Balkan Beat Box, Nu Med

Keith Harris

By Keith Harris

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Balkan music: it ain’t just for horns anymore.

Drummer Tamir Muskat and hornman Ori Kaplan are charter members of the multi-ethnic New York-based Gypsy revival that's been brought to our attention by the reprobates in Gogol Bordello. But where their pal Eugene Hutz slavers over his role as Gogol frontman, playing the Mad Slav, the better to whip devotees into a drunken punk froth, the co-founders of Balkan Beat Box are one-world groovers, intent on mapping the musical crossroads between Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the United States. As on their 2005 debut, they recreate the distinctively pinched horn sound and microtonal brass blasts that define Gypsy music. The beats, whether generated by human or machine, add old world funk to new world tech, and MC Tomer Yosef brings the ruckus. On Nu-Med, Balkan Beat Box, they expand the range of musicians they work with even further — on the sinuous "Habibi Min Zaman," Syrian singer Dunia raps in Arabic; on "BBBeat" Israeli-born Macedonian clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski weaves nimbly through his hosts 'horn charts, and on "Pachima," Moroccan fashion designer Gilber Gilmore sings a song from childhood. Having already honed a distinct sound themselves, Balkan Beat Box now offer that sound as a platform from which their pan-global slate of guests can make themselves heard.