On the magic carpet. 10 albums flying with the Balkan spirit

Let’s travel around the globe on the magic carpet with Selected Goosebumps. Image: lunamontem

It’s not a surprise that the traditional music from the Balkan peninsula has been spreading through countries and over the seas. Our today’s journey covers all possible destinations and unites the musicians with so diverse profiles and experiences. The thing that they have in common is that all of them are inspired by the Balkans.

1. Closingtown Orchestra – Theatrico (2020)

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🇭🇺 🇷🇴 🇳🇱 🇮🇹 Here are our first heroes. Four musicians from different European countries (Hungary, Romania, Italy and the Netherlands) created Closingdown Orchestra to embody their inspiration in the melodies and catchy rhythms.

These four lads fuse everything they feel appropriate for the deal, whether it’s rich ethnical motif, or prog rock structure which blows your mind. For sure, the spirit of the Balkans is in the core, hiding for the time being and swiftly collapsing over you.

Here we have the live EP as the latest recording to date. I believe this bright gem reflects the band’s foreseen success.

Get this album via bandcamp | spotify | deezer | apple.music | youtube.music

2. String Forces – MRTV Unplugged (2020)

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🇲🇰 This collective from Skopje successfully melts ethnic tones with progressive arrangements. last year they released a brilliant acoustic recording.

Check “Žar” for instant goosebumps, thanks to fantastic collaboration of oud, violin, cello, slide guitar, and def. Comparing two versions of “String Forces”, namely unplugged and in full force… I find them both amazing! Pretty sure, so should you.

Get this album via bandcamp

3. Mzaza – Journey Over Skin (2021)

🇦🇺 All of a sudden we arrive at Brisbane, Australia, to meet exceptionally bright star, the Mzaza ensemble.

You’ll listen to borderless music, rich in ethnic and international elements. Perhaps, it will be difficult to distinguish exact influences, as the septet’s preferences are so wide.

Alongside with Balkan music, Mzaza serves a blend of folk tunes from France, Spain, Middle Asia, and all around the world. Danse avec Mzaza!

Get this album via bandcamp | spotify | deezer | apple.music | youtube.music

4. Dej Še’n Litro – Na Mizo! (2020)

🇸🇮 For sure, brass big bands are essential for the Balkan countries. Slovenia, the northernmost of them, is not the most familiar place to meet such an act. That’s why it’s particularly interesting fact to investigate.

Well, Dej Še’n Litro is an ensemble with a long history, its’ own evolution and experience. Playing indoors and on the streets, this collective knows how to inspire the audience and make some noise.

“Na Mizo!”, originally released in 2008, now available in digital format, is an album which does not age at all. Traditional folk music here is reworked and supplemented by refined variations.

Get this album via bandcamp

5. Tome Iliev Sextet – Sketches of Macedonia (2019)

🇲🇰 🇨🇭 Tome Iliev is a talented clarinetist, originally coming from Kavadarci, Macedonia and residing in Switzerland.

Tome’s approach to the music is based on both academic and improvisational foundations. His bandmates share the ideas of the leader and create the complete orchestral sounding.

Needless to say that the pure Balkan voice is deeply inside the compositions from this album. Moreover, there is o lot form jazz and contemporary classical music, and we should not apply any standard to it.

Get this album via bandcamp | spotify | deezer | apple.music | youtube.music | yandex.music

6. Gypsy Ska Orquesta – Sabarabulé (2020)

🇻🇪 This time we find ourselves in Venezuela. Never thought that truba can be fused with cumbia? This collective picks the best from the Balkan art, Latin temper, and Arabic waves.

Fresh, dramatic and surprising album enriches the world music. It flies over the ocean to inspire citizens wherever they were born. We are all the auditory for Gypsy Ska Orquesta, as they really address to the whole planet, I believe.

Check any of these compositions, and you’ll find a storm waiting to raise. My favorite would be the last piece, “La Larga”, with its catchy repetitive whirlwind and so many voices heard in it.

Get this album via bandcamp | spotify | deezer | apple.music | youtube.music | yandex.music

7. Viatge Cie Aouta – Sans Frontières (2020)

🇫🇷 We are back to Europe, namely to France. Viatge collective explores all kinds of Mediterranean music and emits melodies full of expression.

Wind instruments join ancient and more ones, including harpsichord, eastern drums and tabla, accordion and voice.

The album is a soundtrack for a voyage along the Mediterranean coast. Medieval Europe, polyphonic Asia and even echoes from the distant corners of the world, all involved.

Get this album via bandcamp

8. Mama Chajes Orkestar – Rackarns (2020)

🇸🇪 From the south of Europe we move to the opposite edge. Here, in Sweden, musicians are paying attention to folk music no less. However, they experiment a lot as well.

In “Rackarns”, the Balkan heritage meets jazzy arrangements, klezmer influences and Nordic passion. Mama Chajes Orkestar deals with both fast tempo and calm transitions to let the heart relax a bit.

In turn, this music gives a listener audial excitement. Each your cell is going to bump again and again. Some sax solos do not count, as they charge the blood in your amused vessels.

Get this album via bandcamp | spotify | deezer | apple.music | youtube.music

9. Fokus – Mahala Massive (2020)

🇷🇸 Back to the heart of the Balkans, Serbia. And some electronic music to taste this time.

Ivan Andrijasevic, also known as Fokus, mixes ethnic tunes with advanced digital stuff. In his compositions, there is a room for jungle and dub, selected reggae tempos and scratches of all sorts.

Trying out “Mahala Massive” and other EPs by Fokus is like travelling to the various places in one time. You never know which ambience you’ll encounter in a minute. so nice feeling indeed!

Get this album via bandcamp | spotify | deezer | apple.music | youtube.music | yandex.music

10. Nav Izgaismots – Nav Izgaismots (2020)

🇱🇻 Our adventure eventually ends up in Latvia. Martial music for the knights? Yes, some kind of. Roman, Gypsy and tribal tones as well. Add a pinch of hard rock drive and electronic grout, and you’ll get approximate formula.

Fully underground EP with a weird sounding, weird in a good sense, I mean. Thoughtful and controversial, five tracks to trick yourselves.

Arriving somewhere in the middle of “Trimda”, we’ll dissolve completely in this embracing fusion.

Get this album via bandcamp

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