Saturday, March 28, 2009

GORAN BREGOVIC - Alkohol (Mercury)

There's no letting up for the Serbo-Croat superstar as he gathers his Wedding and Funeral Band for a mighty blast of Romany polyphony.
Although Bregovic came to fame in world music circles many years ago with film scores such as the powerful soundtrack the Emir Kusturica movie 'Time of the Gypsies', it's only latterly that his name has truly broken through via his contribution to the Borat soundtrack and his ensemble's fine (if largely ignored in the UK) folky wig-out at Eurovision 2008.

Recorded live in and around the Serbian capital Belgrade, Alkohol is a raucous, light-hearted party album and tribute to the drinking exploits of Goran's father. And it promises to consolidate Brogovic's profile even further.
The controversy around the Kusturica soundtrack -- and much of Goran's approach to the appropriation and reworking of traditional Roma music -- is unlikely to go away anytime soon, but whether authentic and original or not it's difficult to resist the tough, rumpety-pumping horns, crackling snare drum and call and response between Goran and Alen Ademovic and their whooping, wailing female backing vocalists.

Streets are Drunk has the Borat feel, its inebriated catchiness marked by a wild trumpet that sways in and out of the rest of the brass over a bouncy bouncy fun fun fun tigger-rhythm. Great fun. Tis Agapis Sou To Risko will appeal to fans of Berlin brass-meisters 17 Hippies, a rollicking beer-hall sing-along the lurches in and out of about three disparate jaunty rhythms.

Paradehtika rattles along to a 12/8 signature, driven by female vocalists Ljudmila Ratkova and Daniela Ratkova manic chants, and Gas Gas Gas is another highlight, with chugging acoustic guitars and guest German producer/DJ Shantel's subtle programmed beat bringing a slightly less organic approach than the rest of the album.

Love him or hate him, Goran Bregovic does bring great appeal and popularisation to this funky, honking Balkan gyspy genre (Romania's Fanfare Ciocarlia or Kocani Orkestar from Macedonia might be the next stop for those new to this stuff) and so long as he makes it so irresistibly attractive (while acknowledging the source where applicable) what's not to like?

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