Music

Balkan Taksim Create Balkan Folktronica on "Zalina" (premiere)

Photo: Iustin Surpanelu

Balkan Taksim brings an insider perspective to modern Romanian music with debut folktronica track "Zalina".

The Carpathian traditions that inspire Romanian group Balkan Taksim are instantly recognizable on debut single "Zalina". As the electrifying bassline drives forward, it does so beneath the darbuka and other percussion of band member Cosmo. Soon, this is joined in equal measure by instruments old and new, Balkan strings and synthesizers that come together in psychedelic ecstasy. Flanking Cosmo's hypnotic analog rhythms are the digital production skills of Alin Zăbrăuțeanu, the two of them coming together to help realize a vision of past-meets-present as conceptualized by multi-instrumentalist Sașa-Liviu Stoianovici.

As the band describes the song, their lyrics certainly reflect an affinity for the timeless. "'Zalina' is about a strong-minded, beautiful girl and a man who is desperately in love with her."

Such simplicity perfectly complements the aesthetic philosophies underlying "Zalina" from start to finish. "Musically," the band continues, "the song epitomizes some of the directions we're pursuing, with its Romanian traditional vocals and keyboard stylings and laid-back yet dancefloor-oriented trip-hop electronics."

Everything about "Zalina" feels real, an insider's perspective on musical heritage and its place in modern electronic pop music. Spacey effects and winding melodies evoke the acid-washed Anatolian rock scene of 1970s Turkey, while the organic blend of eras make "Zalina" a perfect fit in the contemporary folktronica scene as a whole. Balkan Taksim may be firmly rooted in a specific local culture, but the way the group draws on old and new in a dynamic exploration of heritage places them alongside innovators like Nicola Cruz, Chancha Via Circuito, Gaye Su Akyol, Yasmine Hamdan... the list goes on, and Balkan Taksim makes a stellar addition to it.

Once, southeastern Europe was a prime target for early worldbeat culture vultures, sampling and exporting its sounds as exotica with little regard for many local artists. Balkan Taksim rejects notions of static preservation and presents its own point of view on the Romanian music zeitgeist. "Zalina" is the perfect introduction to the trio's vibrant, Balkan roots-based trip-hop.

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