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Number five in Gothart's discography, Rakija'n'Roll completes the group's transformation from a tradtionalist's East-European folk ensemble to a Trad party band by mellowing the excesses found in Cabaret and achieving a compelling balance between energy, feeling, and accuracy. The group has also grown, now boasting a lineup of eight musicians, following the addition of accordionist Marko Vojtech and drummer Mitko Stancík. The tunes are mostly taken from the Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Romanian repertoires, and they are all given a young, fresh, beat-driven make-over. The group has perfected its approach to that of a world-class modern folk group. Arrangements are rich and speak to the soul (something that was slightly missing from Cabaret), especially between clarinet, violin and accordion, while the rhythm section has never been this exciting before, ploughing through the syncopated meters of East-European dance tunes. Highlights are numerous and include the opener "Beshena Rovena," an instant singalong, the feverish "Opa Cupa," and "Ushti, Ushti, Babo." "Se Omazich Mila Majko" and "Shto e Chudo Stanalo" also rank as strong moments. The ratio of instrumental tunes is smaller on this album, leaving more room to the singers (five members of the group sing lead at one point or another on the album) and their vocal harmonies. Here more than ever, Gothart tear down borders, showing how one can draw from several European traditions to create a distinctive group sound. Highly recommended.

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