Fanfare Ciocărlia

Fanfare Ciocărlia

The nineteen (and counting) members of Fanfare Ciocărlia (photo © Arne Reinhardt)

Have you ever wondered what a blog might sound like, or in this particular case what the From Filmers to Farmers blog itself might sound like? Until mid-2016 I certainly hadn't, but after hearing for the first time what I would have otherwise deemed impossible-to-conjure sounds, it soon dawned on me that if I could transform the words of this blog into music that it couldn't possibly get any closer than the sounds belted out by the monsters of brass themselves, Fanfare Ciocărlia – what I now deem as the (unofficial) soundtrack to From Filmers to Farmers.

Who is this Fanfare Ciocărlia that I've described as peak music and which you've otherwise likely never heard of? Well, they're a bunch of former subsistence farmers from Romania – former Gypsy subsistence farmers from Romania to be precise – who while having been together under the Fanfare Ciocărlia moniker since 1996 actually harken back much further, what with their craft having been learned as children while listening to their fathers and uncles in the backyards of their secluded village of Zece Prajini, those fathers and uncles having done the same with their elders a generation earlier, a process that has repeated itself over the decades (if not the centuries) and which in turn allowed for the inhabitants of Zece Prajini to earn the well-deserved reputation of being the most revered wedding musicians in the land.

That of course sounds like a nice make-believe story you'll see in a quaint little movie with subtitles, but Fanfare Ciocărlia are in fact as real as it gets, and you can read more about Fanfare Ciocărlia's origins in the first post of mine in which they appeared, a post that touches on the fact that their small Romanian village of Zece Prajini, their way of life, and their music, was terminally threatened upon the collapse of the Soviet Union. A tragedy that would have been, because although vitrines themselves ultimately amount to nothing, Fanfare Ciocărlia's does nonetheless include such things as having played for a Nobel Peace Prize concert (representing Eastern Europe, mentioned in this post) and having been commissioned by Sacha Baron Cohen to put together a version of Born to Be Wild for a movie of his (which can be heard via this retrospective post). Moreover, their albums also seem to have an unshakeable habit of being recognized with all sorts of awards, including their most recent, Onwards to Mars!

So while I've proven to be incapable since mid-2016 of tearing myself away from listening to virtually anything else besides Fanfare Ciocărlia (the one exception being a Colombian band they've played and recorded with and which I listen to while going out for a run), that isn't to suggest that I do so in order to draw inspiration (although having Fanfare Ciocărlia coo in my ears while I write certainly can't hurt). On the contrary, and if I may be so bold as to suggest, perhaps the reason for why I listen to Fanfare Ciocărlia so much is due to the unintentional parallel. Because while one has to have a certain constitution to have accepted the collapse of industrial civilisation as well as to write about it (and read about it, dear reader), in somewhat of a parallel there's no going around the fact that one's got to have some seriously monster-sized cojones to play music the way Fanfare Ciocărlia plays music.

Likewise, over the span of Fanfare Ciocărlia's nine albums and two greatest hits compilations only two of those haven't included a rendition of a song sung by Romania's late Maria Tănase, singer of some of the most haunting music you'll ever hear. Onwards to Mars! includes renditions of two songs that Tănase has sung ("Trenul, Masina Mica" and "Un Tigan Avea o Casa" if you'd like to be spooked by Tănase), which after Fanfare Ciocărlia have gotten through with them not only end up retaining the haunting sound of Tănase but end up utterly dripping with the (non-ironical) joy and humour that perhaps no one does better than these uncanny Romanian musicians. Although you'll have to hunt down Fanfare Ciocărlia's rendition of "Un Tigan Avea o Casa" yourself if you'd like to give it a whirl, here they are doing Tănase's "Trenul, Masina Mica" via a slide show they put together of images from their village and performances (which is the closest you'll ever see From Filmers to Farmers come to embedding a video):

With those haunting sounds in mind, which are nonetheless bursting with joy and humour, is there not only no better way to sum up the nitty-gritty-ness of life in a dozen words or less than "haunting yet full of joy and humour", but also any music that comes closer to the apocaloptamism you'll find throughout From Filmers to Farmers than that delivered by the bunch of former nitty-gritty subsistence farmers themselves, Fanfare Ciocărlia? I certainly think not.

Anyway, while you can find much more about Fanfare Ciocărlia via their website, Facebook page, Twitter page, Bands in Town page and Songkick page, to go along with the several posts I've already written in which they've appeared (you can see From Filmers to Farmers' Fanfare Ciocărlia tag for an overview of those), I'm happy to say that you can also expect to see Fanfare Ciocărlia making repeated appearances as this blog meanders through its array of topics, topics peppered with a bona fide helping of apocaloptamism.

Yes, dear reader, you did in fact read that right:

Fanfare Ciocărlia on From Filmers to Farmers!


Jawboning on the collapse of industrial civili­s­a­tion & the renewal of culture. READ MORE