The soundtrack to the movie Latcho Drom is more than just accompanying music -- it's a journey in itself. And that journey is the one of the Gypsies, whose roots are in India, but who have spread throughout Asia and Europe. In fact, the word Gypsy comes from a derivation of Egyptian, where, centuries ago, the Romany people were believed to have gotten their start. The first four tracks here set the scene, coming from Rajasthan, in India, where tradition still rules strongly, before moving to the stranger music of Egypt, performed by the Musicians of the Nile, who've played there for centuries, and whose sound evokes nothing less than history. But the march is relentless, moving on to Turkey. There, like everywhere else, the Gypsies adapted their music, mixing it with local forms, in this case the sounds of the Silk Road, which had its origins in Istanbul and Constantinople. At this point the music begins to take on the feel of what's popularly thought of as Gypsy music, reaching full flower in the Balkans, with the relentless, virtuosic sound of Taraf de Haidouks from Romania. But there's definitely a darker side to this. The Hungarian lament "Cigany Himnusz" is accompanied by the sound of rail cars, a reminder that many Gypsies died in the Holocaust, a memory reinforced by the chilling, unaccompanied "Auschwitz." But Gypsy music didn't stop in Central Europe, and "Kali Sara" and "Tchavolo Swing," with their Hot Club of France influence -- the great Django Reinhart himself was of Gypsy blood. It ends in Spain, on the edge of Europe, where Gypsy music has had a strong influence on flamenco (as has North African music -- the sound associated with Spain is packed with outside influence). All the music is superbly performed, even if most of the names are largely unknown. But fame isn't the point here; this shows how far the Romany people have come, and the music they've made.
AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson