03 November 2008

Monday's mp3: Balkan Dreaming

Brass Menazeri - Vranjski San (Vranje Dream)

I can imagine the members of Brass Menazeri packing up for a gig... They shove all of their horns into a small hatchback, and drive across the Golden Gate Bridge with the last rays of light fading from the sky. They exit the road, pull up to a small Macedonian village hall, and spend the night insisting that everyone at the wedding get up and dance, till both dancers and musicians are too exhausted to continue.

The Balkans. The Bay Area. Brass Menzeri brings the former to the latter... and well beyond, with their sophomore album, Vranjski San (Vranje Dream). The album's title track "composed itself while [BM band leader Peter Jaques] slept in a hotel in Branjska Banja, while in Serbia with Slavic Soul Party."

That's not the only cross-band link. Members of Afrobeat group Aphrodesia join the fray on the raucous, funky "Opa Cupa Fly." For the most part, the Brass Menazeri themselves have plenty of juice to keep the tunes rolling and your feet dancing, even if your head is in a twist trying to keep up with the complex Balkan rhythms.

[mp3] Brass Menazeri: Kozarica Kolo
from Vranjski San (Vranje Dream)

Traditional songs from Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, India, and Macedonia line up with a handful of original tunes, and with such unique arrangements only the most knowledgeable Balkan music fan will be able to tell them apart. Closer to village tradition than modern club, Brass Menazeri are driving a clownishly crammed old car on a musical bridge to somewhere.

More on Brass Menazeri:
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