Mahala Raï Banda

Romanian gypsy band.
The story of Mahala Raï Banda begins at the end of the nineties with Aurel Ionita forming the group Rom Bengale in Bucharest. Their success had hardly begun – when this ensemble of young musicians was plagued and divided by addiction problems. Aurel Ionita then created the initial line-up of the Mahala Raï Banda – a name inspired by the Gypsy suburbs of the big Romanian cities – which released a CD on Crammed Discs in 2004. Now the band is back with its mix of Romanian musical traditions, oriental pop, rumba Catalan, reggae and manele, the Roma pop with ambigious commercial success.



Craw 31 Mahala Raï Banda - Mahala Raï Banda album art Mahala Raï Banda Mahala Raï Banda(CD, Album, Enh) Crammed Discs Craw 31 Europe 2004 Sell This Version
CD-ATR 2509 Mahala Raï Banda - Ghetto Blasters album art Mahala Rai Banda* Ghetto Blasters(CD, Album, Dig) Asphalt Tango Records CD-ATR 2509 Germany 2009 Sell This Version
Mahala Raï Banda - Lacrimă De Jar album art Monica Anghel & Mahala Rai Banda* Monica Anghel & Mahala Rai Banda* - Lacrimă De Jar (Album) OVO Music Romania 2010 Sell This Version
Mahala Raï Banda - Balkan Reggae  album art Mahala Rai Banda* Balkan Reggae (Album) Asphalt Tango Records Germany 2013 Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

none Mahala Raï Banda - Iest Sexy album art Shantel Vs Mahala Rai Banda* Shantel Vs Mahala Rai Banda* - Iest Sexy(CDr, Single, Promo) Crammed Discs none Netherlands 2004 Sell This Version
Mahala Raï Banda - Gypsy Beats And Balkan Bangers (Remix EP) album art Mahala Raï Banda / Shantel Mahala Raï Banda / Shantel - Gypsy Beats And Balkan Bangers (Remix EP) (EP) Atlantic Jaxx US 2006 Sell This Version
8714866752-3 Mahala Raï Banda - Mahalageasca album art Mahala Raï Banda Mahalageasca(CD, Single) Digidance 8714866752-3 Netherlands 2007 Sell This Version


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December 16, 2015
Mahala Raï Banda - Ghetto Blasters

By Johnathan Montelongo

Introduced with a saucy triplet of brass stabs and tickled bongo skins, Mahala Raï Banda's ‘Ghetto Blasters’, the new offering from Berlin-based Asphalt Tango Records, sets out to impress from the first inhalation. Once a form of niche celebration music from humble Romanian origins, this commercial recording aims to please many a western audience on a commercial level. Accompanied by a rigorous UK tour of explosive, party-style shows throughout October 2009, the typically eastern scales and lightening-speed polka rhythms are diluted with heavy soul, rock, ska, pop, swing and film-score influences and pristinely mixed to a dazzlingly clean finish.

The musicians contained were brought together by composer and vivacious stage-personality, Aurel Ionita, whose connections to the musical roots of this ghetto/gypsy-folk re-invention are the culminated product of a life spent devoted. A confident and charismatic brass section, comprising of members of Romania's Fanfare Ciocarlia, form the most fundamental instrumentation that carries almost every idea throughout the work. The foundations of these loud, rasping harmonies are then embellished by violin, electric guitar and accordion and pinned down firmly by a sole drummer, who sounds as though he possesses more arms that the Hindu Goddess Durga. The various vocalists on ‘Ghetto Blasters’, representing Macedonia, Bulgaria and even the south of France as well as native Romanian singers, manage to compliment each other while remaining stark opposites. Other than giving each appearance their own personality and originality, the different vocalists and collaborations breaks the album down into smaller pieces and, in sequence, the potential monotony that could occur from static instrumentation and tempos.

‘Zuki Zuki's’ funky break before accelerating into pre-ordained madness instantly stands out as an original idea due the juxtaposition of eastern and western sensations and emotions. Capable of stirring Carlos Santana into sounding his shiny PRS, 'Balada' opens with the soft, minor chords of a muted organ which introduces a melancholic voice. ‘Solo Para Tí’ (Just For You) opens with the quintessential familiarity of a Spanish guitar and could comfortably lay the way for a narration in Kill Bill. Opening like a Broadway musical in the '30s, the eastern intervals and instrumentation do not even venture near clashing with the New York jazz/swing influence of ‘Hora Din Mahala’, and the plunked honky-tonk piano is a treat for any appreciator of quirky sounds. Fans of reggaeton and ska will begin to hop from foot to foot to the off-beat choppy guitar of ‘Ding Deng Dong’, not to mention sing along to the song title in the chorus (you have to try it to understand). After the chromatic fall and rise of the intro to ‘Kolo Baro’, a stable pulse in dropped in, which gives this piece a slowed drum n' bass tempo, punctuated by syncopated stabs of brass.

The merger of traditional gypsy heritage with contemporary musical ideas and recording techniques might be seen by some to be a disruptive departure from its authenticity, but this album is not for those people. ‘Ghetto Blasters’ is an upbeat, up-tempo and uplifting collection of swift party-inducing songs whose eclectic and limitless boundaries will test the musicians' abilities to record further triumphs in the future. But of course, not before they're bored of lavish parties disguised as a promo tours.

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