Magnifico

Magnification

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Slovenian star Magnifico (not one to hide his light under a bushel) makes music that is indisputably Balkan -- there's plenty of brass -- but mixed up with hip-hop, disco, and even on "Pismu Komo" a touch of country; weirdly, the pedal steel guitar works very well with it all (as it does on the greasy, dubby "Amore"). Because it's such a whirled-together mélange, both musically and linguistically, it has the feeling of a guilty pleasure, and he can switch from dance music to a more traditional sound in the middle of a song. "Did You" alters moods several times, for instance. It's disorienting at first but soon feel strangely natural. The musical magpie syndrome gives it a feel that runs beyond borders, and can be quite epic, as on "Ljuba," where an orchestra enters, accompanied by spaghetti Western guitar. Ultimately, it's all modern pop with cultures put in a blender. It's smart, sly, and decidedly catchy. "The Land of Champions" takes "House of the Rising Sun" to a place few had ever previously imagined, and it works wonderfully well, while the closer, "Modern," quotes from "Spanish Flea" quite cheekily. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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