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Live / stage review

Hardcore Transylvanian dance music: Ando Glaso Collective at TalkingGigs

Scotland’s Roma music project dazzle Firth Hall with an eclectic selection of soul-searching torch songs and riotous dance numbers.

8 March 2024 at
P3082611 01
Don Murray.

Formed in Glasgow in 2019, the Ando Glaso Collective are a unique group of musicians dedicated to exploring a diverse range of Roma music originating from across eastern Europe.

During the conversational half of this TalkingGigs performance, the group’s musical director Janos Lang expresses his hope that they will one day be able to expand to become an entire Roma orchestra. In the meantime, and in between chat with TalkingGigs programmer Alasdair Dempster, Lang invites the Polish, Romanian and Slovakian sections of the band to the microphone in turn to share their local variations on this deep musical tradition.

The Polish performance highlights the group’s two lead singers alongside accordion and bass, while the Romanian section starts with plaintive, yearning violin before morphing into an upbeat dance tune thanks to Lang’s spirited playing.

After the Slovakian showcase brings acoustic guitar to the mix, Lang speaks of how the group aims to connect Scotland’s often isolated Roma communities to each other and to their shared “intangible cultural heritage”.

In the second half, like in ‘Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra’, we got to hear what it sounded like all together. The effect was more than the sum of its (already impressive) parts. With full nine-piece band in effect, the group launches into a series of classic Roma folk tunes and dance numbers. This is lyrical, full-bodied music, where the expressive violins pick out a vocal line even when nobody’s singing. The wandering basslines are especially enjoyable – the bass seems free to explore a full range of musical expression, untethered from its more pedestrian role in English folk culture.

The sharp-dressed group alternate between two modes: more reflective, soul-searching songs that benefit from the expressiveness of singers Mania and Diana Mastej, and more upbeat dance numbers that rattle along with a velocity and momentum that suggests they could play in perpetuity. The third tune adds rich and emotive accordion playing, while the fifth brings Latin grooves to the fore.

By the encore, a 30-strong impromptu dancefloor has formed at the front of Firth Hall, and the band oblige with what Lang describes as “hardcore dance music from Transylvania”.

Playing on International Women’s Day, the final tunes are dedicated to women in Palestine, earning a thunderous round of applause. Called back for a second encore by a restless dancefloor, the group launch into a slow jam that switches up halfway through, transforming into a riotous and free-spirited boogie.

The TalkingGigs performance was raising money for asylum charity ASSIST Sheffield.

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