Minimal and deep with Romania's NTFO

‘Ro-minimal’ is the often used term to describe the unique blend of minimal techno and micro house crafted within Romania’s boarders. Pioneering DJ / producers Rhadoo, Inspirescu and Raresh worked within a tight knit community to build early iterations of the sound throughout the 90s and 2000s. But it wasn’t until 2006 when the wider world began to take notice, thanks largely to Chilean-born techno trailblazer Ricardo Villalobos. Booked to play an event in Bucharest with Raresh as the opener, Villalobos was so impressed with the encyclopaedic musical knowledge of the local producer / DJ that upon returning to Germany he advised Cocoon (his booking agency at the time) to immediately add Raresh to the roster.

Then in 2007, a much-needed platform for the rapidly growing home-grown sound was created with ‘Sunwaves’ festival. A 5 day festival on the picturesque Black Sea Coast in Mamaia, it’s quickly garnered international attention for it’s excellent lineups, lengthy sets and passionate crowds.

As the Ro-minimal sound keeps evolving, it will no doubt continue to be characterized by it’s strong local community and eclectic, drawn-out sonic modulations. And today’s guests- NTFO, certainly fits the bill as being a continuation of this dynamic, minimal Romanian sound.

The duo’s recent release ‘Dobr’ serves as an excellent entry point not only into this unique minimal sub-genre, but also into their already rich personal discography. The EP opens with the title track ‘Dobr’ establishing the clean and technical approach that unfolds throughout release. With just the right amount of coloration within the mechanical framework, Dobr EP is a shining example of not only the underground electronic scene in this region of the world but also of two experienced musicians at the peak of the powers.

Grab the EP- vinyl and digital

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Modulations from the future with Romania's 'Electrons in Slow Motion'

Electrons in Slow Motion (EISM) is a cross-genre electronic project developed by Bucharest-born artist/producer Marius Copel. Combining analog synths with sparse soundscapes, Copel weaves immersive audio environments rich in dissonant drones, field recordings, and far-off arpeggiations. One part sci-fi dream world and one part distant dystopian universe, EISM dabs from his monochrome palette to create a sound that is uniquely his own.

His recently released debut album ‘Ecstatic Technologies’ boils down these central themes and concepts into a cohesive 8 track journey into the abyss. The album opens with ‘Breaking Eleusis’ which Marius describes as a “virtual pilgrimage to an ancient site”. Electronic chatter contrasts with reverb-soaked keys to slowly draw the listener into this mysterious and enigmatic world. The journey continues through a number of environments ranging from the subdued sounds of ‘Nyonoksa’ to the more tumultuous, beat-driven ‘Satomi’.

I would even go so far as to call the release a kind of ‘concept album’ as the tracks flow so well together and feature a steady narrative throughout. Marius describes the tracks as some sort of “sonic vehicle” or “machine” each with a unique initiation stage, environment and context. Regardless of the descriptor, ‘Ecstatic Technologies’ by Electrons in Slow Motion shows us that perhaps the future is closer than we think.

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