Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Balkan Beat Box - Nu-Med

Joe Tangari reviews Balkan Beat Box's Nu-Med.
That colorful jumble of instruments new and ancient, parachuting camels, Martian dirt, and bright banners on the cover of Nu-Med, the second album from Balkan Beat Box, is, to be perfectly honest, a really cheesy Photoshop job. But it is also apropos for an album that sounds like this: the band stirs klezmer, gypsy horns, surf, dub, Arab taqsim, hip-hop, funk, jazz, electro, circus music, and a few dozen other things together to make a raucous ethno/electro-acoustic gumbo that highlights the increasing inadequacy of the generic "world music" tag.

Founded by drummer/programmer Tamir Muskat and woodwind player and former Gogol Bordello member Ori Kaplan, both originally from Israel, the band gleefully adds its name to the ever-lengthening list of groups drawing inspiration from Eastern European sounds while rigorously avoiding sounding traditional. The lyrics, on the songs that have them, are in several languages, reflecting the music's transcendence of borders. The instrumentals simply revel in the collision of genres, and are played with a jazzy looseness in spite of their programmed undercarriages. "Quand Est-ce Qu'on Arrive?" even includes a sly quotation from Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" that brings the album's primary theme to the fore without saying a word.
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