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Cristi Tudorache makes emotional house music. As Melodie (which means "song" in Romanian), he's released two records of a quality far beyond most emerging producers. Stripped down and full of personality, these 12-inches broke from the low-slung minimal sound that's associated with Bucharest, his hometown, revealing Tudorache's love for acid and classic house. A typically Romanian sense of subtlety was still present, but the sounds seemed more familiar than the more abstract aesthetic of most minimal. Tudorache's music was more accessible, giving it potential to appeal beyond the dedicated fan base of the established Romanian sound.
The first of Tudorache's EPs arrived in March. Echo Rhythm paired subtle acid house with a loopy minimal blueprint. Classicist flourishes gave it a vibrancy that eludes lot of similarly stripped-back music, immediately marking him as an act to look out for among Romania's especially fertile house scene. Tudorache then dropped the excellent Influences in June, another 12-inch that matched easy-going acid with a lean template. "I don't listen to much Romanian music at home," Tudorache says. "And I don't play much when I DJ. But I do go out to parties where there are a lot of Romanian DJs playing it, so of course there is some influence. I think that's where it comes from."
In keeping with the minimal scene's low-key approach to promotion, Echo Rhythm and Influences arrived with little fanfare. It's music you seek out—it doesn't come to you. Echo Rhythm landed on Metereze, a label launched by Raresh, one of Romania's best-known DJs, and Influences was released by RORA, a respected Swiss outpost for deep and minimal house. Tudorache and Raresh have been friends since 2005, and Echo Rhythm was Metereze's fourth release in two years. "I was so happy," Tudorache says. "After sending the tracks to Raresh, it was couple of months until he told me he wanted to release them. He told me that he liked them straight away, but I also approached other labels and received no response, or they said they needed more tracks. So I was very happy to release them with Raresh. He's a great guy and I relate to him really well. It couldn't have worked out better."
Patience is Tudorache's most obvious trait. He's been producing for over ten years and values studio competence very highly. The three tracks on Echo Rhythm EP were between two and three years old by the time they landed on wax (there's a video of Rhadoo dropping "Acid Sunday" at a party in 2013). This mentality helps explain Tudorache's mature sound. "It's important to know how to use your equipment," he says. "If you learn the music and theory, and how to use these machines, you can truly express yourself. You can create a lot of abstract, maybe transcendental sounds that are not constrained by the things acoustic instruments are constrained by. You can express a lot of emotional states with synthesisers."
The 29-year-old Tudorache has been researching sound for most of his adult life. In today's culture of instant gratification, producers with such dedication to bettering their methods and broadening their horizons are rare. "At first it was like an alien language," Tudorache says. "I constantly watched tutorials and interviews, and read books and articles—all kinds of things. The more I learnt, the more I could use. And the more I understand about music, the more I like it."
Tudorache believes that a physical connection between a producer and their equipment is vital. He works intuitively and emphasises the importance of the "human touch" recording live brings to his music. "Nowadays many people do their tracks in a cut and paste kind of thing," he says. "You have that arrangement view where you just loop your sounds and drag them around with a mouse. I did some work like this back when I didn't have controllers or synthesisers—believe me, your inspiration doesn't create much. It takes too long. I think you can express yourself much better if you record live."
The ability to make a little say a lot usually requires deep thinking and technical proficiency, two things integral to Tudorache's sound. "Music opens up your inner connection with yourself," he says. "And maybe some higher truth. As you become more and more into art and music, you become more understanding of emotion."
The Romanian scene's emphasis on technical skill also applies to DJing. Catch an eight-hour set from one of the country's best-known selectors (Rhadoo, Petre Inspirescu and Raresh are the first names that come to mind, but the same goes for younger acts like Cristi Cons or Dan Andrei), and you probably won't hear a single hi-hat out of place, let alone a botched transition. This is arguably at odds with the thinking that technical prowess is less valued in dance music than it once was. "For me it comes down to not disappointing the people," Tudorache says on his approach to playing in clubs. "I always try to find new ways of mixing, because I don't want to be doing the same thing forever."
Tudorache has been DJing for roughly as long as he's been producing, recently playing up to three times in Romania per month. His online mixes suggest a more classic and straightforward sound than many other Romanian DJs, with a splash of dub techno and modern deep house. In taking this route, he bucks another characteristic of the country's scene: the emphasis on playing unreleased material from its key producers. Despite probably being in a position to obtain this exclusive material, Tudorache's goes away from this approach, further reinforcing his unique position in the scene (though he does like to play tracks from Praslesh, the collaboration between Raresh and Praslea).
Petre Inspirescu is one of Tudorache's favourite DJs. "He is always taking it to another level and progressing," he says. "I like that he has a lot of elegance in his music, not just boring minimal. It's really organic and the melodies are elegant and soft. I don't remember being at a party with him, Raresh or Rhadoo playing and thinking afterwards, 'Wow, they were bad tonight.' That's what I get inspired by—they are so good at what they do, and they like doing it so much."
Tudorache has only played a handful of gigs abroad, but you can expect that to change very soon. In terms of releases, there's a collaborative EP, with Teluric, a close friend, on RORA sublabel Bleu Ciel on the way, as well as plans to start a label of his own. The charming "Acid Saturday," a companion to "Acid Sunday" from Tudorache's debut EP, is due on Bucharest label Origami Sound early next year (there's a clip of Raresh playing it at this year's Weather Festival in Paris). It feels like Tudorache has a solid platform from which to build. He's emerged with considered values and a level of maturity that many breakout producers don't develop until long after they've got their break—if ever. It's reassuring to know that after years spent patiently honing their craft, deep thinking, dedicated producers like Tudorache are still out there waiting to be heard.