As the leaves fall incessantly from the trees and nostalgia creeps upon our hazed souls, the music returns back where it belongs – dingy clubs and sweaty pubs. As a prerequisite to some bouncing live sounds, there must be inspiring records. Swag, chalga and plunderphonics: delve in.
We have just returned from a two-week exploratory trip to Bulgaria, still dazed from all the experiences which haven’t had time to settle into the inner recesses of the memory. The country is an amalgam of influences ranging from its 500 Ottoman rule to relics of communism which somehow still keeps its claws upon the country’s status quo, as well as the ornamental Orthodox legacy. Bulgaria is an ideal breeding ground for an aural cacophony. The local electronic scene may seem miniscule at first sight, but still, on the day of our arrival to Sofia, there was a release party for the city’s tape label WTF IS SWAG (yes, that’s how it’s called) at the city’s only proper music club (so we’ve been told) Vlaikova. Largely composed of local musicians, the compilation aims to showcase local urban music in its latest metamorphoses.
Turbofolk, manele, Tallava, chalga. If you’ve ever been the to the Balkans, or are at least vaguely interested in the music of this region, chances are you’ve come across this blend of high-octane pop-folk, which due to its vicinity to the Orient, even at its worst, still sounds better than your “best” schlager hit. All this is coated in glossy Eurodance production. In Bulgaria, the much-maligned chalga industry is booming and its main star is of course Azis, the transvestite singer whose infamy long transgressed the borders of this southeastern state (just watch this DIS interview by Fatima Al Qadiri). If you’re looking for more, check out this curated display of the bizarre world of chalgatronics.
Labels are popping up like mushrooms these days, and another sprang up in Poland. Plunderphonics is the brainchild of 18-year-old Krystian Stebnicki. Instigated by a Satanicpornocultshop tweet, he released an EP by Japanese digital noiseheads Dagshenma, followed by a string of releases (four so far since June 2012!), whose sound ranges from the faux-French EBM of CochonPorc to experimentalism of Molr Drammaz. John Oswald might be proud.
Another Polish imprint, the great Mik Musik! delivered a mixtape for us full of previously unreleased songs and rarities from demented techno through debauched sampledelia, exclusively by its diverse roster.
Interested in more obscure and exciting music from Eastern Europe? Head to Easterndaze.