Café Svetlana

Essay AYCD20


Full Price (60 mins)

Originally published in Songlines.

The Balkan scene in Vienna has been quietly cooking away for some years now: first local DJ Ulf Lindemann aka Dunkelbunt worked with everyone from Fanfare Ciocarlia to the Amsterdam Klezmer Band and set dancefloors alight at his Balkan Hot Step nights; Binder and Krieglstein with their quirky klezmer inflected sub-pop, and now the debut record of Czech/Macedonian DJ Ahilea. Most of the album is not bass-heavy club anthems, but lighter, more obviously swinging mid-tempo grooves: plenty of chopped up guitar and accordion chops alongside tapan drum rhythms to keep things chugging along nicely. While the largely instrumental grooves tend to be understated, there are plenty of thrilling, snaking solos from a stylish cross-Balkan émigré band: on ‘Kalabalak’, Turkish Macedonian clarinet player Hidan Mamudov sounds every bit as commanding as the great Selim Sesler, and accordion player Mitke Sarlandziev on opening track ‘Café Svetlana’ sounds like he could go on conjuring up those lithe, meandering melodies all night. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, and it’s not the kind of record that will crash its way into the mainstream, but there’s plenty of subtle quality here to keep Balkanheads quietly nodding in approval.

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