Looks like Italy, smells like Romania .. it’s Moldova!  A small, sparsely populated nation with a history of artistic censorship, but as usual there are musical delights that shine through the ages.  This week’s Moldovan soundscape features underground rock from the Soviet era, father-daughter folk & pop, Balkan-punk, hip hop, and amore.

Moldova: Yes, we've got castles

Moldova: “We’ve got big castles”

Here’s a sneak peak that comes with an odd slice of trivia.. the youngest pop star ever, Cleopatra Stratan:

I’m not even ashamed to say it; that’s a seriously catchy tune.

Hear the Moldovan Special HERE (part1) and HERE (part 2).

And also from this week’s broadcast, one of the most sublime re-issues of the year – 70s Zamrock band Salty Dog, hitherto unheard outside of Africa:

Climb the Black Mountain

Not so sinister, is it?

Not so sinister, is it?

This week we visit the 3rd youngest country on Earth, and also one of the smallest (born prematurely, or perhaps Serbia smoked during pregnancy) … Montenegro!  It’s still a mystery why the place is called ‘Black Mountain’, or why the rest of the world still uses the Italian name (real name: Crna Gora).  No matter, we have come for the music!

Montenegro as a nation-state is barely 7 years old, but the coastal Balkan nation has a discrete history that extends to a time well before its incorporation into the former Yugoslavia– heck, they even had a king.  It’s a bit complex (brain-draining) to get into the specifics of nationhood and identity, so let’s just say that the borders have changed but the musical masters have stayed.  Therefore, we shall not confine our soundsplash to post-2006 independence.  We would miss the formative years of Rambo Amadeus!

Bosnia Rocks at 16,000 Hz

A country of many intertwining traditions… The music of Bosnia is forever linked to the nations surrounding it, which together make up the former Yugoslavia.  This week we welcome our friends Bojan and Zoran to the program, a pair of fearless musical scholars who present us with the history of popular music in Bosnia.

BosniaDuring the 70s and 80s, Sarajevo was the mecca of rock music in the Balkans.  We’re talking stadium-sized guitar riffs and women screaming every word.  Need proof?

We share some of the best bands of this era,  the electric Gypsy sounds that came before it, the most influential composer of the 20th century, and amore.

Listen to the Bosnian feature here.

Listen to the global mix here.



The Slept-on Beauty of the Balkans

Her roommates get all the attention:  Serbia is known for its brass bands, Turkey, for its psych guitar-rockers, Romania, its gypsy folk music.. But Bulgaria (yes, she’s a lady– her middle name is Sofia) plays all of these styles with dignified grace.

Bulgarian history is amongst the richest in all of Europe

Bulgarian history is amongst the richest and most ancient in all of Europe

Oddly enough, the only internationally-known group from Bulgaria is a women’s choir (daringly named the Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir) whose album The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices was discovered by indie UK record label 4AD in 1986 (11 years after its original release) and unleashed into the global ear.  More albums and heroine addictions followed.  An unlikely story, but once you hear the sublime juxtaposition of angelic voices and dissonant harmonies, you’ll understand why Bulgarians are considered some of the best vocal-chordists of the human band:

Our sampling of Bulgarian sounds also features some blazing punk, classic rock ‘n roll, old school hip hop, new wave rumba, and the world’s most frenetic wedding band… they’ll have you puking on the dance floor in no time.

The Ivo Papasov Wedding Band. DO NOT touch his clarinet.

The Ivo Papasov Wedding Band. DO NOT touch his clarinet.