From all accounts, Romania in the late 70s and early 80s was a tough place to be a prog-rock musician. Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had his Communist party goons kicking the heads of longhaired hippies and intellectuals while reasserted neo-Stalinist policies meant that it was illegal to own a typewriter without an official licence.
But it was in this tense political and social environment that Rodion Roșca and his band Rodion G.A began fusing distorted synth riffs and Krautrock rhythms on a set up of Tesla tape machines, guitar, drum machine, synth and a Soviet-made Faemi organ.
It’s music that brings to mind Kraftwerk, Tubeway Army, Pink Floyd and Faust and led to Rosca being hailed as the Syd Barrett of Romania and Romania’s answer to Giorgio Moroder”. Recorded at the height of Ceausescu’s suppression and censorship this was truly radical and dissident music.
The music on an upcoming Rodion G.A album Behind The Curtain - The Lost Album was feared missing since 1987 when Rodion turned his back on music, following the death of his mother.
Now in his 60s and suffering from liver cancer Rodion took some time to answers questions about the Romanian musical and political situation at the time.
Noisey: The rediscovered music was recorded between 1980 and 1983. Had Ceaușescu shut down the radio stations and TV stations by then?
Rodion Rosca: Ceausescu, who destroyed my youth and my life, among other peoples, was not interested in shutting down the radio and TV stations because those were the main channels for his propaganda. In the latter years of his reign TV had been reduced to only two hours a day, 8 to 10 pm, and this included two almost interminable news bulletins. He, and his wife, including the government “invented” a legislation, to forbid citizens to use and promote in Romania any occidental arts, sounds, aggressive rhythms, fashion, culture and rock music.
So Ceaușescu himself wasn’t a fan of your music?
Surely not! Ceausescu was a just a peasant. He mostly liked folklore music, or Romanian ethnic music. His wife Elena had an aversion and deep antipathy against anything that resembled modern music and all who supported it. But their children spent a lot of time among other young people, listening to and loving rock, disco, and pop music. Ceaușescu the elder had no chance of winning against this phenomenon, fighting against the will of his descendants, who loved the modern music with English lyrics.
Are the sounds of breaking glass on “Dans Macabru” meant to have any symbolism of Romania of the time or was it purely an affect?
When somebody is smashing an object or a piece of glass against the floor, at his home, it means that he is nervous, and that's enough for him! My music is both
expressive and illustrative. This music deserves to be much more expressive smashing an empty bottle against the floor, then adding that sound to
complete the music and transmit to the audience what I feel in my heart.
"Rodion G.A. - Behind The Curtain - The Lost Album" will be released on October 20 on BBE.