Various Artists

The Very Best of Macedonia

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This album of Macedonian music was primarily licensed from the Macedonian Mister Company, with bits from Dutch and Turkish labels to boot. The major figures of Macedonian music are present here, from the older singers (such as Aleksandar Sarievski) to the young instrumentalists (such as Ilija Ampevski). The album starts out with a vocal work from the venerable Esma Redzepova before an accordion work from Milan Zavkov and a song from western Macedonian Biljan Stojanoski. Naat Veliov's Kocani Orkestar provides a somewhat stereotypical gypsy ensemble folk piece, Vaska Ilieva provides another song, and the Brass Band Maleshevski Melos pumps out a veritable college marching band number. A more contemporary songstress is shown off with Vidanka Djordjievska, and ARC stable artists Strune provide a great instrumental track. The great Sarievski's voice is recorded for the ages, followed by another piece from Melshevski Melos, a nice clarinet work from the young Ilija Ampevski, and a second track from Esma Redzepova to bring the listener back to the tone of the album's opening. While the music of Macedonia is a highly varied mix of sounds, the album manages to represent most of those sounds and presents them in a series that lends the works some sense of order and coherence. As with many compilations of ethnic musics, the album makes a grand starting point to jump off for deeper listening in the various sub-genres, but perhaps not the best album for people already acquainted thoroughly with the artists and genres that make up the country's music (at least when compared to full albums from the various artists). Pick it up as a curious listener first, and secondly as someone looking into a more varied structure of Macedonian music.

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