Gogol Bordello

Super Taranta!

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Gogol Bordello is a group that will never slow down. Album after album, show after show, Eugene Hütz and his group of enthusiastic, disheveled gypsies continue to make fantastically inventive, provocative, smart, raucous music that refuses to be categorized or confined. But Gogol Bordello isn't trying to separate itself from the crowd in order to limit its audience, to attract only a select group of people; instead, their inclusion of so many different musical forms -- besides gypsy, there's also dub, punk, flamenco, Italian folk, and reggae on Super Taranta! -- only serves to broaden their allure, to give them a kind of universal appeal that transgresses geographic and cultural boundaries. It's the pure form, rather than the homogenized, that's stifling and limited. "I wanna walk this earth like it is mine/And so is everyone in our fun-loving tribe/C'mon man, is that real so much to ask?" Hütz asks in his charming dialectic English in the song "Tribal Connection," gently prodding his listeners to move beyond themselves and their cultural restraints and to look towards a globalized society where birthplace and familial origin are only two factors of many. He pokes fun at the U.S. ("Have you ever been to American wedding?/Where is the vodka, where is marinated herring?"), but it's in a lighthearted way, from someone who's benefited from its diversity, and though he's sometimes nostalgic for home (in "Suddenly...(I Miss Carpaty)," for example) it's also clear he has an affection for the country he now lives in. The album itself is Gogol Bordello's usual mix of riotous gypsy rhythms, fast string and accordion work, and loud guitars, but there's also a melodiousness here that comes out more strongly than on the band's previous albums, an underlying darkness that hints at the problems in the world without succumbing to them. "I can't go on, I will go on" Hütz repeats over and over (paraphrasing Samuel Beckett) in "Forces of Victory," the tension in his voice and the music working together to express the struggle holding him, and all people, back. This is what he's best at, actually, his ability to convey the common human experience, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or even language. Hütz, like every great vocalist -- and he is one, although not in the traditional sense -- doesn't rely on only the safety net of words to communicate his message, so even when he sings in Ukrainian or English or whatever else, his intent, his ideas, his passion (and needless to say those of the band, who combine rustic folk progressions with modern punk stylings seamlessly) is always comprehensible. Super Taranta! is the culmination of superb musicianship, endless energy, and an inborn sense of fun and a dedication to progression and innovation, and if that's not something to celebrate and dance to, it's hard to know what is.

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