First of all, if you haven't seen Emir Kusturica's film Underground yet, do so now. You'll discover a masterful depiction of 20th-century Balkan history through metaphor, by turns comically zany and profoundly heartwrenching (I cried).
The soundtrack that Goran Bregovic created for UNDERGROUND is a wonderful stew of Balkan influences: gypsy brass, some old geezer singing in Romani, and great big drums pounding complicated circle-dance rhythms. Showing that today's borders are arbitrary, he also brings in three singers from the Shopsko region of Bulgaria, whose traditional vocal techniques include some striking yelps and leaps of sevenths. (One of these singers, Snejanka Borissova, has produced an album of traditional songs that merits attention from fans of Eastern European folk music).
But Bregovic's sound goes beyond these more traditional elements. "Ringe Ringe Raja" is a look back to 1960s bubblegum pop. "Ausencia", featuring vocals by the lovely Cesaria Evora, and the haunting "War" and "Underground Tango" display Bregovic's talents at orchestral scoring. "The Belly Button of the World" is a mashup of the Balkan elements, scat singing, ambient samples and a national anthem.
This is a soundtrack so addictive that I have to keep it off my iPod these days, lest I listen to it to the exclusion of everything else. I think any human being with a pulse would respond to Bregovic's zesty rhythms and joie de vivre, so I give this a very wide recommendation.