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Balkan Beat Box
Blue Eyed Black Boy

Nat Geo Music

It was by accident and much good fortune that I made my way to Bonnaroo’s The Other Tent four years ago and caught the rousing set by Balkan Beat Box. Driven by an explosive mix of hip-hop and dancehall rhythms with Mediterranean and Balkan sounds, the members bounced around, ran and prowled the stage with enough energy to power Jack Johnson’s studio for a year. Translating that experience to a studio recording can be equal to the difference between packing for a trip to the equator after a week in Antarctica.

Blue Eyed Black Boy passes that test with 14 tracks that sweep the listener off his feet to a musical world that should pull in fans of acts such as Gogol Bordello, DeVotchka and Mano Negra/Manu Chao. But, in the creative hands of Ori Kaplan (saxophone, wind instruments), Tamir Muskat (drums, percussion, programming) and Tomer Yosef (vocals, percussion, guitar) the music distinguishes itself from those other acts by keeping their approach to the street level and their ears and eyes open to the social unrest around them — anti-Kosovo riots took place during recording. Blue Eyed becomes a whirling dervish of beats and world influences augmented by guests such asBelgrade’s Jovica Ajdarevic Orkestar. The multi-national flavors within the songwriting and performances seek to unite us in more positive spirits (“Marcha De La Vida,” “Dancing With The Moon”) and the outrage to demand that the past solutions of conflict be ignored (titled track, “Why,” “War Again”).

Like a horse chomping on the bit as if it’s about to race out of the starting gate, “Intro” quickly gives an indication of what’s to come with samples that transport us through the streets of Brooklyn and Jerusalem as a heartbeat-like rhythm pulsates beneath them. Sequeing into “Move It” the carefully constructed ride begins and sends you down a speedy, twisting, ecstatically-driven slope. “My Baby” offers a brief respite from the pace, allowing for the simplicity and directness of the lyrics to resonate. When “Kabulectro” begins it sounds like a song emanating out of a store’s boombox. It then progresses towards a frenzied tempo – stuttering backbeat, hypnotic horn line popping in, strings accentuating the atmosphere – fashioning a party awash in ouzo, Jager bombs, and the sweet-scented smoke from hookahs amidst the chaos that surrounded the making of the album. Music has always had the rare ability to cross borders and boundaries. The music of Balkan Beat Box frees the spirit, and momentarily diffuses the anger that keep us apart.

, Blue Eyed Black Boy

review by John Patrick Gatta (jpg16@aol.com)

Nat Geo Music

It was by accident and much good fortune that I made my way to Bonnaroo’s The Other Tent four years ago and caught the rousing set by Balkan Beat Box. Driven by an explosive mix of hip-hop and dancehall rhythms with Mediterranean and Balkan sounds, the members bounced around, ran and prowled the stage with enough energy to power Jack Johnson’s studio for a year. Translating that experience to a studio recording can be equal to the difference between packing for a trip to the equator after a week in Antarctica.

Blue Eyed Black Boy passes that test with 14 tracks that sweep the listener off his feet to a musical world that should pull in fans of acts such as Gogol Bordello, DeVotchka and Mano Negra/Manu Chao. But, in the creative hands of Ori Kaplan (saxophone, wind instruments), Tamir Muskat (drums, percussion, programming) and Tomer Yosef (vocals, percussion, guitar) the music distinguishes itself from those other acts by keeping their approach to the street level and their ears and eyes open to the social unrest around them — anti-Kosovo riots took place during recording. Blue Eyed becomes a whirling dervish of beats and world influences augmented by guests such asBelgrade’s Jovica Ajdarevic Orkestar. The multi-national flavors within the songwriting and performances seek to unite us in more positive spirits (“Marcha De La Vida,” “Dancing With The Moon”) and the outrage to demand that the past solutions of conflict be ignored (titled track, “Why,” “War Again”).

Like a horse chomping on the bit as if it’s about to race out of the starting gate, “Intro” quickly gives an indication of what’s to come with samples that transport us through the streets of Brooklyn and Jerusalem as a heartbeat-like rhythm pulsates beneath them. Sequeing into “Move It” the carefully constructed ride begins and sends you down a speedy, twisting, ecstatically-driven slope. “My Baby” offers a brief respite from the pace, allowing for the simplicity and directness of the lyrics to resonate. When “Kabulectro” begins it sounds like a song emanating out of a store’s boombox. It then progresses towards a frenzied tempo – stuttering backbeat, hypnotic horn line popping in, strings accentuating the atmosphere – fashioning a party awash in ouzo, Jager bombs, and the sweet-scented smoke from hookahs amidst the chaos that surrounded the making of the album. Music has always had the rare ability to cross borders and boundaries. The music of Balkan Beat Box frees the spirit, and momentarily diffuses the anger that keep us apart.

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