Press release "450 de OI"

The Making-of Zdob [shi] Zdub - "450 sheep"


The last album released by Zdob [shi] Zdub is the much-expected album entitled "450 sheep". This latter is a concept-album that is perfectly aware of how to sell its own secrets. Long gone is the phase of pure hardcore music, with American influences, as well as the agricultural rituals from "Agroromantica". In the fall of 2003 we talk more about sheep, shepherds, casa mare and we are telling lots and lots of tales.

We are entering a new evolution phase of the band, where their tribal identity is maturing and molding. The Zdubs have focused all their inspiration, have called to their side their dear friends and they sang what they saw. So far, there is nothing new to that. The novelty makes an entrance with us telling you that " 450 sheep " is the kind of album you will seldom come across. Elements of hardcore, ethno and mystical reverberations are at home in all of the songs, leading to a unique final outcome.

The tribe was inspired by their ramblings through the native places and by old folk themes that must be retold to every generation. Along their journey, the members of the Zdub band have gathered a lifetime experience and enough energy to make a whole new album. After they tired from wandering across the remote corners of their homeland, they started to sing.

The cosmic fiddlers gathered and made "casa mare". Some have come down from the sheepfold and others got back from fishing. They interviewed shepherds, persuaded choruses of maidens and befriended MC Vasile. Obviously, it turned out to be a great show and the entire neighborhood knows it. The world will find out and will rejoice.

We'll let the grass from "Agroromantica" wilt and we'll head on joyfully into a new epoch. The epoch of the 450 sheep has started and this time we'll be talking shepherds and shamans. Modern shamans collect meanings and pass them along, as their job is to recount what they've seen and what they have understood from a mystical perspective.

There are a good many songs on this album and each of them tells its own story. The tales were made from the same dough kneaded of white wheat and speak among themselves. The true and hard meanings of life can also be told in a joyful manner. And that's what the 450 sheep are doing. They raise their foreheads towards the sun and tell what they know.

the making

All members of the Zdub band, because it's them we are talking about right now, share a great passion, and namely - fishing. Several times during this year, especially in spring, they've gone fishing to the Southern part of Moldova, a land they find both as mystical and rich as the Prut region.

Be that on Nistru River or on the Ghidighici lake (located close to Straseni, the native town of both Mihai and Roman), or on any other bog, the tribe member is there talking in the tales and stories. And the conversations run long. But shepherds also know how to fish. One of them is Tudorica, a drum-maker indigenous to the Prut delta. He specializes in making drums from sheepskin, according to an old tradition. He also made a drum for the Zdub guys. Shepherds are the ultimate resource for all sorts of long-forgotten methods and for a folklore abounding in rituals and ewes. That's basically the source of inspiration.

The leading theme of the "450 sheep" album is the shepherd and everything that is instilled in this ancestral profession. It fills our minds with images of beautiful sheep, lots of them and speaks to us of the loneliness the shepherd dwells in, as he grows wiser. The shepherd is, in a way, a mystical being and the Zdubs have succeeded very well in capturing all the rhythms and meanings this entails. The shepherd is, however, a punk. But enough with the theories:

Here are the main components of making this album, from the building of the sheepfold to the combing of wool, all glued together like the pieces of a single melody, like some mantras.
Intro - 450 sheep

A chorus of 44 girls (no more, no less), all of them aged under 12, which was recorded in a studio of the National Radio of Moldova. And, although you don't believe in coincidences, the number of this studio is indeed #450 and it has an area of exactly 450 square meters. This is a melodious introduction, but it won't let you slumber after you've heard it for the first time.

Goviadina - Cacurica's Sarba

What do you mean, Cacurica who? Cacurica of Clejani, the old fiddler that is bald and toothless. The guys enjoyed so much the songs played by the Haidouk's Folk Band that they couldn't resist making a hardcore version of this fiddler's song that originally was just a melody sang by someone, accompanied by a "pinched" violin. 2-3 rehearsals and the song was ready. Is this a ballad? Maybe a mating song:We have no clue.
Anyway, the bang heard at the beginning of the song was added later, in the studio. This is a perfect song for live shows when everyone will shout "Jump, jump, jump" when the refrain will start. And everybody will get in the mosh pit, just like making love.


A hardcore ethno shouting - the song is entirely composed by Mihai, and Roman wrote the lyrics finding his inspiration in their specific zdub-lifestyle and in some songs for children. Even if the theme was born in Mihai's groove-box as a mix of samples, the riffs have evolved just "like in Basarabia". Missy Elliott has also been invited, you'll see how. Definitely a "jump-around" melody, with excellent trumpet parts and awesome hardcore guitar solos. Victor's flute and Valerica's trumpet are introducing themselves just when you expect them, keeping up Roman's hip-hop freestyle. You already knew that we all have grafitti on the walls - Z.D.O.B. In Moldavia everything sings...

Ciobanas (The Shepherd)

Spending every day with his sheep, and every night with the babes, our sheperd also has Adidas shoes and a mobile phone. He's a smart one, he likes Sepultura ("Roots" - the refrain) and he doesn't like sweet cheese. Here's a powerful song, sang with a wall full of Marshalls, and a very melodic drum beat, combined with a flute and a bagpipe solo. Our sheperd, when he gets his work done, spends his evenings singing for his loved ones.
The song was supposed to appear on the "Tabara Noastra" LP (in a much more folk version), but right now it perfectly fits with the "450 sheep" album concept, the second half of the song being a techno break-beat a la Prodigy. Maximum dialogue. The party may begin - and all the dear ones are invited to be kissed all over.

Everybody in the casa mare

For years, the Zdubs were hard banging their drums, playing their moldavian hardcore guitar songs and they wished us a "hopa-diridai" gooood morning, but the time of the "casa mare" has finally arrived. They dream about our lives and they plan to rap along with Johnny Depp when all the universe will be a huge gathering - a "casa mare"-cosa nostra - cosa tare. From the start till the end the melody is a celebration of life, the disc is spinning with a gipsy hat on it.
They met MC Vasile (Vasile Dinu from the "Iagalo" band of fiddlers - in the villages of Mirsha and Clejani) some time ago, and they thought to have him invited on their album. MC Vasile's voice is so unique that the fiddler/hardcore featuring is something you can't forget. We all know the rest of the story - the song was composed right there in the studio in just five minutes. The Russian version was recorded with the support of "the master of proletarian jazz" - Garik Sukaciov. Even if Garik is not a fiddler as MC Vasile is, the intensity and joy of the song are the same.

450 de oi (450 sheep)

Here is the second encounter with the "Lacrimosa" girls choir, and also with MC Vasile. Strig-Hop - the song is a melancholic one, a ballad which finds its roots in archaic folklore. It's a pacifistic, calm and shamanic song, with a positive message and a hip-hop vibe. When he was recording it, Roman was standing in dim light, partially naked and surrounded by candles, to "get in the mood" and to open his charkas for the recitative he was about to offer the world.
The refrain is hippie; the whole ambient is relaxed and also a little surrealist with the help of MC Vasile's lines and all the maidens' voices. The closing lines of the song - "Where the hound guards the sheep / Where the grass does not grow / Where the sun does not shine / There / Where the flock heads towards the Heavens: / 1, 2, 3" were written just few seconds before the actual recording. Mihai had just returned from Fagaras (Balea), Romania, and noticed that, even if the grass of the pastures was arid, the hounds were still guarding the herds in some timeless space. The sheep are, obviously, alright.

DJ Vasile

This is the first song they started to write for this album. At the beginning Roman couldn't find the right style to perform it, and the blending of the drum'n'bass rhythms with the flute and all those scratches came later. Just imagine an old miller owning a Gibson in his closet and starting to perform just after he has finished flouring the grain.The turntable spins just like his miller wheel and the Osoianu sisters (from the Moldavian Talancuta ensemble) are there too, to celebrate the cooking of the bread and the coming of peaceful times. We also find Anatol Stefanet (from the ethno-jazz trio Trigon) with his viola. And, even if the song seems to be a folk one, you'll be amazed to know that, in fact, the Zdubs entirely composed it. Obviously, even Moby would be pissed off if he found out.

Cuculetul (The Cuckoo)

This is another hip-hop "jump-up" song, with disco flavor and archaic lyrics. The instrumentation made by Mihai is wisely blended with folk themes also performed by the Taraf De Haiduks. Roman and MC Vasile are free styling again, like a dialogue through centuries and generations: the gipsy fiddler and the urban, contemporary one. Don't be intrigued, because, as a matter of fact, the hip-hop wasn't born "in the ghetto", but in the barnyard. These vocal techniques are archaic ones, used by most of the old fiddlers. "Romala" just learned this craft from them. A happy song, which make us forget all the troubles. The cuckoo has a rasped voice - maybe he has some reasons to be "blue"...

Nunta extremala (The Extreme Wedding)

Maybe the most important "trip" of the adult, the wedding is an excellent opportunity of a cosmic union, isn't it? In Moldavia, though, and especially in the Zdubs Tribe, the "casa mare" becomes something of an extreme, a huge party where everybody (even the goats) is dancing on the table. Any Johnny and Mary should invite the Zdubs to sing at their wedding, to beat the big drum for al least three days and three nights.
The bride must be stolen by chosen wedding guests and taken all the way to Los Angeles or Seattle, where the sun never sets. Obviously, as a reward for the girl, the Zdubs should go in the USA for a tour. The thief is extremely wise, though, and he wants to keep the bride for himself, because this what he understood by "extreme wedding". The two of them should live happily ever after.
Seriously speaking, who has ever seen a wedding without fiddlers equipped with Marshalls without the "dance of the bride" or all the wedding rituals? I can tell you - there is no regular wedding - all of them are extreme ones:

Cucusor (The Little Cuckoo)

There is a lot of mystic in this song - crossing the thin line between old chants and trance. The original song, which Roman heard on some old traditional songs anthology, couldn't be missed by the Zdubs, so they started to re-arrange it. Here we have heavy drums, Roman's mantras, a never stopping balance and archaic lyrics. The guitar breaks the rhythm from time to time or pinches the monologue. The boys like to talk about an ethno-trance re-arrangement of the folk theme, preserving the basic rhythms and reinforcing them by remembering us that the patterns are all alike - the old and the new ones. The modern shamans are as wise as the old-fashioned ones.

Ciobanul vrea sa se desparta de oi (The shepherd wants to part with the sheep)

Technically speaking (but who cares?) this is called an "outro". The exit of the album is an instrumental and recitative sing-song. If the Shepard has taken care of his sheep all along an almost initiator journey, at the end he must part them, in a simple but important rite. Pipes, open-mic theatre in the studio and old school improvisation. Sergiu Teaca (their much acclaimed sound engineer) plays the bass guitar with a progressive touch.


Everybody in the casa mare (live)

This version was recorded during a concert which took place in Piatra-Neamt on the 15th October 2003. MC Vasile sings his vocal part with one octave upper than usual, so the boys must sing along with him, like all the good fiddlers do. So, the song is literally a different version than the one recorded in the studio.

video "Everybody in the Casa Mare"

This video is different from the others especially through the "alternative" approaching of the creative process. We decided not to ask for help from professional producers, and not to spend money on the 35 mm film. We decided to make a video clip in the "Home Video" style. For the experiment we have chosen a new song, "Everybody in the casa mare", sang together with the vocal from "Iagalo". Our friend Egor Branza was the director, the cameraman and the stylist of the video.We didn't plan anything at all and the ideas, which came to us spontaneously, were immediately recorded on a digital cam. So we decided to put on some funny clothes and film at our place, the studio of rehearsals. The images were cool, but something seemed to be missing:someone proposed us to film in the Cricova wine cellars. Said and done! Through the obscure tunnels of the winery we organized a bike and scooter race, screaming as loud as we could "pour the wine and give us food:!"Our demands were taken seriously into consideration and we were treated with wine from the Cabernet collection. To accomplish our creation we left for Bucharest, where, at the Village Museum we filmed old man Vasile, the vocal from Iagalo, singing the chorus of the song. After the montage we obtained a little movie on which we didn't spend a penny, but which mirrors our mood exactly as we wanted.
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