Electric Gypsyland

Various Artists

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Electric Gypsyland Review

by Chris Nickson

It's rare to find a remix album that really works, but this does. Four Balkan gypsy groups reworked in any number of ways might sound limiting, but the studio wizards here have managed to retain the spirit of the original tracks while taking them in very eclectic directions. From the work of Arto Lindsay and Melvin Gibbs on "Mugur Mugurel," which recalls the adventurous no wave era of downtown New York, to the glory of Lightning Head's "L'Orient Est Rouge," where African soukous and house music mix gloriously with the original, this is a delight. Turkey's Mercan Dede brings his hypnotic sensibilities to "Siki, Siki Baba," while Olaf Hund's "Are You Gypsified?" medley is nothing less than mad, creating a jam session among three of the bands that veers with loving drunkenness all over the road. The musicianship of the gypsy musicians isn't in question when they include the worldbeating Taraf de Haidouks and Kocani Orkestar, although the virtuosity isn't the important element here. Instead, the remixers exploit the melodies and the feel while surprising with context, as Bucovina Club do on "Carolina" -- a dancehall/Balkan mash-up no one could have anticipated, but which whets the appetite for the rest of the disc. Where the European version contains 13 tracks, the North American release adds two bonus cuts, including Taraf de Haidouks' "A la Turk" given the full house treatment by Cop & Thief in a manner that could make it a club favorite. This is the kind of disc that renews your faith in the possibilities of the remix.

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