Monthly Archives: August 2014

Rodion’s Dream Article by Vlad Ursulean For Casa Journalistului 2014

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A 61-year-old bloke is tormenting two German journalists in a Berlin café. He’s bombarding them with psychedelic explanations of his music, which swings between the baroque and the satanicJuliet is being lashed with an anchor chain and the angels are weeping. The two look like trendy detectives, paralyzed in a desperate attempt to smile their way through the interview. It’s an overdose.

They came here for a simple story: a musical genius has the misfortune of being born in communist Romania. He reinvents electronic music, but is defeated by the system and ends up sharing a house with his chickens in a small village. He is rediscovered in the age of the Internet and turned into an underground star. Happy end.

But Rodion has built his life like a castle, a monumental fortified structure. To penetrate it without being crushed, you need to start with the foundation and go through it brick by brick.

Sometimes when I’m alone I ask myself: how is it possible for me to make music and for people to say it’s the best music? 
Sometimes I fear I’m going to wake up and see that all of this was just a dream.

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hen he was 5 years old, Rodion Ladislau Rosca went to the seaside with his mother and in the train station he saw a train looming up with steam and big wheels banging djj djj, an intense noise, and then the engine breaks djjt tsss… these sounds blended into his mind and came out as a song.

Later he went to a Labour Day parade and the rhythm mesmerized him, with its powerful bass drum beat. I could feel the air pressure and that felt very good… I wanted to do that.

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In school, he would often look at the blackboard, he would see jungle vines in the soggy traces left behind by the sponge. He hardly understood anything, as he was hastily moved from classes taught in Hungarian to Romanian ones.
To cope, he designed a secret alphabet and a personal emblem depicting a character who was appalled by people’s wickedness and wanted to set things right – his guardian angel. Sketched as a couple of lines and two circles, his guardian angel looked a bit like a tape recorder. Later on, he used it as a logo for his company. He still relates to it.

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Teachers would interrupt his daydreaming and punish him.Filthy people.

He was restless. He would shake his legs while eating and bang around with his hands, with spoons and plates. They sent him to the psychologist and he suggested going to musical school. Before I started to play guitar everyone said I was deranged.

In sixth grade, one of his classmates had a band who fooled around in someone’s basement with a toy drum, a guitar and a tape recorder. Fascinated by this, he convinced his mother to buy him a guitar, borrowed the tape recorder and locked himself in his room with the instruments.

A song is like a story. You can experience it from beginning to end, as if you were walking on a rope. Or you can separate it into threads – each one representing a different story – that by some sort of magic remain connected and in tune.

The tape recorder taught Rodion to weave each thread together until they were all strong as a rope. To compose.  I can feel certain sounds, it’s as if they are coming from heavens.

The magnetic tape has two tracks which you can record separately and then play together. He would record the guitar on one track and the vocals on the other and struggled on until they were in sync. Using another recorder, he would then copy the resulting combined sound onto a single track. He used the remaining track for the drums. He couldn’t do a guitar solo so he would record it note by note, over and over again, as if he were knitting a song.

He learned how to produce sound effects from accidental noises or rustles. “Everyone thought I was using synthesizers but I didn’t have any, I only said I had, but that was only one of my wishes.”
His songs have words, but the voice is just another instrument used for its tone – the message is not in the words. When he uses words to express himself, he seems to be translating from an alien language. These lyrics, written when he was 16, are the closest he got to human expression:

For some life is when the feet are on the ground,
my life’s a dream in which I only want to make a sound.

Imagni DIn Vis

He started composing around 15 and altogether made hundreds of tunes, enough for a lifetime of recording, albums and concerts. At 24 he was already a legend in Cluj, his hometown. He was the king of vinyl records (the records were being supplied by one of his friends in Norway) and he was setting up a flourishing trade with sound equipment. He became the go to person for any wedding or gig as he could supply the best PA systems.

Simultaneously he was working at the Heavy Machinery Manufacturing Plant as an industrial radiologic defectoscopy specialist. Two of his work colleagues listened to his tapes and suggested forming a band. Rodion wanted to call it “Fort” as it was in tune with his monumental vision but another band with the same name emerged so they called it “Rodion G.A.”. Lots of people were wondering what the mysterious “GA” stood for – perhaps the Andromeda Galaxy? It was only the initials of Gicu Fărcaș and Adrian Căpraru, his band mates.

They were playing the songs written by young Rodion, but in the live concerts they couldn’t reproduce the exact sound he’d achieved on the tapes. Some of them were extremely complicated and would have required a whole orchestra or computers. Without them, the band only achieved a flagging 80’s rock sound.

The psychedelic side of their music would shine on the radio. The band never recorded an album (they didn’t have any connections in Bucharest) but Rodion would send his tapes to the radio station and they would take the airwaves by storm, most of them ending up on the top of the charts.

“My friends listened to the radio so I started a notebook for them to write their opinions in. Some said I was nuts, some that I was a genius but I remember one of them wrote «Rodi, mate, you’re making music 30 years ahead of its time». The funny thing is the 30 years are just up now.”

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30 years later, Rodion is on stage in the coolest club in Berlin and he is playing the songs just as he had imagined them when it was just him alone with his tape recorder.

He’s confused and he lost his glasses, he keeps looking for them in a coat. He’s wearing a beige shirt with a pocket full of pens. He pulls out a little notebook. He inspects it for a few seconds and puts it on a little table, next to a wooden box with a lot of buttons and two winding tapes – a Tesla tape recorder from the 70’s. He steps to the microphone and informs the audience: “This song is called Bau-bau.” Play.

The room is full of stylish hipsters. They’re mesmerized by the recorder. “Tapes forever!” yells one of them. Others come closer to the stage and take pictures on their phones just as you would with a museum exhibit, while Rodion pulls out a screwdriver and tinkers with the recorder in the act – as he tightens a screw, the sound sharpens.

Four youngsters come on the stage, they’re the band Steaua de Mare from Bucharest. They’ll be playing the songs that Rodion wrote 30 years ago, when he was a young man in a communist Romania that wasn’t ready for him. Boom djjjt, the room pulses to a psychedelic blast. People are starting to dance. It smells of hashish.

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Rodion spent the day of the gig backstage in Kantine am Berghain (one of the halls of the most famous club in Berlin – where the orgies happen and you wait for hours to get in).
During sound testing, he chows done on sandwiches and bananas and empties free bottles of coke. Next to him, shy little old man sits on a small chair. He introduces himself as Alexander Robotnik, none other than the inventor of house music in ’83.

– I’m not normal, Rodion heralds himself.
– Nobody is normal in this place…

Somebody plays one of Robotnik’s songs on a mobile. Rodion listens carefully for about 5 seconds in which he remembers his hate for DJs. These people slither around the buttons like snakes!

– It sounds… ordinary.
– …?!?
– I heard many songs like this.
– Yeah, but I was the first!

Then he plays his song The Citadel, now that’s a genuine song – he drums on his knees to the rhythm, conducts the orchestra inside the iPhone, explaining each section.

– Wow, zice Robotnik, this has something gipsy…

-Noo, it’s monumental, like Roman Empire, zice Rodion, replies Rodion, insulted that his Citadel was compared to a tent…

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Rodion had gigs in Control (a hip club in Bucharest), in Moscow and Berlin. He’s signed by Strut Record in the UK and his original songs can be bought on iTunes. The international relaunch was engineered by his new band mates from Steaua de Mare through the Future Nuggets label – a posse of musicians with a passion for lost specimens and eclectic combinations. They play with gypsy musicians or with convicts in prisons, pouring oriental sounds in a cool fusion rock genre.

“We started off on the idea of creating a psychedelic scene in Bucharest” says the bass player Ion Dumitrescu. “So Rodion fitted in perfectly, we had at last a psychedelic tradition!”

The transition from old to new psychedelics isn’t always smooth. The band prefers funky improvisation while Rodion wants it all to be heavy and cold, precisely like the original recordings.

While on the microphone, he quarrels with band mates, yells with reverb, it sound like a battle of the gods. “I can sing better than all of you on my own!” he decides and exits the room dancing like a big goose.

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The leader of the band, Andrei Dinescu, stays behind huffing and puffing, his guitar hanging. “Do we want it to be for old men or do we want today’s sound?!” He has long hair and he wears a sheepskin out instead of a regular coat, people stop him on the street to take pictures.

The first time they met, Rodion told him about a fetish for girls who eat live goldfish. The man replaces the fish, wanting to be eaten. “Just so we don’t make the wrong impression of him… It was really cool, we laughed like we were 14 again. Here comes mister 60 year old to teach us how to laugh again like in the 90’s, wildly, perversely.”

The drummer Piti (Eugen Imecs) is also frowning. Rodion tells him off, he thinks he’s too jazzy and doesn’t strike hard enough, like a hammer. “I love him like my own family, but don’t understand him and wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.” When they first met they went straight to rehearsals, playing the same song 39 times. Anywhere there was a slight imperfection, Rodion would say STOP and everyone had to start again. R-rewind-reverse-rodion.

Horatiu Serbanescu is the youngest in the band, at 24. He often locks eyes with Rodion and they both smile like children. He must have looked just like him in his youth. It’s for his sake that Rodion puts his ego to the side and carries on.

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While he was away in Berlin, two of Rodion’s hens and two roosters died and his cat disappeared without a trace. He returned to his home in Așchileu Mare (a village in Transilvania) to find his bed soiled by chicks. He lets them live in the middle of his steampunk bedroom so they don’t freeze to death.

Instead of a mat, he has a toolbox at the door. The single bed is surrounded by shelves going up to the ceiling, full of little boxes labelled in a secret alphabet, papers, leads, original porn DVDs, artists’ credentials. One of the shelves homes the tapes he recorded in his youth, bearing the label “GOLD!”.

On top of his wardrobe sits a golden trophy which he won in a 1987 seaside festival. It’s covered in spider webs, like a phantom ship. His old computer is whirring like a bumble bee, underneath it onions laying out to dry.

The room is heated by a stove he carefully built himself with special bricks, but nonetheless it’s leaking smoke. He has to keep the door open with a dried corn cob to let the smoke out and the cold in to take the place of the heat he’d originally built the stove for. It all starts logically but ends up in a vicious cycle.

The house is big, with lots of rooms and two attics – all of them filled with objects Rodion has hoarded over the years – speakers, computers, mixers, sausage makers, huge plush elephant, piles of clothes used as carpeting.

hile he was away in Berlin, two of Rodion’s hens and two roosters died and his cat disappeared without a trace. He returned to his home in Așchileu Mare (a village in Transilvania) to find his bed soiled by chicks. He lets them live in the middle of his steampunk bedroom so they don’t freeze to death.

Instead of a mat, he has a toolbox at the door. The single bed is surrounded by shelves going up to the ceiling, full of little boxes labelled in a secret alphabet, papers, leads, original porn DVDs, artists’ credentials. One of the shelves homes the tapes he recorded in his youth, bearing the label “GOLD!”.

On top of his wardrobe sits a golden trophy which he won in a 1987 seaside festival. It’s covered in spider webs, like a phantom ship. His old computer is whirring like a bumble bee, underneath it onions laying out to dry.

The room is heated by a stove he carefully built himself with special bricks, but nonetheless it’s leaking smoke. He has to keep the door open with a dried corn cob to let the smoke out and the cold in to take the place of the heat he’d originally built the stove for. It all starts logically but ends up in a vicious cycle.

The house is big, with lots of rooms and two attics – all of them filled with objects Rodion has hoarded over the years – speakers, computers, mixers, sausage makers, huge plush elephant, piles of clothes used as carpeting.

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It’s a slimy chaos, covered in dust.

At a closer look, though, you can start to see draconic organization. Labels and inscriptions. Hundreds of drawers and corners with precise purpose. The empty bottle in the hallway is not rubbish, it’s “WOOD SHAVINGS 2013 09 25”. Each object has a history and a clear role in Rodion’s hyper-detailed plan.

It’s all in his computer. Everything’s in the computer. Hundreds of folders with text files in which he writes every single detail of his life, laid out in tables drawn manually in Notepad. From the meaning of life to the day when his dog chewed the lead, got away and bit a chicken. His whole life is planned minutely.

FAMILY # ASSHOLES # MEMORIES # MY MISTAKES

The only problem is that in order to finish everything he started he would need a couple hundred years. He’s 61 and has liver cancer.

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Rodion doesn’t kill anything, he rears his chicken and lets them die of old age. He thinks Earth is a sort of hell for animals and doesn’t want to take part in it. It’s hell for the victim, heaven for the killer. You can only live if you kill. There is no living being who doesn’t suffer.

Sometimes he feels he’s in animal’s hell. It’s like a bad dream.

The musical adventure of his youth finished in 1989 when his mother died of cancer. She was all he had, he hadn’t met his father. It was for her he made music, for her he put up with the whims of communists, so she could be happy when she heard him on the radio. Without her, it didn’t have any purpose.

So he started to repair speakers.  “When I work on them I have time to think of the microcosm, the macrocosm, of the fact that our universe could be a cell in another universe…” He has worked abroad as a day laborer but in the end he bought a house in the countryside. Only in the country he couldn’t trade speakers on the black market and nobody needed repairs so he almost starved for a few years.

In 2012 he was €7000 in debt and he was about to go to Hungary and get a job in a phone factory, when he got a call from Bucharest. He said «mister Rodion, don’t go, I’ll give you this money, come to Bucharest and let’s play music together». The man paid his debt and paid for his trip and accommodation, so he went to Bucharest.

The man was Ion, the bass player of Steaua de Mare. This is how Rodion ended up commuting between rural Aschileu and central Bucharest, between chickens and hipsters.

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This sudden turnaround seems to have made him more worried than happy. He has begun a lot of projects and he’s run out of time, he has to make music, there’s no time…

Rodion has a big belly from the liver cancer which he hasn’t started treating yet. He’s on the waiting list for medication, he barely managed to pay for his medical insurance. He explains with a kind of sick pride that the disease is making him tired and forgetful: “The liver ceased to separate the ammonia in my body, which is killing my brain cells”.

Sources from inside the band claim he is rather tired from staying up until 6 am to watch porn movies, snuff or accident footage. Either way, tough times are ahead as the interferons give side effects like hallucinations, suicidal tendencies and deviant behaviour.

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The person who has come to know him the best in the past years is Sorin Luca, a documentary film maker who lived with Rodion for a year to make a movie about him. His description of Rodion is: “He’s an exaggeration of the way our society works. We hoard everything, we throw our lives away for petty things, trying to safeguard tomorrow’s security with objects we don’t need… He mirrors our anxieties to an extreme level. You have no clue where to run next, who to love… you would do it all, but have limited time.”

Rodion says he would like just what a kid would want: a little car, a house with basement and loft, a blonde with blue eyes and straight hair who would take care of me like my own mother.

He’s still far from all this. He is back on stage, he played in Berlin, the capital of culture, but he still doesn’t have enough money for firewood, so he heats the house with some corn cobs his neighbour gives him for free.

He has spent his whole life classifying things only to end up in chaos. The house is a chaos. He doesn’t even have real speakers for his own computer. He’s got hundreds of sound systems in the attic but still listens to Albanian music on some cheap Genius speakers.

“There is a psychology of the craftsman” he says. “I’m, just like the tailor who hasn’t got time to make himself a proper pair of trousers.”

Only Rodion is a jack of all trades, so he hasn’t got time for anything at all.

Article About Rodion G.A. In Wax Poetics

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In the late ’70s and early ’80s in communist Romania, Rodion Ladislau Roșca and his band Rodion G.A. created a hybrid of electronic music, psychedelics, and progressive rock that, decades later, has revealed itself to be remarkably ahead of its time. After years of obscurity, and only a handful of singles ever released officially, Rodion’s music is finally getting the recognition it deserves. This is the story of the music, conducted as an interview with Ion Dumitrescu of Bucharest’s Future Nuggets crew.

The Lost Tapes, the first ever commercially released album of Rodion G.A.’s music, is due May 28 on Strut Records in association with Future Nuggets and Ambassador’s Reception.

Strut’s bio:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review of The Lost Tapes in exclaim.ca

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Rodion Rosca came of age during Romania’s “open period” of 1965 to 1972, soaking up jazz, Kraut and prog-rock influences, forming Rodion G.A. (the G.A. refers to band members Gicu Farcas and Adrian Capraru) under the oppressive shadow of Nicolae Ceausescu in 1975. In stark contrast to the sanitized pop music of the period, and despite the barebones recording techniques and instruments ⎯ East German drum machines, a toy Casio and a Soviet-made Faemi organ, all recorded and overdubbed on primitive Tesla machines — the sounds on The Lost Tapes are immersive, complex and also difficult to classify. Strains of Can, early Pink Floyd and Kraftwerk are echoed throughout. However, it’s with the jumpy, off-kilter time signature on cosmic workout “Diagnola,” the aggressive, techno-creepy drive of “Cantaec Fulger” and narcotized, ambient closer “Zephyr,” which juxtaposes haunting vocals and classical piano touches with queasy psychedelic effects, where The Lost Tapes demonstrates how musicians behind the Iron Curtain appropriated Western influences into a unique, personal and essential hybrid.

Rodion G.A. Interview For CTM Festival February 2014.

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The music of Rodion G.A. has, until recently, remained unknown to most of the world. The group was formed in Romania in 1975 by Ladislau Roșca with Gicu Fărcaș and Adrian Căpraru, and used Tesla reel-to-reel tape machines to layer sounds and construct a unique stylistic hybrid of electronic music, psychedelia, and progressive rock.

Due to a  1971 state regime shift in the country, inspired by the communist policies of North Korea that imposed censorship on artistic production, only two Rodion G.A. tracks ever saw official release, both on state-run label Electrecord’s Formatti Rock Vol. 5 compilation. The band performed throughout the 80s and composed scores for the film Delta Space Mission and the Romanian National Opera, but the majority of their work remained suppressed, despite avoidance of explicitly political content and the overwhelming popularity of their radio-only singles.

In recent years, Romanian filmmaker Luca Sorin began collecting rare film footage of the band, together with experimental music collective Future Nuggets, resurrecting interest in the enigmatic Roșca and the story of Rodion G.A. In June 2012, Rodion G.A. performed at the Transylvania International Film Festival in Rosca’s hometown of Cluj, Romania. The Lost Tapes, a compilation of remastered original Rodion G.A. reels, was released in May 2013 on Strut Records, increasing interest in the musician outside his home country. The release was issued in conjunction with Future Nuggets and Steve Kotey’s Ambassador’s Reception label, on which Future Nuggets’ LP Sounds Of The Unheard From Romania came out in 2012.

Rodion G.A.’s appearance at CTM 2014 marks their first performance outside the Iron Curtain.