Best Albums of 2018
selected by Svetoslav Todorov

Kan Wakan <BR> “Phantasmagoria Vol.1”

Kan Wakan
“Phantasmagoria Vol.1”

In an age where we seem to pay less and less attention to more complexly structured and conteptual works, Sofia-born and LA-based musician Georgi Linev is not afraid to do an album which is a coheren piece of music and not just a collection of songs. This is his second LP as Kan Wakan.

♪♫ Listen to: “I Would” + album stream

Kan Wakan on Facebook.

Expectations <BR> “Bye-Bye, Youth”

“Bye-Bye, Youth”

Local hardcore heroes Expectations bring their quarter life crises into something honest and anger-ridden with their fourth release called “Bye-Bye, Youth”.

♪♫ Listen: “I’m Ready to Die” + album stream

Expectations on Facebook.

Gena/Grigovor/Jluch <BR> “Priliv”


It’s hard to describe a local hip-hop act when a foreign listener would be completely cut off from the depth of the lyrics and the cultural references in them. However, here is a hint to understanding this one: the album title, Priliv, means “Tide” in English and in a way, symbolizes the much more experimental nature and thematic depth of Bulgaria’s non-mainstream hip-hop scene.

♪♫ Listen: “Skorostna kutiya” + album stream

Gena/Grigovor/Jluch on Facebook.

Evitceles <BR> “Constant Yearning”

“Constant Yearning”

After several EP’s, a collaboration with fellow electronic artist Mytrip, a debut LP in the beginning of this year and several performances around Europe, Evitceles somehow managed to squeeze time for one more project. He takes his ethereal ambient further with another full-lenght: Constant Yearning, his first record on Italy-based label Yerevan Tapes.

♪♫ Listen: “Dream I Had/Virgian Fields” + album stream

Evitceles on Facebook.

Help Me Jones <BR> “Farewell Princess”

Help Me Jones
“Farewell Princess”

The title refers to the unexpected death of band member and frontwoman of Nasekomix Andronia Popova (mentioned in the Bluba Lu entry) in 2017. However, the music is anything but sombre: Help Me Jones, now consisted of theatre director, actor and poet Mariy Rosen and keyboardist, DJ and theatre composer Konstantin Timoshenko, make music heavily influences by early 80’s synth pop.

Their songs in English are slighly more serious and introspective while the Bulgarian ones are often lyrically absurdist. On this EP trilogy they finally blend their humour with English singing.

♪♫ Listen: “Dr. Toilet” + album stream

Help me Jones on Facebook.

Bluba Lu <BR> “Atomi”

Bluba Lu

Bluba Lu are quite an interesting case of the Bulgarian scene – the duo exist since the mid-90’s and they have done their best to confuse the audience as much as possible. Creatively, of course – they’ve done ambient, jazz, trip-hop-flavoured records, sound design projects, soundtracks, ambitious stage designs and double LP’s. On Atomi they open a new page: it’s their first with lyrics on Bulgarian and instead of array of guest singers, the vocals are handled by bandmember Dimiter Paskalev. The production is also much more intimate and minimal.

If you want to delve into their more experimental phrase, it’s hugely recommended to try their 2007 album, World Melancholy, featuring Andronia Popova of Nasekomix and Help Me Jones, as well as Quadrotopia, featuring Eddie Stevens, a longtime Roisin Murphy collaborator and mixed by Andy Jackson, who has worked with Pink Floyd.

♪♫ Listen to: “Atomi” + album stream

Bluba Lu on Facebook, Bandcamp.

Oratnitza <BR> “Alter Ethno”

“Alter Ethno”

Similarly to Irfan, Oratnitza also explore the common traits between Bulgaria’s folklore and those of other cultures but probably in a slighly more accessible way. Their new record, cleverly titled Alter Ethno, comes after three years of successfully touring around Europe.

♪♫ Listen: “Ethiopa” + album stream

Oratnitza on Facebook.

Irfan <BR> “Roots”


Various cultural influences have always effortlessly blended in Irfan’s music – these days “world music” is considered a bit of a dismissive tag but here the world really feels like an entity. On this one however, they focus mainly on Bulgaria’s folklore in addition to using a rich arsenal of instruments from all around the world.

♪♫ Listen: “Emeriga” + album stream

Irfan on Facebook.

Ivan Shopov and Theodosii Spasov <BR> “InFusion”

Ivan Shopov and Theodosii Spasov

This year was big for acts exploring the cultural heritage of Bulgarian folklore and twisting it into something new. This one is the latest offering from versatile electronic artist Ivan Shopov (who this year also released a record under his COOH alias and another LP with Violance Drakes) and well-known pipe (kaval) player Theodosii Spasov. The duo have also recorded as part of the Бalkansky project. Shopov has also experimented with Bulgarian folklore on his 2017 record, Kanatitsa.

♪♫ Listen: “The Technique of Ecstasy” + album stream

Ivan Shopov on Bandcamp, Facebook.

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices feat. Lisa Gerrard “BooCheeMish”

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices feat. Lisa Gerrard “BooCheeMish”

The first original record of the Grammy-winning choir The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices in quite some time features Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance on four tracks and in many ways brings the choir’s curious modern day history into a full circle – in UK, Dead Can Dance and The Mystery both originate from the legendary independent label 4AD, mostly associated with its shoegaze and post-punk output. Early on, the choir’s specific singing technique became a major influence for Gerrard’s non-verbal singing style.

♪♫ Listen: “Pora Sotunda” + album stream

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices on Facebook.