Various Artists

Balkan Grooves

Eastblok EBM016


Full Price (60 mins)

Originally published in Songlines.

And so the Balkan train rolls on. Berlin label Eastblok – one of the first to the party with DJ Robert Soko’s excellent Balkan Beats series – are often the first to introduce new artists from the region. Opening track ‘Raise Up Your Hand’ from Kiril feat. Ras Tweed and Esma is a definite floor filler – swirling acid bass, Jamaican MC and even a guest appearance from the greatest Balkan vocalist of all Esma Redzepova. The Jutasi remix of ‘Trubulek Vorba’ from electronica crew Anima Sound System – one-time Asian Dub Foundation collaborators – doesn’t do justice to this pioneering Hungarian band whose albums ‘Shalom” and “Gipsy Sound Clash” over ten years ago show how far ahead of the pack they were; band name of the year goes to Slovenian Leni Kravac (pronounced Leni kravats, meaning ‘Lazy Little Cow”) although his Balkan brass plus drum’n’bass track ‘Zajednica’ has too little drum, bass or brass to do anything meaningful; ‘Oci’ by runners-up Fagget Fairys is a slick, bassy pop affair that does the job for the Bosnian-Danish duo, albeit without coming close to their killer erotic electro anthem ‘Feed the Horse’. On too many of these tracks, the production is mediocre and the Balkan element feels like a lazy afterthought. Only one conclusion – if not even pioneers like Eastblok can find enough consistent quality to fill another compilation, then the tap has probably run dry. Thanks, Balkan Club scene, it was great and we had fun, but it’s time to move on.

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