Zmei3 (pronounced zmay-tray) is a Romanian group whose eccentric sound melds together elements of Romanian folk, soul, blues, jazz, and avant-garde. Fronted by powerhouse vocalist Paula Turcas, a former opera singer, and featuring vibraphonist Oli Bott, guitarist/lyricist Mihai Victor Iliescu, and double bassist Arnulf Ballhorn, the band's unusual name is inspired by zmeu (zmei plural), a supernatural half-dragon/half-man creature from Romanian mythology. Their intense and often freeform songs frequently deal with the harsh struggles of post-Communist rule in their home country. Working with Grammy-winning American producer Ian Brennan (Tinariwen, Malawi Mouse Boys), Zmei3 recorded their debut album, Rough Romanian Soul, live with no overdubs in the Transylvanian Mountains near Dracula's castle. The album was released in early 2016 by Six Degrees Records. ~ Timothy Monger

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