4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Nu Med (Audio CD)
Just look at the camels parachuting into a striped desert. Who wouldn't want to listen to what's inside?
Well, hopefully lots of people will. East European fusion music is moderately hot right now, with bands like Beirut and Gogol Bordello on the rise. But one of the best ones is Balkan Beat Box, whose second album "Nu Med" further polishes their ethnic hip-hop/rock sound -- it's just a thoroughly colourful, flavourful album.
It opens with a deliciously funky "Keep it Straight," which sounds like an Arabian market being invaded by hip-hop gypsy brass bands. It's followed by the deliciously colourful rap song "Hermetico," riddled with brass blats, handclaps, horses, and a voice telling us, "We're comin' straight through your ears, no complications... here we go, you better listen..."
They follow it with the exotic "Habibi Min Zaman," which sounds like a James Bond soundtrack in the Middle-East, and lead in to a bunch of even better songs: bootyshaking marches, sinuous rap, gypsy music wrapped in electrodance, folksy horn-rock, funky Balkan dance tunes, and colourful folk pop filled with yipping, yowling vocals.
If anything, "Nu Med" is even better than Balkan Beat Box's debut -- it's more polished and melodious, and more relaxed now that they have their sound down. But they don't change much musically, with the core of the music remaining the same: Middle-Eastern and East-European folk music, interwoven with modern dance, rock and hip-hop.
Musically it's a big hodgepodge -- you can hear some steely guitar buried under all the other sounds, which is the most normal part of it. Then you have nimble horns forming sinuous melodies and funky edges, solid drums, some colourful electronica, some accordion and some murmuring violins in "Mexico City," which is the one dud in the album. It's too sedate and mellow for the raucous overall sound.
But they also spice it up with samples and odd sounds -- babies laughing, horses neighing, a man calling out in another language. And in some songs, we get some very heavily accented rapping, usually pretty nonsensical: "I'm the digital monkey/supply the freakin' season with the rhythm that's funky/I come from Belize/but don't belong to no country..."
"Nu Med" takes what Balkan Beat Box had to begin with, and polishes it to gem status. Despite that one dud song, it's a wild, colourful festival ride, full of gypsy music and dance flavour.