Beyond Beirut

Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 14:22 | Category : Uncategorized
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Last autumn a new colleague joined my team at work. He’s a record collector, so before long, the sometime mundanity of work was peppered with conversations about obscure music, all in happy competition with the neighbouring team’s telly talk. After chatting about Beirut at the end of last year, he introduced me to the music of Dona Dumitru Siminica, which is proper Eastern European folk music.

Dona Dumitru Siminica was a gypsy folk singer who performed in Bucharest in the 1960s. Like his father, he was a musician, who worked on a building site during the day and played restaurants and bars in Bucharest in the evening. He was respected by both Romanians and Gypsies because he unusually sang songs from both communities. The songs, which sound so mournful and otherworldly when sung in his unique falsetto are actually a lot more earthy than first appear. They’re drinking songs, laments and love songs. OK, they’re not cheery dance tunes, but they’re also not as esoteric as you may think. They just sound sorrowful.

The main place to get hold Siminica’s music is on a compilation called Sounds From A Bygone Age Vol 3, released on Asphalt Tango records last year. That’s the CD my colleague lent me, and since then I’ve kept going back to it. It’s remarkable stuff, though like a rich fruit cake, there’s only so much I can take at any one time. There’s only so much (apparent) sorrow I can cope with.

Download: Dona Dumitru Siminica – Cine Are Fata Mare
Download: Dona Dumitru Siminica – Afare E Intuneric

Buy Sounds From a Bygone Age Vol 3.

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