|Rodion GA – (Rodion pictured far right)|
In Cluj, Romania, in the year 1975, a young man, Rodion Ladislau Roșca, in the throes of Nicolas Ceaușescu’s attempt to introduce a kind of North Korean-style communist cult control, whittled away DIY-style making some of the most unique grooves to come out of Europe. Defiant to his core, he could use whatever basic sound technology he had at his disposal to generate all sorts of modern electro-rocking futuristic jams. My track of the day “Stele si Lumini”, the only known live performance of his group Rodion G.A., presents in its own way, the summation of change Romanian society had to experience before attempting to connect with what Rodion wanted to accomplish. I know, heady concept but Rodion was a heady guy.
If, you have some time, visit this page (click here) and read up a bit on Rodion. He’s quite the interesting musician. Raised in Cluj a hotbed for Romania’s musical scene, during the time of Ceaușescu’s initial more reformist era, he experienced firsthand all the major western groups, or western-influenced groups, that could tour and released albums either by sneaking off to Hungary to buy albums or picking up radio stations playing that type of music. Jazz, prog, and psych groups were the type of bands that initially attracted him the most. As he grew up listening music from groups like Kraftwerk, Goblin, and other Romanian groups like Sfinx or Mircea Florian start the shift towards an electronic direction he did what he could to attempt to match or beat them to the punch as his own sphere of influence grew. Initially he was signed to the government run record label Electrecord, with the hope that he’d put out some nationalistic rock music. However, Rodion had other ideas.
Rodion, in his home studio, would rewire East German drum machines and Soviet-made electronic pianos to play more like sequencers and synthesizers that he could control. Overdubbing and using many tape manipulation effects, similarly to a lot of Krautrock groups like Can and Faust, he’d try to present his own form of electronic rock in a way the state-owned record label and couldn’t. What Rodion would do, is ask permission from a government sound engineer to send through his own tape machine a second version of all the audio coming through the state-owned mixing board which he would then re-record at home. For him, to overcome Ceaușescu’s imposing cultural rule that was the only he knew how to do so. He needed complete control/freedom over his own sound.
Just a sampling of this unique lo-fi attempt, blending electro-acoustic drum machines with severely manipulated guitars, makes it sound more inline with today’s modern take on electronic music as heard in Tame Impala (and bands of that ilk). However, its important not to forget that this is music done not out of total rebellion but out of the need to get your art out there regardless of any hangups. To learn that he had to quit performing because his mother died and he had no way to support himself other than to become an electronics repairman, is pretty disheartening. Its only now, decades after his pioneering work from 1978-1984, that Strut has made a cool enough compilation remastering some of his lost hits and finally getting this much older man the compensation, and more importantly, the notoriety and time to play the music he still loves and so wants to display again.
Bonus track, watch a great little mini doc by Strut Records below…
and then Rodion still rockin’ in his golden years performing “Cântec Fulger” from the recent “The Lost Tapes” comp…
p.s. a riveting read of what’s going on in his life now…click here for the article.