With the fall of communism throughout Eastern Europe in the 1990s, musicians in Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere had a lot more freedom -- freedom to travel, freedom to perform when and where they wanted and freedom to be openly influenced by the "decadent" pop, rock, dance music and hip-hop that had long been taken for granted in Western Europe. While it was nice to see contemporary pop scenes growing in what used to be Eastern Bloc nations, more traditional forms still had their place. In Bulgaria, one of the top traditional groups was Bulgari, whose album Bulgarian Folk Music contains exactly that. If you notice some similarity between songs like "Izpoved," "Leljo Le, Leljo Milkhano" and "Mari Todoro" and the music of the Middle East and North Africa, it's because traditional Bulgarian music also favors modal playing. Like Greek, Turkish, Arabic, Armenian, Jewish, Indian, Pakistani, Moroccan, Algerian and Iranian/Persian music, Bulgarian folk uses modal scales. While the parallels are there, it's important to stress that Bulgarian music has a recognizable sound of its own. One of the things that makes it distinctive is the use of the gaida, a Bulgarian bagpipe that's quite prominent on this CD. Other Bulgarian instruments that Bulgari uses include tupan drums, the kaval (an open-ended wood flute) and the gadulka (a bowed instrument). If you've never experienced the pleasures of Bulgarian traditionalism, Bulgarian Folk Music would be an excellent place to start.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson