Romanian minimal from a master of the craft.

Over here at XLR8R, we have covered the Romanian hypnotic minimal community extensively—check out our overarching feature here, plus our podcasts from Cristi Cons (and an interview), Amorf, Priku, Dubtil, and Dan Andrei. Plus, there’s a studio feature with Vlad Caia.

At the heart of this collective stands one individual we’ve been eager to feature for years: Cezar Lazãr (a.k.a CEZAR), the founder of Understand, a trailblazing label where you’ll find releases from Rhadoo, Amorf, Prâslesh, and more, and a co-founder of the Ourown vinyl distribution center based in Bucharest. Few artists can lay claim to having contributed more to the genre’s ascent.

Away from this, CEZAR heads up Algorhythm of Unknown, a label that fuses jazz and electroacoustic elements, resulting in a “transformative auditory experience that defies traditional genre boundaries,” he says. (Check out an album of his here.) He also teaches audio engineering to younger artists who more than likely have been inspired by his work as a DJ-producer, which leads us nicely onto that.

Through his releases, which are rare but worth waiting for, CEZAR specializes in crafting intricate minimal experimental techno. You’ll find his EPs on Understand, Amphia, the label of Cristi Cons and Vlad Caia, and Atipic Records, where he recently released a new EP.

And as a DJ you’ll find him spinning records and playing plenty of unreleased studio jams across Europe. Until now, that’s pretty much the only place you could hear his sets: “Until this year, I was a little bit conservative about sharing recordings of my DJ sets,” he told XLR8R recently. But after 20 years of playing, he thinks it’s about time to have more of his music online. That begins with this XLR8R podcast, recorded live at the ninth edition of Dor de Munte festival in Romania over the summer. Dial in for nearly four hours (Yes, this one’s a long one) from one of the masters of the craft.

01. What have you been up to recently?
My days recently have been a mix of DJing and studio sessions. The South American tour with Praslea was an incredible experience, sharing our mutual passion for music with new collaborators, artists, and fans. I’m excited about the positive reception to my latest EP just released on Atipic Records and a new album on my experimental label, Algorhythm of Unknown, featuring collaborations with fellow musicians. Balancing these musical endeavors with teaching audio engineering brings my professional life full circle.

02. How has your 2023 been?
The challenges faced by the music industry in 2023, with a two-year gap in events and various restrictions, led to a dramatic shift in the scene. Despite these hurdles, I navigated through by consistently traveling while keeping a strong focus on production. I’ve created a dozen new tracks and have been gearing up for live performances with my new formed band, Prismatic.

03. When and where did you record this mix? What made this particular set so memorable?
This mix was recorded during the ninth edition of Dor de Munte, which that took place near Brasov, on June 1, 2023. This annual event, organized by Sunrise and proudly made by us, holds a special place in our musical culture. Set against the backdrop of mountains, this breathtaking environment serves as a unique source of inspiration, making it a distinctive experience for performers and participants.

04. Can you talk to me about some of the artists and tracks you’ve included?
I consistently strive to achieve a harmonious blend of classic and contemporary tracks, balancing released and unreleased music. My primary emphasis during performances lies in storytelling, and navigating the challenge of improvisation across various genres within the framework of electronic dance music is both demanding and gratifying. Much like in a story where each detail holds significance, I believe that singling out just a few artists is unfair.

05. What’s on your horizon for the new year?
Exciting plans ahead! Releasing new material on the Understand label and preparing for the first Prismatic album, all while continuing my journey as a DJ.

XLR8R Subscribers can download the podcast below. If you’re not an XLR8R subscriber, you can read more about it and subscribe here.

Editor’s Note: There is no tracklisting for this podcast.

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