Balkan Beat Box

Sax player Ori Kaplan, keyboard player Tamir Muskrat, and MC Tomer Yosef, the madmen behind Balkan Beat Box, are spearheading the latest underground music trend — Eastern European mashup. Like their New York compatriots in Gogol Bordello, the trio takes the fractured rhythms of the Eastern Bloc and drops in steaming portions of reggaeton, klezmer, flamenco, Bulgarian wedding tunes, stomping gypsy music, and dub-wise reggae to create a bass-heavy, booty-bouncing sound. Songs like "Joro Boro" take the otherworldly harmonies of traditional Bulgarian women's music and tweak them with twangy spaghetti-Western guitars and klezmer horns. "Habibi Min Zaman" sounds like the theme song from a Turkish spy movie out of the Sixties, and "Digital Monkey" drops delirious gypsy horn lines into a pounding dancehall backbeat. Somehow, the group's inventive blend of acoustic and electronic textures keeps things down-to-earth, even as they're spinning wildly out of control. — J. Poet


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