Taraf de Haïdouks

The Continuing Adventures of Taraf de Haidouks

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There are times you want to laugh at this album. Not because it's awful, but from the ridiculous virtuosity of all the members of the band. And no track here shows the qualities better than the epic "The Stork Crosses the Danube, in the Company of a Raven," which showcases not only blinding fiddle playing, but also the kind of accordion playing that sounds impossible -- but obviously isn't. And there's no studio trickery -- this is all live. The village gypsy music from Romania is heady stuff, whether songs like "Cintec de Dragoste Si Joc" (which bears a curious resemblance to "Mystery Train"!) or fiery little party pieces like the brief "Hora de Mina Si de Picior." It's an extroverted sound, played with absolute genius, and often at a pace that seems to defy possibility, carrying the listener headlong through the tunes, but with a sense of fun and joy. They're masters of their craft, but they perform with throwaway inspiration -- the untitled ninth track could almost be the soundtrack to an old Loony Tunes cartoon (although a very surreal one). Sheer, overwhelming brilliance.

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