Rough sounding European folk music?
January 29, 2009 7:02 AM   Subscribe

Help me identify this band I heard. Hungarian / Russian / Czech / Other Easter European folk orchestra?

It was very dark and haunting kind of folk ensemble. First you might hear a solo female voice, very ... warbly. And then a whole chorus would come in, also very rough sounding. There were cymbals, bass drums and tubas. Almost all in a minor key. Sounded like something you'd hear during a 19th century peasant's funeral, maybe.

I've been searching for this music forever, it was so beautiful.

Any ideas? FWIW I heard it when I was living with British expats overseas.
posted by Baby_Balrog to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Devotchka, maybe?

There's quite a lot in that category, so if you could hit us with things like a date range, did it hit the radio, etc.
posted by adipocere at 7:04 AM on January 29, 2009

or beirut?
posted by apostrophe at 7:05 AM on January 29, 2009

if this is something you heard recently i agree with apostrophe it was beirut, they were pitchforks baby in 2006.
posted by phil at 7:12 AM on January 29, 2009

Response by poster: Neither of those (but they're both awesome).

It was quite recently that I heard it (last summer).

I think these were recordings of legitimate gypsy-type people, not people playing gypsy-sounding music. And it was a big chorus, maybe 30 or 40 people, with traditional instruments (didn't hear any electrified instruments.)

Thanks for the suggestions, though.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:32 AM on January 29, 2009

Response by poster: Well.. maybe not 30 or 40 people. Possibly 10 to 20. And they were really belting it out.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:35 AM on January 29, 2009

I don't have an answer, but I'm very interested in the answer if you ever find it. This seems to be a really tough range of music to discover things in, because it ranges from Fanfare Ciocarlia (the big, bumping tuba sound), to the ethereal, gorgeous Eva Quartet.
posted by fake at 7:45 AM on January 29, 2009

When did you hear this?

try the Warsaw Village Band...
posted by omnidrew at 7:53 AM on January 29, 2009

Golgol Bordello?
posted by horsemuth at 8:24 AM on January 29, 2009

or possibly Taraf de Haïdouks
posted by horsemuth at 8:33 AM on January 29, 2009

Could it have been klezmer, rather than "gypsy" music?
posted by orrnyereg at 8:55 AM on January 29, 2009

The Warsaw Village Band?
posted by idiomatika at 9:44 AM on January 29, 2009

Could it be Moğollar? Here is a list of Romani musicians that might help.
posted by schyler523 at 9:48 AM on January 29, 2009

Like this? Lado is the Croatian National Dance group. Ladarke is a siognature piece, and representative of traditional Croatian music.

Bulgarian chorus. Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares.
posted by theora55 at 2:58 PM on January 29, 2009

Response by poster: ...I don't see it here. I'm going to try to track down one of the brits. If and when I find it I'll totally let you know.
Thanks for your help everyone, these are all awesome bands and I feel like even though I didn't find the specific group I've now got a great wealth of bands to listen to.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:15 PM on January 29, 2009

Response by poster: theora55 that first link is the closest thing I've found so far. Thanks... probably means it was Croatian then.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:23 PM on January 29, 2009

Response by poster: Yeah, like those linked to but... rougher. Harsher, and it had both men and women singing. A woman would sing the first part but the chorus involved men as well.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:24 PM on January 29, 2009

I wouldn't assume it's Croatian on the basis of that sample (though of course, it may be) - there's quite a lot of village music in the Balkans that's very similar to it, but may come from any number of regions / countries - Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria and other places share a lot of the aspects heard in the link above. It occurs to me that this music may not be "Gypsy" music . . . could you have perhaps confused village folk costumes a kind of folk music with the music of the Roma? I ask this as "legitimate gypsy-type people" is a pretty weird description of anybody!

What you describe could be a lot of things. But "cymbals, bass drums and tubas" does suggest various strains of Rom music.

Kalyi Jag ("Black Fire") is the website of this Hungarian Roma band. They're largely a vocal group - there's often a strummed (but simple) guitar, some percussion and something that could be mistaken for a tuba (but isn't!) They may not be the right band, but they're worth a listen. The site's a little wonky, so the first place to start is this video, though for the music only.

Even more "rough" is Kanizsa Csillagai, who are another Hungarian Rom band, although their origins are in Romanian, so most of their songs are in an archaic form of that language. This song is a little more uptempo than many of their others.

Someone mentioned Taraf De Haïdouks, who are phenomenal - and this video is my favorite thing by them, with the heart-wrenching "Balada Conducatorului" - a remembrance of the sad days of Ceausescu. It's also brilliantly filmed.

I haven't heard anything by Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares that has instrumental accompaniment - this music has its roots in a cappella field singing and probably isn't what you're looking for, despite its great beauty.

I have to mention Márta Sebestyén, a Hungarian singer - and probably one of the best singers living - who's experimented with lots of music from the, uh, Greater Hungarian area. This includes nearly lost Transylvanian songs, lost Jewish music from Maramures and more. (I saw her this summer performing psalms with two guys - incredible.) The song linked is from "The English Patient," but her voice might give you some idea; within her world, her ouevre is remarkably diverse.

I'm not a real purist, but I find Gogol Bordello to be sad, cartoon music. It might be entertaining on its own, but most people actually seem to believe it's got something to do with "Gypsy" music beyond the appropriation of image and the theft of some riffs. I suspect they mean well, but to me, it's like dressing up in blackface to play "Negro" music, and it's entirely misleading.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 6:30 PM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You might be possibly referring to Ederlezi, by Goran Bregovic.
posted by _dario at 3:57 AM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

arranged by Goran Bregovic.
posted by _dario at 3:59 AM on January 30, 2009

Response by poster: That's totally it, dario - thanks.

And thanks also Dee for your completely awesome comment - all of those groups are beautiful and I look forward to working my way through them.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:44 AM on January 30, 2009

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