Give Me Wine marks the twentieth anniversary of the legendary guardians of Olah gipsy music, Romano Drom. A national treasure in their Hungarian homeland, this sublime new chapter sees the five-piece band continue to revive the musical traditions of their forebears in new and unexpected ways.
‘a special touch of class’ Songlines
01 Hajdi Phrala 03:44
02 Kamavla Me 03:50
03 Kanak Kheles 03:55
04 Shunen Shunen 04:28
05 Ado Dyes 03:12
06 O Foro 03:11
07 Gelem Le Shavesa 04:13
08 Karing Te Zhav 03:03
09 Mol Mangav 04:25
10 But Te Trajisz 04:19
11 Gipsy Fantasy 04:26
12 Phirav 04:26
Total Playing Time: 47:12
For twenty years Romano Drom have been torch-bearers for contemporary gypsy musical culture. This sublime new chapter in their musical journey lays down a fitting anniversary marker, as the five-piece band continues to explore the music of the Hungarian Olah gypsies and revive it in new and unexpected ways.
Romano Drom means ‘gypsy road’ in the Romani language, and since the band’s foundation in 1999, they have travelled the four corners of the world, captivating audiences with their unique brand of gypsy heritage. Led by Antal Kovács who co-founded the group with his late father, the album combines reworkings of age-old gypsy songs with new compositions ranging from drinking songs and dances, to stories of love and hardship. Singing in their Romani mother tongue, the band’s music is characterized by an energy and heartfelt integrity all its own, as they continue to build bridges between their down-trodden ancestry and contemporary music.
Hungarian folk music is renowned for its vocal games, and central to the band’s sound is the traditional method of vocal jousts and interplay with rolling onomatopoeic sounds called “szájbögözés” and “pergetés”. Throughout the album, the band ingeniously mix sentences with scats to replace instruments on dance tunes. This can be heard to great effect in many of the upbeat numbers such as the title track ’Mol Mangav / Give Me Wine’, adding an unmistakable character and good-time vibe to the music.
Although the band’s musical heritage is primarily vocal, since the only instruments used by the Olah were everyday percussive objects such as spoons and churns etc, Romano Drom are unique in that they integrate powerful instrumentation with their guitars, accordion, violin and double bass bringing a never-before-heard element to the music. On Give Me Wine the band bring a new dimension to their sound with the inclusion of a string quartet adding further colour and texture. This is apparent on the beautiful ‘Gelem Le Shavesa’ where the strings set the scene for a father’s lament in which he sets out with the good intention of proposing his son’s hand in marriage to a beautiful young girl. When her parents refuse to give her away to such a poor boy, the father drowns his sorrows at the fair, where he ‘drank red wine with the gypsies’. The drinking theme opens the album with the upbeat ‘Hajdi Phrala’, where traditional vocal gymnastics accompany break-neck instrumentation in a lively drinking song, typified by the lyrics ‘I don’t ask for millions but one bottle of beer’.
With a modern approach to tradition, the many different influences on Antal Kovács song writing and arrangements are very much in evidence throughout the album, from the Spanish-tinged ‘Karing Te Zhav’ and ‘Shunen Shunen’ to the Arabic influences in the opening bars of ‘Gipstring’ and ‘O Foro’.The bands raw and impassioned Olah traditional vocal style conveys the full gamut of emotions, from heartfelt longing on ‘Shumen Shunen’ to absolute despair on ‘Karing Te Zhav / Which Way Shall I Go’, which depicts the struggles of the marginalised and impoverished.
In typical Romano Drom fashion, the songs seamlessly alternate between melancholy and festive, with love as a central theme running through the album. This is testimony to the bands strength of character and optimism as they strive to break down the negative stereotypes often associated with their culture. On Give Me Wine Romano Drom reminds us of why they remain a beacon of hope for the people they represent, as they pay respect to their musical forefathers and re-invent their music in a positive and modern setting.