Thursday, March 23, 2017


It's not always about the sound of a particular song or the type of music that sucks you in. There are other factors you might take into consideration. When you're young you're often drawn to a band that looks cool, and wanting to seem as cool, you adopt their style as your own if only to have something rub off on you. Sometimes you're drawn to a particular band because you want to hang with the other people who follow them, what you perceive as a cool crowd. Sometimes you can't put your finger on why you are drawn to something.

In the case of Romanian singer Sandu Ciorba, the self anointed "King of Gipsy Music", I can tell you why I'm drawn to him. When I watch his videos I can't look away. As far as I can tell, Ciorba is a competent singer. I'm no Roma music expert, so I can't tell you if the music he makes is faithfully traditional or not. Because some of it has a beat similar to dance music, I would guess that he delves into updated Romanian jams. Actually, when I watch his videos, the music is almost secondary. I've sampled several, and from beginning to end every one is, well, total WTF. Not because there is anything alarming. It's just that they seem to have been made in a vacuum, without any awareness of more sophisticated videos or anything current, despite the fact that some of were made as late as 2015. This one was my introduction. After watching the whole thing, trying to make sense of it, I was sucked in.

It would be easy to make fun of Ciorba's videos. There is an abundance of women in short skirts and a handful of shirtless bruisers (that bring to mind Vladimir Putin in his vanity shots), and a lot of extras, dancing, flexing, shaking and gesturing this way or that. The dancing style is foreign to me, I'll leave it at that. Besides Ciorba and his cast of extras, another big star of some of the videos is the green screen, which seems to be the favorite tool of the director. That and the jagged editing. But, damn. Dude loves the green screen.

What of Ciorba himself? He has a bit of a gut, scraggly hair and in almost every video a wrinkled shirt that looks like it was pulled from the laundry pile, unbuttoned to mid-chest. He carries himself as if he was the Tom Jones of Romanian Gypsies. Who knows, he might be. Like I said, it might be tempting to make fun of his videos, but I prefer to look at them in a different way. Watch them and imagine that they came from a David Lynch film. David Lynch meets Benny Hill. Lettin' it fly. What I really dig about him, his videos, his cast of characters and the green screen is that they sucked me in with their undefinable weirdness. When that happens, I tip my hat, and I don't ask questions.

Sandu Ciorba - Pe Cimpoi mp3 at Internet Archive
Sandu Ciorba - Dalibomba mp3
at Internet Archive

Sandu Ciorba -  Lady at YouTube
Sandu Ciorba - Camau at YouTube
Sandu Ciorba - Istanbulu'
at YouTube Green screen gold
Sandu Ciorba - Mamaliga Cu Malai
at YouTube Jackpot!

NOTE: There are plenty more at YouTube, each one special in their own way.

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