Rodion G.A’s The Lost Tapes is the most eagerly awaited albums of 2013. It’ll be released Strut Records on 27th May 2013. However, Rodion G.A. aren’t a new band. Quite the opposite. Instead, Rodion G.A. were formed by Rodion Rosca between 1975 and 1976. The ten tracks that comprise The Lost Tapes are experimental and innovative tracks which were recorded during the early eighties. Incredibly, this the first album Rodion G.A. have released during their long career, which stretches back to the seventies. Apart from two tracks released by the Romanian state-owned Electrecord label, no other material by Rodion G.A. has been released during the past four decades. That’s what makes this such an exciting project. Indeed, for those that haven’t heard of Rodion G.A, The Lost Tapes is an opportunity to discover one of music’s real innovators, which I’ll now tell you about.
Like so many other artists, the words enigmatic is the perfect way to describe Rodion Rosca. He was born in Romania and is half-Romanian and half-Hungarian. Rodion grew up in Romania during the open period between 1965 and 1972. During this time, Rodion was exposed to an eclectic selection of musical influences, he heard on the radio. This included everything from rock, pop and jazz music. While the music he heard on the radio was primarily English and American, the city of Cluj, on the border with Hungary, had a healthy musical scene.
Among Cluj’s lead bands were prog rock groups like Cromatic and Experimental Quintet. Soon, Rodion had immersed himself in the local music scene and had established a reputation as a prolific collector of vinyl, including the classic rock of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and The Who. Rodion didn’t restrict himself to classic rock. He was also interested in the more progressive, electronic bands of the era, including groups from Eastern and Western Europe. This included Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Yes, plus West Germany’s Kraftwerk, East Germany’s Karat, Czechoslovakia’s Matador and Hungary’s Skorpio. These eclectic influences would influence Rodion Rosca’s musical career.
From the late sixties, it became apparent that Rodion was going to make a career out of music. To do this, he had to forge his own unique sound. Rock music dominated Romanian music during this period. However, the music Rodion would create was very different from rock music. Using reel-to-reel tape recorders and built around just vocals, guitars and drums. The result was music that was understated, sparse and simple. Sometimes, the music could be describes as improvisational, experimental and haunting. Having made his first step into the world of music, three years later, Rodion would form Rodion G.A.
In 1975, Rodion joined with Gicu Farcas and Adrian Caparu to complete the lineup of Rodion G.A. Gicu and Adrian provided the G.A. in Rodion G.A. For his part, Rodion contributed a myriad of studio equipment. By 1975, Rodion had amassed an eclectic selection of equipment and established a reputation as a D.I.Y. tech wizard. He created his own unique way of creating music on reel-to-reel tape recorders, using the various tape machines to multitrack. His nascent studio included several Tesia tape recorders, drum machines, phasers, flangers and fuzz pedals. Then there were a toy Casio VL Tone and a Soviet made Faemi organ. Like the music Rodion G.A. were making, the equipment they were using was leftfield and eclectic.
Although Rodion G.A. were producing music during music this period, they weren’t releasing music. After all, this was the communist era and the state dominated countries like Romania and there was only one Romanian record label. This was the state-owned Electrecord label. During their first session, two tracks which can be found on the Formatti Rock Volume 5 compilation were recorded. Then at a second session, five other tracks were recorded. Sadly, they were never released. However, the recording engineer allowed Rodion to record the five tracks onto his own tape machine from the studio’s main mixing desk. This allowed Rodion G.A. to use these tracks to build new tracks. Some of these new tracks were played on Romanian radio stations and reached the top of the Romanian charts. That was the extent of Rodion G.A’s recordings. Without further recordings and more publicity and exposure, they weren’t going to achieve a higher profile. Despite this, Rodion G.A. didn’t give up. Instead, they embarked upon a series of extensive tours during the eighties.
During Rodion G.A’s tours, the band played through a custom-made P.A. Amps and speaker cabinets proudly bore the Rodion G.A. logo. This resulted in Rodion G.A. having a totally unique sound, one that bore no similarities to other Romanian groups. Best described as dense, raw, complicated and complex, veering into the realms of classical and prog rock, Rodion G.A’s music was unique and inimitable. They became a favorite at festivals throughout Romania, which since 1972, had become a much harsher regime. Rodion G.A. toured Romania, playing everywhere from festivals to restaurants. Bands had to be on their guard. They never knew when the state censors would arrive at concerts. Luckily, Rodion G.A. became expert at avoiding the state censors, who were known to chastise a group for singing: “yeah, yeah, yeah.” It seemed that for a Romanian band, like Rodion G.A, trying to make a commercial breakthrough during the communist era was almost impossible. After all, they couldn’t release albums, and touring was the only way to lift their profile. However, by the early eighties, other opportunities were coming Rodion’s way.
Away from touring, Rodion contributed the soundtrack to the movie Delta Space Mission during the mid-eighties. Unfortunately, the music Rodion had provided was turned down, and Adrian Enescu was given the job. Then Rodion contributed the soundtracks to plays, ballet and gymnastics exhibitions. Despite being well received, none of these projects provided a lasting legacy for Rodion G.A. By now, the end was almost nigh for one of Romanian music’s great innovators.
What proved to be Rodion G.A’s final concert took place at Mangalia Festival in 1987. It was around this time that Rodion’s mother had died. This resulted in Rodion walking away from music for twenty-five years.
Nothing further was heard from Rodion for twenty-five years. Then Luca Sorin, a blogger and filmmaker became interested in the mythology that surrounds Rodion. After months of researching Luca discovered a handful of tracks by Rodion and footage of their 1980 New Year’s Eve concert. He posted this online. This came to the attention of Future Nuggets. They’re a collective of musicians and producers who are determined to preserve Romania’s musical heritage. They also are seeking to forge new alliances within the country’s musical community. Then in 2012, Rodion G.A. made their comeback, after twenty-five years away from music. Now a year later, Rodion G.A. who were formed nearly four decades ago, will release their debut album The Lost Tapes, on Strut Records.
The Lost Tapes is a real genre-sprawling album. During its ten tracks, musical influences and genres melt seamlessly into one. It’s full of musical surprises aplenty. Listen carefully and you’ll hear an eclectic selection of influences. Alpha Centauri which opens The Lost Tapes is a prime example. Its influences are eighties electronics, jazz, folk, rock, World Music and ambient influences.
Cântec Fulger is a much more intense experience. It’s broody, moody and dramatic, before heading in the direction of dense and discordant. Rock, jazz and prog rock are the influences for Caravane, where the guitars draw inspiration from Jimi Hendrix. Here, sixties rock and seventies prog rock inspire Rodion G.A. to even greater heights of musical genius. Citadela is reminiscent of Cântec Fulger. It has a darker and much more dramatic sound, before banks of prog rock keyboards drive the track along.
Diagonala has a much more spartan arrangement. This is reminiscent of Radion’s early music. While this track was recorded in the eighties, it has a much more seventies sound. That’s down to the synths, which are at the heart of the arrangement. Similarly, Salt 83 is dominated by synths. They’re at the heart of everything that’s good about this track. It has a real uplifting early eighties sound that has you captivated for three minutes. The same can be said of Disco Mania. It’s rich in influences. There’s everything from prog rock, eighties electronics, jazz, psychedelia and Afro Beat thrown into the musical melting pot by Rodion G.A. This results is a groove oriented track that’s an enthralling fusion of influences.
Zephyr is a track that draws its influences from electronic music. It has a quite lo-fi sound, with just synths and drum machines at the heart of the arrangement. Having said that, this multilayered, dramatic track has a hypnotic sound and isn’t short of surprises.
Probably the most intriguing track on The Lost Tapes is Imagini Din Vis. One minute it’s elegant and ethereal, the next it’s heading in the direction of searing seventies rock guitars. These rocky guitars are joined by rolls of drums and old school synths. When all this is combined, the result is a track that draws inspiration from a variety of musical genres and influences.
A quite beautiful and poignant way to close The Lost Tapes is În Liniștea Nopți. It’s a track that’s inspired by fuzzy guitars, pensive piano and washes of synths. Just two-and-a-half minutes long, it’s not unlike the soundtrack to a film that’s yet to be made. Melancholy, pensive and ponderous, it demonstrates a very different and eclectic side to Rodion G.A’s music. Here, elements of rock, classical and jazz all play their part in what’s quite simply the best track on The Lost Tapes.
If Rodion G.A. had been either a British or American band, they’d have enjoyed the critical acclaim and commercial success their talent deserved. Sadly, their most productive period was during communist rule in Romania. That meant that their music never found the wider audience it deserved. That’s what makes the story of Rodion G.A. almost tragic. Through no fault of their own, they were unable to enjoy the success their talent so obviously deserved.
Although innovative is an overused word, Rodion G.A. were a truly innovative group. They weren’t afraid to push musical boundaries. In doing so, they fused musical genres, throwing everything from rock, jazz, prog rock, electronic, ambient and classical music into their musical melting pot. Having given it a stir, the result was a unique, enthralling and captivating sound that was unlike anything else of its time. Indeed, Rodion G.A. were way ahead of their time.
Sadly, Rodion G.A’s career lasted just over ten years. In 1987, after the death of his mother, Rodion Rosca walked away from music. For the next twenty-five years, nothing was heard of this charismatic, enigmatic and mercurial musician. Then in 2012, blogger and filmmaker Luca Sorin tracked Rodion down. Thanks to Luca, Rodion G.A. played a comeback concert and on 27th May 2013, The Lost Tapes will be released by Strut Records. Amazingly, The Lost Tapes is Rodion G.A’s debut album and will give a new generation of music lovers the opportunity to discover the music of an innovative and visionary musical group. Standout Tracks: Alpha Centauri, Zephyr, Imagini Din Vis and În Liniștea Nopți.