had a vast number of shares. Neither was it a coincidence that one of flamenco’s hottest singers, Alfredo Tejada, approached Robert about singing with him. Nor that he was invited to record his album in the legendary FJR Estudios de Grabación in Granada together with the very best musicians in the flamenco world, including Nani Conde (Pata Negra) and the percussionist Miguel 'El Cheyenne', who later invited the Swedish music phenomenon to his daughter’s baptism. This is the story of a Swedish guitarist, and it starts right here

CD & digital

10 €

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Robert 'Robi' Svärd

Alquimia

Sweden

The 2nd album from the groundbreaking Swedish flamenco guitarist.

After the release of his highly acclaimed debut album “Pa'ki Pa'ka” (Asphalt Tango Records 2016), the time has come for Flamenco guitarist Robert 'Robi' Svärd to release an equal follow-up, “Alquimia”. The arrival of "Pa'ki Pa'ka" back in 2016 caused quite a stir and Robi's music soon found its way into the hearts of many leading figures in Flamenco. Many of these giants, such as living legends El Potito, Niño Josele, Luis Moneo and Pepe Torres appear on "Alquimia". Award-winning singer Alfredo Tejada, whose rich and colourful voice we all got accustomed to on "Pa'ki Pa'ka", also makes a re-appearance on "Alquimia", along with some twenty distinguished guests. The results of this alchemical adventure is truly something very special and Robi and friends simply can not wait to unleash "Alquimia" on the world!. Born in 1975 in Sweden, Robert 'Robi' Svärd´s interest in the guitar awakened at an early age. At the tender age of four he strummed his first chords on the instrument which was to captivate him until the present day. In 1992 Robi left Sweden to continue his music studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Australia. And 1998 Robi finally followed his true passion and moved to Sevilla to study Flamenco. There he quickly earned the respect of the “flamencos” of Sevilla. Even though he now once again resides in Sweden, Robi is constantly involved in numerous projects in Spain. In 2017 KAP (The Swedish Society of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) honoured Robert Svärd with their World Music Award 2017.

CD & digital

10 € up to 15 €

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Romica Puceanu

Sounds from a bygone Age Vol. 2

Romania

Recordings from the former Romanian comunist state record label, featuring legendary Gypsy music singer Romica Puceanu.

The grande dame of the "cantece de mahala", Romica Puceanu, was born in Bucharest in 1926 and at the tender age of 14 had already begun to sing in local cafés in the Floreasca and Herestrau quarters on the outskirts of Bucharest. "Romica Puceanu had an inexhaustible repertoire of these songs", the accordion player and singer Victor Gore recalls in the summer of 2005. The singer recorded her first album in 1964 with the Taraful Fratii Gore - Aurel and Victor Gore's band in Electrecord's Tomis Studio. And it was the Gore Brothers who discovered the the young lady with the powerful voice in their own family and helped her on. They arranged gigs for their cousin at weddings in the quarter where the Gore and Puceanu families lived. There Romica Puceanu sang melodies with stirring words, in which she described the everyday life, longings and sufferings of the simple folk. Above all however she was a soulful performer of the songs from the poor suburbs, which merged Turkish "cifte-telli" rhythms with Romanian melodies and lyrics. In a short time she had risen to be the most popular and best paid singer and became the incarnation of Romanian Lautari music. The recordings with the Gore Brothers still represent the traditional "raw" withdrawn sound of the old taraf. The arrangements are clear and minimalist, creating space befitting Puceanu's sparkling voice. Romica Puceanu meant to many Gypsies as much as the legendary chanson singer Maria Tanase meant to the Romanians. And it wasn't only Bucharest intellectuals who saw in Romica Puceanu the "Billy Holliday of the East". Romica PuceanuFollowing the abolition of slavery in 1864, many homeless Gypsies settled on the outskirts of southern Rumanian towns. These quarters on the border between the town and the country were referred to as "mahalas" and it was here that the "cantece de mahala"* - the songs of the suburbs originated. When people met in the "carciuma" or garden cafés, a group of musicians known as a taraf, comprising a violin, double bass, tambal, cobza, accordion and vocals would entertain them. The repertoire of this Gypsy music known as Lautari comprised pieces from a rustic environment, interpreted with great virtuosity and urbane arrangements for a very mixed audience in the town. The grande dame of the "cantece de mahala", Romica Puceanu, was born in Bucharest in 1926 and at the tender age of 14 had already begun to sing in local cafés in the Floreasca and Herestrau quarters on the outskirts of Bucharest. "Romica Puceanu had an inexhaustible repertoire of these songs", the accordion player and singer Victor Gore recalls in the summer of 2005. The singer recorded her first album in 1964 with the Taraful Fratii Gore - Aurel and Victor Gore's band in Electrecord's Tomis Studio. And it was the Gore Brothers who discovered the the young lady with the powerful voice in their own family and helped her on. They arranged gigs for their cousin at weddings in the quarter where the Gore and Puceanu families lived. There Romica Puceanu sang melodies with stirring words, in which she described the everyday life, longings and sufferings of the simple folk. Above all however she was a soulful performer of the songs from the poor suburbs, which merged Turkish "cifte-telli" rhythms with Romanian melodies and lyrics. In a short time she had risen to be the most popular and best paid singer and became the incarnation of Romanian Lautari music. Romica Puceanu's career undoubtedly began with the help of the Gore Brothers - whose name had been legendary in Bucharest since the thirties. At that time Aurel and Victor Gore's father, Gore Ionescu, played his violin in exclusive Bucharest restaurants and his traditional style was so well known, that until his death in the middle of the nineteen-fifties, he was regularly asked to come and make recordings in the Bucharest Folklore Archive. Victor Gore, who was born in 1931, learned to play the accordion, and his brother Aurel, who was three years older, learned to play the violin. When their father died they took his first name as their stage name. Nobody who wanted to celebrate an old-style wedding got past the Gore "Firm" until Aurel Gore's death shortly before the revolution in December 1989. Apart from being a virtuoso accordion player, Victor Gore was also well-known as a singer. "We were born for the music, my father always played real "Lautari music", he was an extraordinary person, who performed with the masters in restaurants such as the 'Pescarus' or in the 'Constantin Tanase' revue theatre", Victor Gore recalls. The Taraful Fratii Gore have sold thousands of records in Romania up to the present day, but the brothers never achieved great wealth. Victor Gore lives today in a small two-room apartment in the Berceni district of Bucharest and relives his memories of the golden years of the old Lautari generation, as the fan letters piled up at Electrecord pleading for the next Gore record. "We played our music throughout the land, we were even invited to play in Sofia. But the best weddings were those of the flower-selling Gypsies in Bucharest.", relates Victor Gore. "We always had a good timbalist with us, usually Marin Marangros, and of course a cobza*, played by Maslina Vetoi, a musician who had also performed with my father. When we played slow, sad songs the gypsies wept, nobody could eat a thing!" The Gore Brothers accompanied many different performers over the years with their band, but their favourite singer was Puceanu, because she sang one hundred per cent Lautari music and enjoyed improvising. Puceanu was a lively, funny woman, who never turned up at the studio without her teapot - filled with cognac. When one of the sound engineers noticed during a studio take that she was holding her words the wrong way up and mentioned this to her, Romica replied: "Would I ever have sung with these men (the Gore Brothers) if I could read?". Yet the arrival of modern music in the long isolated Balkan state has seen to it that only a few young Romanians know such Puceanu classics as "Doi tovarasi am la drum" or "Balanus". Romica Puceanu sang both of these songs on her debut record in 1964, using but few of the usual clichés of the ever-revelling Gypsy musician. The recordings with the Gore Brothers still represent the traditional "raw" withdrawn sound of the old taraf. The arrangements are clear and minimalist, creating space befitting Puceanu's sparkling voice. Romica Puceanu meant to many Gypsies as much as the legendary chanson singer Maria Tanase meant to the Romanians. And it wasn't only Bucharest intellectuals who saw in Romica Puceanu the "Billy Holliday of the East". But the Romanian music scene in the nineties was dominated by Balkan pop and there was hardly any room for the old generation of the Lautari. The Gore Brother's Band disintegrated after the death of Aurel Gore, and the incomparable Romica Puceanu died following a serious car accident in 1996 on her way home from a wedding performance.

CD only

10 €

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Soundwalk Collective

Sons of the Wind

diverse

Recordings from Gypsy villages across the European continent from the New York art collective.

Exile and movement are central to the Roma identity. Their history is written in an universal language: music. Played and sung, handed down spontaneously from generation after generation, it ignores national borders. The Soundwalk Collective followed the course of the Danube and of the music of the Roma, with its combination of Eastern and Western influences, from the Black Sea Delta to the river's source in Germany. From ghettos to mahale, on the trail of the Sons of the Wind, recording heart-rending songs, mournful violins, tinkling cimbaloms, the gutsy tones of brass bands. Sounds accompanied by the words of the Elders, the rustling of long skirts, the wind in the delta plain, and, always in the background, the rumbling of the river. This is the origin of the sound poem Sons of the Wind. The Soundwalk Collective is an international art collective based in Berlin & New York City. Since 2000 they have been sonic nomads, embarking on never ending journeys from the desolate land of Bessarabia to the desert of Rub al Khali. By exploring and documenting the world around us through its sounds, the Collective abstracts and re- composes narrative sound pieces through fragments of reality to form distinct audible journeys. The Collective's live performances are diverse and often site and venue specific. They use a combination of custom-cut vinyl records with multiple turntables, tape machines, laptop computers or custom designed modular systems. Although sound and music are the primary forces in the live setting, projection of video specific to each performance piece creates an environment that is unescapable and unique. Live performances are also transformed into temporary or permanent installations. Aesthetic refinement and conceptual narrative is paired with a performative impulse, making Soundwalk Collective's shows intimate and powerful. The Collective's recent installations and performances were shown at Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris); New Museum (New York); National Museum of Singapore NMS; ARMA 17 (Moscow); Berghain Panoramabar (Berlin); MUDAM (Luxembourg); Florence Gould Hall (New York); CTM Festival 2013 & 2014 (Berlin) just to name a few.

Vinyl & digital

10 € up to 17 €

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Stand up, People

Gypsy Pop Songs from Tito's Yugoslavia, 1964 -1980

diverse

A collection of rare Balkan Pop songs by Gypsy musicians from Tito′s socialist Yugoslavia, 1960-1980.

'Stand Up, people' is an astonishing collection of rare Pop songs by Roma Gypsy musicians from Tito′s socialist Yugoslavia, 1960-1980. Combing rootsy Gypsy Folk rhythms with the new influences of Bollywood film music, Turkish psychedelia and British and American Pop-Rock, these are the songs of sophisticated artists who were captivated by modernity, but who had not lost sight of the old themes of love, loss, and life on the road. You hear incredibly rare early recordings of the King and Queen of Gypsy music, Šaban Bajramovic and Esma Redzepova, displaying the soulfulness that launched their careers. Other singers are less famous: Muharem Serbezovski and Medo Cun, for example, whose high-octane songs feature driving rhythms and a freewheeling Jazz aesthetic that reaches its peak in spiralling improvised solos. What is perhaps most remarkable about 'Stand Up, people' is its inclusion of incredibly rare Kosovan Roma music. This work, exploiting distinctive oriental sounds, has lain unheard for decades. From the Kosovan Roma wedding-singing superstar Nehat Gaši to super-rare artists who only ever released one single, 'Stand Up, people' digs deeper into the corners of Balkan Roma music than ever before.

released May 31, 2013

CD & digital

10 €

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Toni Iordache

Sounds from a bygone Age Vol. 4

Romania

Recordings from the former Romanian comunist state record label, featuring legendary Gypsy musician Toni Iordache.

At the age of four Toni Iordache got to know the smaller portable version of the tzambal (cimbalom). Iordache's friend, the trumpeter Costel Vasilescu, remembers their first meeting well: "I met Toni in 1954 in a village on the outskirts of Bucharest. Toni was playing there and everyone was just standing around him and getting scared, because his playing was so insanely good." Iordache was so gifted a musician he soon was sent on tour through many European countries, the USA and Asia as a representative of Socialist Romania. Returning home he often drove from Bucharest Airport straight to a wedding where his band were waiting for him. At the beginning of the 1970s he was arrested for the illegal possession of foreign currency. Apparently he wanted to buy his wife a fur coat with the money he had earned abroad. Even the prestigious orchestra leader Florian Economu couldn't help his soloist at the trial when he spoke up for him: "We have three giants in Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu (head of state), Ilie Nastase (Romanian tennis champion) and the tzambal player Toni Iordache! Do you really want to convict him for a few dollars?". Toni Iordache was famous for his complex solos, a gifted ensemble player, who enriched many melodies with oriental elements and sophisticated rhythms. For him the technique of playing the tzambal was not solely one of speed; his sensitive touch, immense skill and imaginative verve marked him as a master amongst Lautari. Seriously ill with diabetes, Toni Iordache died in February 1988. Dan Armeanca, the godfather of Romanian Gypsy pop, states: "Toni was a genius on the tzambal, ones like that are not born twice. He respected tradition, but even back then he allowed jazz influences to sound through. He gave us young musicians courage due to his musical audacity." This album contains several Iordache instrumentals alongside recordings with the Lautari singers Gabi Lunca and Romica Puceanu.

CD only

10 €

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Volga

Kumushki Pjut

Russia

Combining experimental electronics with contemporary dance rhythms and Russian folklore.

Volga is an unparalleled project rooted in the Moscow music scene. It successfully combines experimental electronics, contemporary dance rhythms and Russian folklore. Pagan psychedelia, shamanism, melodies and lyrics from ancient times mixed with urban aesthetics and video art are the essential components of Volga's performances. Angela Manukyan, the versatile singer of Volga, has collected ancient texts dating back as far as 1100 A.D. in Russian villages of different regions, all of them written in various dialects. Each dialect requires an unique vocal technique and stands for a singular sound, carefully studied and mastered by the singer. Some might say Volga is the sound of the Middle Ages erupting in our times. Others might object by saying that this is the third millennium speaking to us in the language of the Russian Middle Ages. Just as the central Russian river of the same name unites 200 streams, this band merges together so many musical currents and tides that it magically develops into a new kind of life-giving riverbed. One stream, born of the spirit of mystery, pours ancient Russian texts into this magical mixture, another releases electronic rhythms of trip hop to meet them. Caught by their resilient wave, and foreshortened at once by the beats of the bases (originating either in dub or in house music), the ritual ethnic motifs no longer recognise the familiar shores but seek to overflow them and forge other, henceforth unknown boundaries. Volga's current line-up includes: vocalist and researcher Angela Manukyan (joint projects with Richard Norvila aka Benzo and Species Of Fishes duo); electronics specialist and multi-instrumentalist Roman Lebedev (Metal Corrosion, Alien Pat Holman, Idioritmik); artist and Grammy winner Uri Balashov. The performances of Volga are usually accompanied by video projections created in realtime by Moscow video artist Roman Anikushin and Parisian Oleg Kornev.

CD & digital

10 €

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Ya Tosiba

Love Party

Azerbaijan

Pan european electronic music from Azerbaijan/Finland, documenting marginalized people.

Ya Tosiba is a young electronic music duo by Norwegian-Azerbaijani Zuzu Zakaria and Finnish skweee pioneer Tatu Metsätähti aka Mesak, that mixes old street poetry traditions from Azerbaijan with underground electronic beats. Their sound is inspired by classical Arabic and Persian music, Scandinavian electronic traditions and hip hop - a raw blend of analogue synthesizers, DIY elements and unpolished sounds, heavy electronic beats mixed with traditional instruments and rounded off by Zuzu's hypnotic vocals. Their first album “Love Party” is, in part, an audio documentation of historical conditions and marginalized people. It lends a voice to voiceless civilians from the street corners of suburban Baku in Azerbaijan. The language they use is a hybrid of Russian, modern Turkish and strong Baku dialects. The vocals of "Love Party" are drawn from texts originating in the genre known as meykhana, an ancient local tradition and part of the wedding culture in and around Baku where ‘meykhana acts’ are booked for festive audiences consisting exclusively of men. The word ‘meykhana’ is translated from the Persian for ‘wine house’: the gatherings where it is performed – called ‘meykhana medjlis’ – are Sufi get-togethers and places for religious chanting in Islamic literature. Today, there is a new form of meykhana emerging in local media, and it represents an innovative and different mainstream genre. As soon as globalization and the new open-market capitalism hit the streets of Baku, the genre took on a new meaning in contexts that had little to do with political mobilization or artistic and intellectual stimulation. The texts chosen for “Love Party” attempt to describe resistance – no matter whether it is part of an imperialist past, of low and high local statuses or current stereotypes. Ya Tosiba combined these texts with slightly more Western-style musical compositions. Although the poetry presented speaks of universal issues, it is performed by and for men. For those familiar with the tradition and its context, the idea of having it performed by a woman might be considered disturbing. The terrific album cover was designed by musician, composer, radio DJ and last but not least Finland's 'Graphic Designer Of The Year 2017' Vilunki 3000 aka Mikko Viljakainen.

Vinyl & digital

10 € up to 17 €

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Zdob si Zdub

Basta Mafia

Moldavia

A rock, folk, pop, punk-driven production steeped in ska, and in-your-face melodies from Moldova.

"Moldova might be one of the poorest European countries, but they are rich in musical productivity from their hottest band, Zdob Si Zdub. 'Basta Mafia!' is a rock, folk, pop, and edgy, punk-driven production steeped in ska, electronica, and in-your-face melodies that shake one's body into submission. The dark melodies contain rock-like vocals, but nothing that is too hard on the ears. The vocals are perfect overall, and generally fit the alternative-punk-rock vein. The lyrics are humorous and pertain to traveling, relationships, and the poetic side of society. 'Basta Mafia!' is a cutting-edge album from a seldom-heard region of Europe..." "What city what country is this stage I am on?" Asks Roman Iagupov on the track "Gypsy Life" from the new Zdob si Zdob album titled "Basta Mafia!". And it's no surprise being that Zdob si Zdub are in the truest sense of the word an "international" band. Constantly on the move crossing borders from country to country on never ending tours. From their humble beginnings as a Moldavian folk influenced ska-punk band, they've easily layered a true world mix of highly innovative listenable music with electronica dance and alt rock muscle without loosing any of their core roots. The band has propelled not once but twice to the high ranks of the finals of the Eurovision song contest. This year achieving this feat with the song "So Lucky" from the new Asphalt Tango release "Basta Mafia!". Their appearance caused a storm of devotion on the internet from every country participating. Even capturing several prominent pop figures including Adele, Plan B producer Paul Epworth who went as far as to tweet ".I just thought it was brilliant and so far removed from the Western European entries .I loved the beautiful eccentricity ...". But the band didn't just appear out of nowhere from one of Europe's poorest countries to having a audience of 160 million people rocking out to "So Lucky". This "Basta Mafia" track was born from years of touring. The record title alone "Basta Mafia!" deals out a statement in itself of where they come from (the former Soviet Union) to what has become now (another superpower of the underworld) to where they are heading (their own independent route ). So with a sense of irony and humor the title "Basta Mafia!" suggest a stop to the old ways. Not only the political but also the musical and mental ways. To make the break from old the band went to record in the ever transformative city of Berlin Germany. The city that in turn transformed the likes of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, U2, Peaches, Bonaparte and countless others. In Berlin's cross cultural talent pool the boys worked with Marc Elsner as their new innovative producer. New York's Andy Schuman was also brought in to help bring Roman's vision of the songs to English. This multicultured combination of talents has led to Zdob Si Zdub's most ambitious and accessible piece of work yet. "Basta Mafia!" is a monster of a record that grows and swells upon multible listenings. Enjoy...

Vinyl, CD & digital

10 € up to 14 €

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