Okay, so, normally, anything that has the whiff of 'World Music' about it gives me hives. There's nothing intrinsically inferior about music not made in the United States (although for the last 100 years, America has
made the best pop music in the world; jazz, too; oh, and blues; hip-hop I guess too), it's just that the overwhelming majority of stuff that gets tagged 'World Music,' as a genre unto itself, sounds to me like toothless, watery, New-Agey populist pap, regardless of country of origin. But sometimes a band will come sliding down the pike and they're just too goddamn good to ignore. Taraf de Haïdouks
('Band of Brigands,' in Romanian I believe) is such a band.
I first heard them on a record
of Kronos Quartet
collaborations with world-music-ish musicians of various nationality. The album was thoroughly mediocre, but the collaboration with Taraf de Haïdouks, "Turceasca," blew me away. So I sought out one of their albums, their self-titled debut
on Elektra's Asylum
imprint (which usually does/did country music I think). Surprise surprise, their non-Kronos stuff was even better. After spinning their own CD a few times, the collaboration version of "Turceasca" started to seem tame and mannered. The energy level of their own stuff is just insane, both really gutsy and blinding fast, like really good bluegrass when it starts cracking.
Anyway, check em out for yourself. The first two tracks are from their self-titled record, and are my favorite songs of theirs. Very short, but they're just perfect. I've also included their collaboration with the Kronos Quartet, which despite what I said about it being 'mannered' (only comparatively speaking) is also terrific.**DOWNLOAD** Taraf de Haïdouks - Rustem**DOWNLOAD** Taraf de Haïdouks - Briu**DOWNLOAD** Taraf de Haïdouks with the Kronos Quartet - Turceasca
[x-posted to my own livejournal