Ne Zhdali

Hey, Driver, Cool Down the Horses!!!

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It took four years for Ne Zhdali to release a proper follow-up to its debut LP. While Rhinoceroses and Other Forms of Life introduced the group to audiences in and around its native Estonia, Hey, Driver, Cool Down the Horses!!! launched its international career (and that of its leader, Leonid Soybelman, later to form Kletka Red), thanks to the Swiss label Rec Rec, which signed it. The previous album gave only a slight idea of the group's potential. This one is gloriously wild, shamelessly blending elements of punk, Rock in Opposition, and traditional party music from Russian and Jewish extractions. Exit the mathematical instrumental compositions; these songs scream, shout, and laugh. They tap into the Ex's energy but pair it to the craziness of Palinckx and the Stick Men to cover up the sweet-and-sour feelings of a country freed from communist oppression but unable to fulfill aspirations. The horn section (Vadim Veeremaa and Oleg Davidovitch) plays intentionally out of tune; the rhythm section (Ilya Komarov and Vitaly Redchits) grooves through complex beats and sudden left turns, making them sound logical, almost inevitable. On top of it all, Soybelman sings his songs of surreal love in Russian and occasional Hebrew. "Hungarian Young Years," "Greek Maturity," and "Chrysanthemums" are all exhilarating highlights, already hinting at Kletka Red's first album, Hijacking, minus the harshness. The mixing job of Momo Rossel (Nimal, L'Ensemble Rayé) dampens the impact of the group's colorful sound, which will reach its full glory on Whatever Happens, Twist! The sound quality matters little, though, and this CD is a must for fans of wacky avant rock: hummable, danceable, challenging -- and lots of fun.

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