Balkan folk goes clubbing.
The Balkan region of Europe is home to a melting pot of musical cultures and ideas. You can have traditional drums and chants, electric saz solos, disco synths and all things between. In one track. That is exactly what Balkan Taksim bring to the speakers with their debut album ‘Disco Telegraf’. It is an hour of psychedelic and quirky Balkan folk-rock that wants to party too.
To explain just how wide-reaching Balkan Taksim are, the singer of the duo Sașa-Liviu Stoianovici sings in Romanian, Serbo-Croatian, Serbian South Slavic Torlakian and Aromanian Gramustean dialects. He is also in charge of all the plucked strings on the album. Alin Zăbrăuțeanu leads on synths and keys. There are moments when the duo creates an exploratory journey like on ‘A Mirelui’. The rhythmic drums next to the raj drone synths, vocals and strings are superb. Then immediately on the flipside, ‘Mortu’ is a neon trip-hop experimental electronica piece.
You are never sure of what flavour you’ll get next with Balkan Taksim. ‘Ankara Ekspresi’ is a nine-minute trance piece that’s fresh out of an early 2000’s arcade game. Only this has an electric saz jamming throughout. ‘Foaie Verde’ is a pulsating gypsy folk bonanza bursting with colour. The closer ‘Balkan Teleskop’ is a highly romantic and quirky synth operatic pop. Elsewhere we go clubbing on ‘Meram Ekspresi’, explore Turkey’s rhythms with ‘Zalina’ and enjoy some psyche-disco with ‘Usak Ekspresi’. Want some psyche-rock? Try out ‘Shlonak’ for rivers of saz riffs. I really enjoyed Zenobia’s album last year ‘Halak Halak’ but it was quite distinct in its one-note approach. Here, we are all over the place and it makes for a far more interesting and exuberant album.
Not all of the tracks work perfectly but for an album so vast in genres and disciplines, a listener will naturally be pulled to certain styles over others. For me, the big dance and percussive gypsy folk tracks were all phenomenally bombastic and full of life. They more than make up for a couple of the muddier tracks elsewhere that didn’t connect quite as well.
Balkan Taksim have really unleashed themselves with ‘Disco Telegraf’. Fun, expressive, groovy and layered – this is how I want to party in 2021. Unleash the beast!
Recommended track: A Mirelui
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