obal alba

A Gathering Of Strangers


Mule Satellite Records / 2010
Genres: ethno, electronic, world music, dance
CD $ 16.05
MP3bitrate 256-320 kbps $ 10.57


UNITE>A GATHERING OF STRANGERS is a project conjured up on a cold night somewhere in Central Europe by HAMID MAN TU and TIM WHELAN from the UK based multi-ethnic multi-musical collective TRANS-GLOBAL UNDERGROUND. UNITE stands for URBAN NATIVE INTEGRATED TRADITIONS OF EUROPE. Taking stock of their group of collaborators and co-conspirators across Europe, they were looking to create something that reflected both that network and the growth of the contacts and movements that have taken place over the time that Trans-Global Underground has moved back and forth across the continent.

Out of that came the idea of searching out songs about movement emigration and exile, and sending those songs themselves into exile, to have them apply for residence abroad, struggle with unexpected customs and accents and wander through the studios, bedrooms and DJ booths of Europe, with only a dog-eared, out-of-date passport to confirm their original place of musical birth.

Thus began a long process of researching in obscure music libraries, still more obscure corners of the internet, bars, hotels and what independent record shops the two could still find, contacting old friends and total strangers, some of whom have responded with interest, some with enthusiasm, and some who just thought they were barking mad and haven’t spoken to them since!

In Hungary,  BALKAN FANATIK  provided a wealth of traditional songs and ideas and then stood the whole thing on it’s head by transforming fragments of Irish and Scottish music into something totally electronic.

In Sofia, TGU  resumed their musical relationship with one of the countries most loved singers, YANKA RUPKINA, who has worked with Kate Bush as a member of the legendary Trio Bulgarka.

Back in London, they worked on a number of hybrid forms, once again involving Bulgarian artists but this time, in the other corner of Europe, a young trio working in the UK, the PERUNIKA TRIO, vocalist and well established solo artist JIM MORAY.

From the Czech republic comes the true story of VOSKOVEC AND WERICH, two Czechoslovak comedians, driven from their country by the nazis to a world of strange adventures in the west and the east. Remixed by Czech dubsteppers SIDE 9000, the track gave birth to other ideas that crop up throughout ‘A Gathering of Strangers’

By this time the entire project had grown it’s own legs and walked off into some unexpected directions. Ideas came in from all angles, from vocalist/multi-instrumentalist MARTIN FUREY in Ireland, from the enigmatic French breakbeat crew RECYCLER from the very funky Polish associates of the Warsaw Village Band, VILLAGE KOLLEKTIV, and  from a couple of dark basements in Prague,  AUTOPSIA and ACHTAR sent their lament for the passing of a whole way of life.

Most of the music here is some sort of journey; a journey of emigration, transportation, across land or sea and sometimes a journey of the original songwriters themselves. U.N.I.T.E>GATHERING OF STRANGERS itself is at the beginning of a journey...the journey to the eventual gathering itself. The route‘s  worked out and the album ‘Gathering of Strangers’ is the map, but we don’t know what any of the travellers are going to see and experience along the way. We hope the prospect of the journey excites you as much as it’s exciting us and that you’ll be joining us somewhere along the way.

Some notes about the music:

Eugenia Georgieva of the London based Perunika Trio,  sings a  traditional song from Bulgaria totally deconstructed and reassembled in London.

Jim Moray sings an English song about leaving a woman to join the navy. Nori Kovacs sings a Hungarian song about leaving to join the army

A Polish song about leaving for America sung by Village Kollektiv (associates of the Warsaw Village Band) with a bit of a Krautrock flavour.

Yanka Rupkina is probably the most celebrated traditional Bulgarian vocalist of all time, peforming with the Trio Bulgarka and Kate Bush besides having a long and colourful solo career. This is a new version of one of her best known songs in her own country.

It’d be hard to complete a project of this nature without featuring a song from the British Isles about transportation to Australia. There are endless variations of this song in existence from Scotland, England and Ireland. This version, sung and played by Martin Furey, is one of the best know but has probably never had an extra verse in Mandinka added to it.

DJ Lepe from Balkan Fanatik cooked this one up inspired by extracts of the Topic records album ‘Farewell My Own Dear Native Land’ and TGU added a number of extra elements later.

In a deliberate change of atmosphere and timeframe, Stuart Staples of Tindersticks kindly sang this Victorian ballad of an English miner missing the comforts of England. The song was a great success in its day and the lyrics were written by a certain Leo Dryden, a music hall performer known as the 'Kipling of the Halls' and today best remembered for running off with Charlie Chaplin's mother.

A section ‘Soldier song from’ gave rise to this new lyric. In the original the stranger is the Austrian army and the child a boy. The change of gender gives an even darker twist to the song.

The Perunika trio in a slightly more orthodox fashion….well it would be if there weren’t a bunch of Danes banging a load of percussion in the background. London to Copenhagen to Plovdiv

In later years, Voskovec was judged by the USA to be too much of a Communist, while, back in post war Czechoslovakia, Werich was judged to be not enough of one. You just can’t win sometimes. This mix is by Czech dubsteppers Side 9000.

A well known and often interpreted Hungarian folk song, recorded in Budapest with Nori Kovacs on lead vocal and a wonderful contribution from Ivan Barvacs on a four foot tall kaval.

In the 1930s, the duo Voskovec and Werich were two of Czechoslovakia’s best known comedians but their brand of satire got them into trouble with the Nazis and they were forced to go into exile.

Recycler are a tribal breakbeat crew from somewhere in the Paris region. Alexander Todorov and Apostol Georgieva are  2 musicians from somewhere in the Plovdiv region. Transglobal Underground stuck them together.

Created by Autposia and Achtar, about whom we know nothing except they’re from Prague.

Another song inspired by the collections of the good people of Topic Records, and normally a tragic nostalgic song that we gave a slightly more optimistic feel (we hope).


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