Let's assume that you've at least heard of the Orient House Ensemble, and possibly seen them live so don't need to be told how amazing Gilad Atzmon is. If this isn't the case, as the old story of the Irish response to a request for directions says, "I wouldn't start from here". Try 'Nostalgico' first, then last year's "people's choice" for BBC jazz album of the year 'Exiles'. If you've heard the latter, what you'll probably want to know is how this compares. Well, it's pretty different, despite the obvious common thread of the basic personnel. The only track that would slot straight into the Arabic/Balkan flavour of 'Exiles' is 'Liberating the American People'. This aside, there's a much more composed and considered feel this album, with some of the tunes (eg the title track) verging on the classical. The album does have, though, a certain formal similarity with its predecessor. For example, it opens with the two vocal tracks that give it its underlying character. As a vocalist, Reem Kelani (who sang on Exiles) is a hard act to follow, but new boy Guillermo Rosenthuler from Buenos Aires acquits himself well on the beautiful 'Joven, Hermosa y Triste'. Personally, I'm still not completely convinced by the other vocal, 'Surfing', a self-consciously arty tune based around an Atzmon poem, but it's beginning to grow on me. The centrepiece, 'Re-arranging the 20th Century' is a tour de force featuring a witty spoken intro from Robert Wyatt before throwing the kitchen sink at the listener - Roll Out the Barrel, Mack the Knife, babies crying, sirens wailing, the lot. The tune that's been stuck in my head for 2 days now is Lili Marleen, a long time staple of the live set, done here in full with tongue in cheek and a knowing wink. The other stand-out for me is the tango track. Actually the whole album statrted growing on me after, ooh, about one play. It's sad, funny, angry, inspiring and several other adjectives and I've played it a lot since buying it a gig last week. I've also seen most of it done live, and I can verify that it's even more incredible - catch them if you can. One final observation - now more than ever, despite Gilad's obvious charisma, the Orient House Ensemble are a band, and a pretty wonderful one too: each is a virtuoso in his own right, and they gel as never before. To sum up, if you're open minded, buy with confidence, but if you're expecting jazz, beware: this ain't it in any normal sense of the word.