Whether you’re feeling thumping EDM, cinematic swells or simply the soundtrack for sad girl summer, the Romanian music scene has it all. From the perfect track to spice up a wedding playlist or dance barefoot in the rain, here are WAT’s top picks of Romanian folk music. (Spotify playlist can be found at the bottom of the article.)
Mădălina Pavăl – 100 DE PLOI
Spanning 5 minutes, Pavăl takes us on a journey twisting and turning through cinematic flutes swelling into epic strings and lively folk solos. It calls to mind the ethereal sound of Laura Marling and Agnes Obel, and the title translates to 100 rains. 100 de ploi is the debut track from her new release Roiesc (to swarm) that draws on Bukovina folklore with urban rhythms.
IRINA RIMES, DAVID CIENTE – Ielele
There’s no holding back, Ielele goes in hard. A thudding EDM techno beat paired with a primal chant (think Go_A or Laboratorium Pieśni) about nature and life’s hardships. When the track was debuted at the Red Bull SoundClash event, Rimes and Ciente were joined by the Moldovan folk ensemble Surorile Osoianu and nai (panpipe) player Damian Drăghici, bringing the energy to another level. Whether it be Egypt’s Adam Seliman or Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, it seems no one can get enough of an epic flute hook. The video was so popular it’s since been made the song’s official music video.
ANA COMAN – Colaps
Hazy and magical, Coman sings about the pain of an on-off relationship. The singer-songwriter’s soft voice with its occasional cracks and the shimmering guitars poignantly encapsulate the sad and confused walk home in the rain. Coman released her debut album 9 Missed Calls in 2020, which was mostly all written in English. Since then she’s switched to releasing in her native Romanian, explaining in an interview that she couldn’t always find a translation for her deeper feelings.
Subcarpați – Mândra Mea
Mândra Mea is based on Romanian folklore, the man mourns that the woman he loves is getting married to another. Then the bride-to-be, sung by Milculescu, explains he should’ve paid more attention to her. The instrumentation is minimal based around an unchanging beat that mirrors the sad circles traced by the main singer Ambăruș who repeats the verses. Mândra means proud (feminine) but in old Romanian it can also mean a young, usually unmarried girl (the English equivalent would be something like ‘fair maiden’) (shout out to the Youtube comments section for the translations).
FANFARE CIOCARLIA – First Aid Klezmer [DUNKELBUNT] REMIX
The 12-piece Romani Balkan brass band hail from the northeastern Romanian village of Zece Prăjini. They originally started out as a local wedding band until they were discovered by German sound engineer Henry Ernst, who helped bring their music to a global audience. That was in 1996, and since then they’ve toured the world and released seven studio albums. Vienna-based producer [dunkelbunt] takes a fresh look at their 2021 hit First Aid Klezmer, it becomes a swaying Jenga pile of layers that dials up to a breakneck speed.