UNEARTHING THE MUSIC: Sound and Creative Experimentation in Non-democratic Europe

Upcoming Events


Past Events

Iancu Dumitrescu's 'Medium V' by Zach Rowden (Bucharest, 9.12.18)

Asociația Jumătatea plină’s UNEARTHING THE MUSIC debut event was a concert held in Bucharest on December 9, 2018, in partnership with MARe / The Museum of Recent Art

“We might just say it like this for the time being, as we choose to start by with the (re-)creation of a unique experience, which will then go online, where it will no longer be unique. The special acoustics of the room where we invite you to join us is already a medium in itself & will allow us to be as close as possible, metaphorically inside, the spectral doublebass, launched by this piece nearly 40 years ago, and brought back to life by an interpreter you ger than this piece. Look the piece up, the internet is ecstatic wherever variants of the piece are offered for listening, but being there live for it will be another level of hic et nunc.

Deeper in the motivation of the event: there is nowhere a version 1 of this piece. Why? We do not know, we’ll find out … The first recording we owe to the fantastic Fernando Grillo, and was published by Electrecord in 1982, then in 1987 it appears on the first album of the Berlin RZ Edition Edition, released again in a new version on the first disc of Modern Edition, founded by Iancu Dumitrescu in 1991. A manifest piece that has opened expression paths and traveled more than many other important pieces of that time.
But, who is Fernando Grillo? How did the song get to the West – uncensored in its over-beauty that could not be labelled modernism? Why was it on the first disc made by the composer when he was able to launch his own label?

Iancu Dumitrescu says that this piece: is a key for opening doors; was the first time that the expression “trying to move an ocean with the spoon” bestowed on him by Celibidache began to make sense; that it is an acousmatic revelation; that it is spectral music he noticed in the Romanian “bucium” music, and the double bass cord with its extraordinary lenght ressembles that, but also allows for micro-experiences, inspired by the folk “doina” music played on a leaf (not familiar? look it up); it’s like a high-temperature distillation of ancestral memory, gettingout of it a gas, a neo-brâncuşian medium, …
Medium is all this and an orphic retreat in the mountains, a post-dodecaphonic initiation, in any case.

If about Fernando Grillo’s interpretation, Iancu Dumitrescu speaks of secret, lyrical, auraolated, he promoses the version to be played by Zach Rowden will be chtonic and with alert bowing, but remain specific to the initiatory cultural primitivism imposed by the legacy of the piece.

Zach Rowden is a member of the Hyperion International Ensemble, an archivist and researcher of contemporary music scores, and a very active musician on the experimental stage of the east coast of America.

His many musical projects can be heard at

Cultural Opposition - Underground and Music (Budapest Institute for Musicology, 28.11.18)

A conference held at the Budapest Institute for Musicology on November 28, 2018, as a part of the COURAGE – Connecting Collections final project event, organized by project partners MTA-BTK.

Invited speakers included Loránt Bodi (representing both COURAGE and UNEARTHING THE MUSIC), Daniel Muzyczyk (project collaborator and curator at the Museum Sztuki Lodz, Poland) and Júlia Klaniczay from the Artpool Art Research Center in Budapest.

Full programme


13.00 – Music and Dictatorships/Non-democratic countries.

Unearthing The Music: Exploitation of COURAGE (Lóránt Bódi)

Unearthing the Notes From The Underground (Daniel Muzyczuk)

Postwar Musical Modernism in East and West (Marcus Zagorski)

13.45 – Discussion

14.00 – Tea & Coffee

14.15 – Collections and Underground

Disturbing the Peace: The Reception of Neo-Avantgarde Music in Hungary in the Early-1960s (Emese Kürti)

ARTPOOL: The Experimental Art Archive of East-Central Europe – An “Active Archive” Producing, Networking, Curating, and Researching Art since 1970 Júlia Klaniczay

14.45 – Discussion

15.00 – Concluding remarks

Z_XXV - 25 years of Zonic (Institut fur Zukunft. Leipzig. 09.11.18)

A Double Event celebrating 25 Years of Zonic: Notes From The Underground / Electronica Eclectica

Zonic, initially a fanzine, subsequently an almanac and currently a publication platform for “marginal cultural views and moments of involvement”, celebrates a quarter century and calls out to party in two parts.

First, Unearthing the Music and Notes from the Underground present the recently released collection of avantgardist culture behind the Iron Curtain, and published by Leipzig’s Major Label.

Jan Kummer and Frank Bretschneider, then members of absurdist electronic pioneers AG Geige from Karl-Marx-Stadt (whose early works’ re-release is also premiered that night), discuss that era, aided by historical media and interviewed by writer, journalist and AG Geige fan Frank Apunkt Schneider from Bamberg, followed by a conversation between Zonic’s editor-in-chief Alexander Pehlemann and Valery Alakhov, hailing from the Leningrad/St Petersburg group New Composers, who, since 1983, contributed tape cut-ups to the scene, soon advancing to become Soviet rave pioneers and later producing ambient albums with Brian Eno and Pete Namlook.

The conversation is followed by Valery Alakhov’s live renditions of New Composers material from the late 80s, and the project Karl-Marx-Stadt which presents approaches to 1980s sound material from Karl-Marx-Stadt.

This is followed by Electronica Eclectica at midnight, subtitled as Boogie, Bass & Brainsaw, a 2-floor dance party. Frank Bretschneider, releasing on his own Raster-Label as well as on Shitkatapult, presents current productions on the main floor, the 2nd act being Krystoff, the new alias of Jahtari-artist Rootah, who recently dabbled with technoid electronics.

In addition, Berlin-based DJ Bird of Al-Haca will spin alongside Cora S, famed for her diverse sets at the former club Ostgut.

Dystopian Scifi sounds will be heard on the ambient floor, featuring pB (aka Al-Haca in lead), Len8 (aka LXC from Alpha Cutauri), Maos Revenge Soundsystem from Nuremberg, and Jahtari’s main protagonist Disrupt, whose fresh album “Omega Station” will see its live debut that night.

More info here:

Z_XXV - 25 years of Zonic (Arkaoda. Berlin. 11.11.18)

Zonic & Unearthing The Music present ‘Notes from the Underground: Experimental Sounds Behind the Iron Curtain’

Zonic, initially a fanzine, subsequently an almanac and currently a publication platform for “marginal cultural views and moments of involvement”, celebrates a quarter century and together with Unearthing the Music and Notes from the Underground presents the recently released collection of avantgardist culture behind the Iron Curtain, published by Leipzig’s Major Label.

Zonic-editor Alexander Pehlemann will shortly introduce Zonic as well as contexts from the double album he compiled together with David Crowley and Daniel Muzyczuk, the curators of the exhibition with the same title presented earlier this year at the Academy of Arts in Berlin, which served as vantage point for the musical selection featured on the double vinyl.

This is followed by a conversation between Daniel Muzyczuk, main curator of Museum Sztuki in Łodz (Poland), Valery Alakhov from Leningrad/St Petersburg group New Composers, who are even featured twice on the compilation, and Berlin-based cultural scientist Hannelore Fobo, who will discuss the fascinating scene in 1980s Leningrad, where The New Composers drew attention with their experimental and humorous tape cut-ups, worked with Timor Novikov, E-E Kozlov and Sergey Kuryokhin, became Soviet rave-pioneers (even including a scent of late Soviet queerness), and later even produced ambient albums with Brian Eno and Pete Namlook.

This is followed by Valery Alakohv’s performance of unreleased New Composers-material from the late 80s, concluded by selekta pehle’s easily inflammable cocktail of industrial, post-punk or dub-jazz from the former Eastern bloc and eclectic electronics selected by his Al-Haca companion DJ Bird.

More info here:


OUT.FEST – The Barreiro International Exploratory Music Festival is an annual event celebrating experimental music in all its forms since its inception in 2004. From improvised to electronic music to jazz and contemporary classical music, OUT.FEST brings together trailblazers and living legends with the present and the future of groundbreaking experimental music every year in Barreiro.

The UNEARTHING THE MUSIC project will be featured at OUT.FEST 2018 by way of concerts by Anton Nikkilä and Vladimir Tarasov on Friday, October 5th at Edifício A4 Baía do Tejo (free concerts). Find out more about these concerts and the festival at OUTFEST.PT.

Skaņu Mežs

Skaņu Mežs is a festival for adventurous (innovative, experimental, avant-garde, etc.) music. It happens in Riga, Latvia since 2003. The festival usually happens in the beginning of October, whereas one-off events by Skaņu Mežs happen more often.

Seeing as all forms of modern music have an experimental dimension, there is always a wide variety of musical genres represented at the festival – from electro-acoustic music, free improvisation, contemporary composition and noise to interesting shifts in dance music, hip-hop and rock or metal.

Skaņu Mežs is a member of festival network ICAS (International Cities of Advanced Sound) and a co-founder of the SHAPE platform as well as one of its two coordinators. SHAPE platform for innovative music and audiovisual art is supported by the “Creative Europe” programme of the EU.

The UNEARTHING THE MUSIC project will present a concert by Vladimir Tarasov at Skaņu Mežs. You can find out more at

Lisbon Conference (UMCSEET)


The Goethe Institut in Lisbon will host the event that signals the end of this project. Talks, screenings and live performances will take place in the 15th and 16th February, tackling different views on the experimental music scenes in Eastern Europe between 1957 and 1989.



Thursday, February 15th

15h00 – Trans Osteuropa Express by Chris Bohn & Alexander Pehlemann

15h30 – Underground and Beyond by Daniel Muzyczuk

16h00 – Between Underground and Official spaces (Moderated by Lucia Udvardyova – with Robert Lippok, Ronald Lippok, Alexander Pehlemann, Chris Bohn & Daniel Muzyczuk)

17h00 – Break

17h20 – Movie: Behauptung des Raums – Wege unabhängiger Ausstellungskultur in der DDR 

19h00 – Dinner break

20h30 – Movie: 15 Corners of the World 

22h15 – Concert: Alexei Borisov 

22h45 – Concert: Ornament & Verbrechen

Friday, February 16th

15h00 –  Chris Cutler interviewed by Chris Bohn

15h30 –  Alternative Czech Music in the 1980’s by Pavla Jonssonova

16h00 – Punk, counterculture, DIY & opposition

(Moderated by Tony Herrington – with Chris Cutler, Paula Guerra, Pavla Jonssonova, Alexander Pehlemann & Alexei Borisov).  

17h00 – Break

17h20 – Movie: East Punk Memories

19h00 – Dinner break

20h30 – Movie: Elektro Moskva

22h15 – Concert: Music by The Plastic People Of The Universe (with members from the Agon Orchestra and guests Chris Cutler, Vítor Rua, Carlos Zíngaro and Manuel Guimarães)

 You can find out more about all the concerts and films to be presented at the conference, as well as the participating speakers, by clicking here.