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Balkan Beat Box

Balkan Beat Box

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Album Review

With the tag "world music" applying to everything in an easy catch-all umbrella category, it's hard to disseminate between a quality exercise in the fusion of cultures and a bargain-bin, second-rate throwaway imitation. Beyond some sort of run-of-the-mill world music act, Balkan Beat Box's eponymous debut fuses Arabic, Hassidic, and other traditional music with hip-hop beats without sounding generic and obvious. The opening number, "Cha Cha," is easily a standout among this session with its dubbed-out beats and blend of tension and release. The haunting Middle East-inspired guitar playing on "Adir Adirim" is another highlight. But like Fela Kuti, Sun Ra, and other large ensembles, the energy from this group stems from its vibrant and high-energy live performances, where songs are stretched and twisted every which way and the improvisation runs high. Sometimes albums are only documents that attempt to capture the essence of the performances and the results fall flat, doing the groups a slight disservice by misrepresenting what they're all about. Thankfully this is not the case here.

Biography

Formed: 2003 in New York, NY

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s

With a group of musicians rotating around the Israel-born New Yorkers Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat, Balkan Beat Box plays Mediterranean-influenced music that incorporates traditions from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and New York electronica. Both men had plenty of experience playing in various eclectic bands before starting BBB: saxophonist Kaplan came to the U.S. to play jazz but soon fell into the underground, immigrant-driven scene, hooking up with Gogol Bordello and others, while percussionist...
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Balkan Beat Box, Balkan Beat Box
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