My survey of the scenes of Central and Eastern Europe returns, with this edition exploring the drones, darkness and beauty of the Bulgarian underground.

I remember first hearing about Bulgaria in my mother’s stories, who went there on holiday in 1982 when martial law was imposed in Poland. The country’s sunny beaches to our east were appealing, especially if you could get a break from hibernated Poland.

Outside of Bulgaria’s plethora of resorts, when I read articles about the country’s music it is dominated by an emphasis on the incredible folk traditions explored by the Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir, especially their album Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, which was released by 4AD almost a decade before my mother was bathing on the shores of the Black Sea. It is hardly surprising that this band has become so engraved in the memory given so few artists from Eastern Europe broke through to the broader consciousness during the Iron Curtain era.

As I write this sitting in Gdańsk, in the north of Poland, I see grim weather outside the window. If it snows, it melts immediately. If the frost intensifies, ice rinks form on the pavements. The last thing you want to do is to leave the house. I have a soundtrack for this situation which I’ve called Dark Drone Bulgaria – heavy, monotonous walls of guitars, electronic passages and field recordings. It’s time-stopping music that grows darker with each listen. Listening to it can bring you down, but at some point, a hidden beauty is revealed.