Arts, Culture & Media

This haunting soul music is straight from the Transylvanian mountains. Seriously.

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Zmei3 gets down in Romania.

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The band Zmei3 (pronounced "zmay-tray") has roots in Romanian folk music, but the four members now reside in Berlin. They call their sound "rough Romanian soul." It's from the city, not the country. And with two Germans in the quartet, the band is also about introducing their take on this music to new audiences and fresh ears.

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It's not a typical line-up of musicians, either, for songs that recall gypsy style: haunting vocals, acoustic guitar and bass, and vibraphones. But the sound transports the listener to the Romanian mountains, where lead singer Paula Turcas is originally from. Transylvania in fact.

SixDegrees Records in San Francisco released the band's album, which was produced by Ian Brennan. He's a man who is used to out-of-the-way places as locations to record albums (a recent one was recorded in a prison in Malawi). And for this project, Brennan followed the band to their roots in Romania.

To better understand what inspires Zmei3 and where their sound comes from, the trip was filmed by director Roman Rhode as a documentary.

For the two Romanians, it was a homecoming, and a chance to show their German bandmates what inspires their music. The Germans weren't quite sure what to expect.

"Zmei3: Trip Through Transylvania" will be widely available soon. The World offers you this exclusive world premiere.

Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the wrong name for the documentary's director.