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Multi Kontra Culti vs. Irony

Gogol Bordello

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Album Review

The idea of colliding Romany music with punk may at first seem bizarre, but there's more common ground to be found than one might first suspect, not the least of which involves the rejection of authority and dominant cultural norms. Musically, the Romanies' exuberant celebration of life may appear the antithesis of punk's original nihilism, but both are kindled by a sense of immediacy, a "no future, let's play for today" atmosphere that fires every song. And so Gogol Bordello, while certainly unique, is not as odd as it may seem. The group long ago left the concept of borders, musical or otherwise, behind. The members may have met in New York City, but bar one, all traveled far to get there, arriving from Israel and a variety of Eastern European nations. Singer/lyricist Eugene Hutz brought with him his rich Ukrainian heritage, a gift for storytelling, a twisted sense of humor, and a sharp sense of irony. The bandmembers brought their excellent musicianship, a love of their own cultural sounds, and a magpie's delight in plundering from others. The group's name pays tribute to Ukraine's most feted author, Nikolai Gogol, whose distinctive style and leitmotif provide inspiration for Hutz's lyrics. Skipping stealthily from the real world to the surreal, the pugnacious to the paranoid, the singer spins out his tales of wonder and woe, commonplace occurrences and counterintuitive events. Behind him, the band lets loose with an accompaniment that makes a nonsense of genres, a storming backing awash in melody that pushes toward pop, but cries out to the vast Eurasian steppes. Incredibly anthemic, Multi Kontra Culti will set your head spinning and your body with it, your blood racing to the rhythms, and your spirit soaring with the wildness of the untamed sounds within.

Biography

Formed: New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Combining elements of punk, Gypsy music, and Brecht-ian cabaret, Gogol Bordello tell the story of New York's immigrant diaspora through debauchery, humor, and surreal costumes. Leader and singer Eugene Hütz's taste in music was spun out of black market tapes of the Birthday Party and Einstürzande Neubauten in his native Ukraine. After being evacuated to western Ukraine in 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster, Hütz became enamored of the mystical, outsider qualities of Gypsy music. Living as a refugee...
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Multi Kontra Culti vs. Irony, Gogol Bordello
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