Blato Zlato is a New Orleans-based Balkan band featuring dreamy three-part vocal harmonies over hard-hitting instrumentals. The band puts a modern Louisiana twist on traditional music from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, with a particular focus on Bulgarian songs and dark, improvisational arrangements. Hailed as a band with “galactic ambitions” by The New Orleans Advocate, Blato Zlato is a powerhouse of accomplished players from Europe and the United States with a collective goal to produce meaningful cultural and musical bridges between old world and new. In 2019 Blato Zlato released their anticipated sophomore album, In The Wake, following their acclaimed 2017 releases of their debut album Swamp Gold and the limited-edition EP Voyage.
Based in Louisiana yet rooted in Balkan traditions, Blato Zlato features dreamy three-part vocal harmonies over hard-hitting instrumentals. Inspired by the ancient traditions of their heritage and steeped in the diverse cultural influences of the New Orleans music scene, the band breathes life into new, contemporary arrangements of traditional Eastern European melodies while also composing a new generation of folk songs. With many band members raised in Eastern Europe and having ancestry there, the band’s music aims to explore and preserve the traditional elements of Balkan music that make it so unique – the rhythm, melody, harmony and storytelling – but musically translate these songs with influences of each member’s unique musical background. Elements of modern and New Orleans jazz, contemporary classical, and even psychedelic and metal seep through the folk arrangements forming Blato Zlato’s unprecedented genre of progressive Balkan folk-rock.
“Aggressive… a band rocking out with exotic sounds…. The best moments happen when [the vocal] harmonies meet with the band’s rolling thunder.” – Offbeat Magazine, 2017.
Following the 2017 release of their debut album Swamp Gold and subsequent EP Voyage, the band has taken the New Orleans music scene by storm, broadening their fan base from bars and clubs to museums, universities, and the local festival circuit. Hailed as a band with “galactic ambitions” by The New Orleans Advocate, Blato Zlato is a powerhouse of accomplished players with a collective goal to produce meaningful cultural and musical bridges between old world and new. Their hard work has resulted in two recent national and international tours, including appearances on several festival stages across North America and Europe, and an array of diverse musical collaborations with such artists as Nels Cline (Wilco), Binky Griptite (Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings), Leyla McCalla, Carl LeBlanc (Sun Ra Arkestra), Helen Gillet, and Wendell Brunious (Preservation Hall Jazz Band All Stars). The band has appeared several times on Bulgarian National Television and Radio in Bulgaria, their second homebase, and has been featured on Folk Radio UK, NYC Radio Live, Brooklyn Vegan, the Village Voice, and Offbeat Magazine.
Following two years of touring in both North America and Europe, the band released their anticipated sophomore album, In The Wake, on Nov. 22. The album pays homage to the band’s dual musical homes of New Orleans and Bulgaria, featuring modern interpretations of Balkan folk traditions steeped in the band’s uniquely dark sound and inspired by their lives in New Orleans, a city teeming with both musical richness and seasonal flooding. The result is a concept album that, while musically rooted in Bulgarian tradition, reflects heavily on New Orleans’ tenuous yet binding relationship with nature.
“Aggressive… a band rocking out with exotic sounds….gorgeous voices…The best moments happen when the [vocal] harmonies meet with the band’s rolling thunder.” – OffBeat Magazine
“[Golden Festival’s] out-of-town surprises include Balkan-funk stew Blato Zlato” – The Village Voice
“[Blato Zlato’s Swamp Gold] infuses tradition with dark, dreamy, original arrangements and the sounds of the Louisiana swamp.” – Folk Radio UK
“[Swamp Gold] weaves actual bayou sounds into joyous, meditative rhythms and melodies colliding with dense three-part harmonies.” – The Gambit Weekly as part of their 2017 “artists to watch” feature
“[Blato Zlato] kicked the doors down at this year’s Golden Fest…a very impressive show… everybody was blown away!” – NYC Radio Live
“Released in tandem with a gorgeous multimedia performance to celebrate the anniversary of the Voyager spacecraft and its Golden Records, the Balkans-inspired band released its interpretation of Bulgarian classic “Izlel e Delyo Haidutin,” as well as an original composition, an indictment of xenophobic groupthink, asking the world to keep up with the band’s galactic ambitions.” – The Gambit Weekly, on VOYAGE (EP)
“Parfait.” (“Perfect.”) – Nova Express Musique
“Custom dark arrangements, three-part vocal harmonies and swelling instrumentals.” – NOLA Defender
“Alternately exuberant and plaintive, with sweet singing, sturdy Old World percussion, and lively New World folk dance fiddling. The shimmering voices are strong enough to stand alone.” –Lorena Moore, Bandcamp review
- Nov. 16, 2017 – Discovery of Voyager at the Music Box Village
- Oct. 1, 2017 – Release of Music Video, Izlel e Delyo Haidutin
- Sept. 5, 2017 – Kickstarter Campaign for Discovery of Voyager
- May 17, 2017 – Release of Debut Music Video, Miatalo Lenche Iabalka
- Dec. 30, 2016 – Release of Debut Album, Swamp Gold
DakhaBrakha, Slavic Soul Party, “Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares” (Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir), Warsaw Village Band, Beirut, Dikanda, Beats Antique