CD Trans Balkan Express (CD 1094576),
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Trans Balkan Express

  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 002

  • Credits
    Producer
    Engineer

    In a nutshell, Our Man from Odessa (O.M.F.O. for short) has decided to blend East European folklore and kitsch electronica, and to give the results a title spoofing one of Kraftwerk's best-known LPs. The title track of Trans Balkan Express actually begins with the ascending chords from "Trans-Europe Express" played by an accordion over a chugging train-like loop. The track quickly chooses its own course, dominated by a Balkan-style melody, but the Kraftwerk spirit remains in the electronic accompaniment, and this kind of humor permeates the whole album. Accordion, duduk, cymbalom, and Jew's harp are given lead melodies in quirky wedding tunes let loose over cheap beatbox rhythms. O.M.F.O. occasionally add dub treatments to further emphasize his impossible cross-cultural fusion. No European culture is safe from O.M.F.O.'s good-intended thefts: Moravian, Russian, Macedonian, and Turkish (and probably a few more!) folk all get hijacked. "Gutsul Electro" is a laugh riot of Giorgio Moroder revision. "Chupino" and "Drimba 'n' Bass" are folk tunes dressed up as retro-futuristic anthems. The accordion is given a special feature in the album's middle third, which tends to slow down the pace (not because of the tempo, but the difference in variety) and doesn't always give convincing results, as in the overlong "Sirtaki on Mars," but that's the only case where O.M.F.O.'s recipe fails. Everything else is marvelously varied, upbeat, unpredictable, and good-humored. "Space Hora Dub," with its breathy lead flute, provides a slower highlight, while "Gutsul Electro," "Chachak," "Drimba 'n' Bass," and the title track all stand out as irresistibly silly foot-stompers. Despite its high entertainment value, Trans Balkan Express goes beyond the novelty hit and promises good replay value, too. If you have a thing for kitsch, this is the kind of album you could cherish for a long time. ~ Franois Couture

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