Behind The Curtain - The Lost Album
Rodion Ladislau Rosca grew up and got his musical education in Cluj, the third biggest city in Romania, during the relatively ‘open’ years of 1965-1972, before Ceacescu’s regime cracked down viciously on the cultural opportunities (and freedoms generally) available to the Romanian people. In this period he absorbed the influences that filtered through the Iron Curtain from the ‘decadent west’ and local eastern European musical traditions. Cluj had its own prog-rock bands, Cromatic and Experimental Quintet, and the music of the Beatles, Hendrix and Led Zep all found ready a ready audience there.
But Rodion’s tastes were more unorthodox still: he was drawn to electronic music, at that time still an exciting new possibility, represented by East Germany’s Karat, Czechoslovakia’s Matador and Hungary’s Skorpio, as well as bands from the west including Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Yes, and the inevitable Kraftwerk and what would become known as ‘krautrock’.
By 1975, in the harsher period, Rodion had amassed an eclectic selection of equipment and established a reputation as a DIY tech- wizard. He created his own unique way of creating music on reel-to-reel tape recorders, using the various tape machines to multitrack. His nascent studio included several Tesia tape recorders, drum machines, phasers, flangers and fuzz pedals. Then there were a toy Casio VL Tone and a Soviet made Faemi organ. He was joined by Gicu Farcas and Adrian Caparu in a band he had started, which then took the name Rodion G.A. Vocals, drums and guitars formed the core ‘rock’ elements but in every other way the music of Rodion G.A. was leftfield, unique and inimitable.
Recording opportunities in Romania were severely limited, with just the one state-owned record label (Electrecord), and a paranoid suspicion of ‘western decadence’ and censorship of those who might be seen to have adopted such traits. Rodion’s band concentrated on touring, from gigs in restaurants to the country’s festivals, where they built up a loyal following for their unique and inimitable sound. Otherwise, Rodion’s career consisted of commissions to score theatre, ballet, opera and gymnastics exhibitions, and, later, in the mid-‘80s, the animated film Delta Space Mission (though his music wasn’t used). At the beginning of the ‘80s his music was even featured on a Romanian TV show to usher in the New Year. A video shows a band, but Rodion has since explained that the music was entirely built by multi-tracking of himself with a guitar and FX pedals.
This fairly hand-to-mouth existence as a composer, and ambivalent relationship with the state (alternately feted on national TV and harassed by the police for alleged subversive tendencies) meant that it was difficult for this iconoclastic figure to secure a lasting legacy. Coinciding with the death of his mother Rozalia, a dispirited Rodion walked away from music after a festival appearance in 1987, and that could have well been that. It was only some 25 years later that film-maker, blogger and enthusiast for Romanian music Luca Sorin, tracked down Rodion, by now living in a secluded country cottage.
Through the auspices of Sorin and fellow enthusiasts Future Nuggets, Rodion’s music came to the attention of our friends at Strut, who last year released The Lost Tapes, effectively Rodion G.A’s debut album, to widespread critical acclaim. This was followed, on Record Store Day, by the release of his music for Delta Space Mission. Many have been very moved to discover the emotional electronic music of this reclusive, enigmatic genius.
A triumphant return to the concert stage –in Bucharest, Berlin and Moscow– and the long overdue recogniton granted Rodion G.A’s stunning music, has unfortunately been tempered by the sad news that Rodion Rosca is living with Hepatitis B and C and has liver cancer. Perhaps mindful of his legacy, Rodion has unearthed a good deal of old material, divesting countless boxes at his country cottage of their contents, painstakingly listening to his old tapes on an old reel to reel machine. Amongst this material was that we proudly present here: The Lost Album. The existence of a complete album by Rodion G.A was somehow known to many enthusiasts of Romanian and electronic music, even though even its creator was unsure of its fate. Rumours about confiscation by the secret police and such like abounded. The more prosaic truth, that it had simply festered indoors as Rodion had turned his back on his old calling, surprised even him!
What is clear is that The Lost Album will firmly cement the idea of a neglected genius, first intimated by The Lost Tapes, in the public view. Here at last is a complete set of music, as originally conceived by a figure who will surely take his place alongside the Enos, the Kraftwerks, the Gottschings, as a true pioneer of electronic music.
Sadly, Rodion Ladislau Rosca passed away in April 2021.