Tuesday, March 29, 2011
V/A - Psychedelic Trip Through Bulgaria
And we're back in the former Eastern bloc, this time with a compilation of prime Bulgarian brainmelt. I'm often skeptical of these Nuggets-type country-themed psych compilations, which many times turn out to be nothing more than versions of early Rolling Stones tunes sung in Czech or Afrikaans or whatever. But this... This little collection covers that period from the very end of the '60s through the early to mid-'70s, when bands around the world were starting to break free of their Merseybeat chains and spending time locked up in their room/basement/practice space with a load of effects pedals, even more drugs (I'm just guessing here) and their amps cranked to 10. What's interesting about the rock music coming out of the Balkans at the time is that in many cases the only record label in the whole country was state-run (Balkanton in Bulgaria, Electrecord in Romania, etc.). In the stricter of the Communist countries, this meant no rock or Western-style music, period. But in the Balkans, if you mixed in a bit of folk melody or an odd time signature here and there, this was sufficient glorification of the people's heritage for the censors and you could get away with electrifying your music (and your audiences). And thus we have the music contained on Psychedelic Trip Through Bulgaria. While some of it is standard comp. fare (I mean, there is a Bulgarian-language cover of "(I'm Your) Venus," which, by the way, is great), there is also traditional polyphonic chant blasted into orbit, reverb-drenched Slavic proto-metal and enough other oddities to make this an essential listen.