Club Contact

The new MP3 blog from London's club Contact. The idea is to allow people to hear new music they wouldn't have otherwise found but, if anyone has any copyright issues with a particular song, i'll take the link down. Songs are only available for a limited amount of time.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Gypsies. What's not to love? Subjected to relentless persecution for centuries, decimated during the Holocaust and victims of violence and oppression even today within the EU, the Roma people have, to say the very least, had it tougher than most. However, their contribution to European music has been absolutely enormous.

Although the films of Emir Kusturica and the music of Goran Bregovic have popularised the music of the Roma and alerted the world to their continuing plight, many feel that both sell a lazy, patronising, commercialised view of a complex culture and folk music. Traditionalists point to the legendary Taraf de Haïdouks as a better starting point. It probably goes without saying that they're completely unconnected to Haïduci, the group who did the awful spoiler version of Dragostea Din Tei that was inexplicably more popular in France than O-Zone's one.

Anyway, this is still, more or less, a pop blog rather than a film critique or historical lecture so i thought i'd present three dynamic pop-rock groups influenced by the Haïdouks. I can not, however, take responsibility for any twirly dancing or plate smashing injuries that may result from listening to them.

Given the country's tragic reputation for trafficking its daughters into the German and Russian sex industries, it's probably not a good idea to enter the words "Moldovan hardcore" into a search engine while at work. Having said that, you might come across something about Chisinau punk stars Zdob Si Zdub. Huge at home, in Russia and in Romania, they've moderated their harder edges over the years and will be familiar to UK readers for their memorable performance at the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv accompanied by the true star of the evening, an old lady with a big drum. Their early, rockier stuff from the Hardcore Moldovenesc and Tabara Noastra albums is frequently superb but the big commercial breakthrough came with 2003's 450 di Oi record, from which i've taken the song DJ Vasile.

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Perhaps not as directly influenced by the Roma traditions but still packing a lot of infectious energy and ramshackle charm are Tatu’s favourite group, Leningrad. Sergei Shnurov’s folk-punk band remain one of the best selling acts in Russia. Fiercely proud of their native St Petersburg the group have frequently been banned from performing in the capital, largely, it is said, because Moscow’s mayor Yuri Luzhkov has it in for them. Their music combines modern elements of rock and hip-hop with the sounds of an old-fashioned Russian knees-up and lyrics which generally focus on vodka, drinking vodka and doing stupid things having drunk vodka.

All their records are excellent, 2005's joint album with London's Tiger Lillies, Huinya, included. WWW is taken from Pirati XXI Veka.

Buy Leningrad stuff

It's probably fair to say that bands produced by Steve Albini and played on the Zane Lowe show will not be making regular appearances on this site but New York's Gogol Bordello are something of a unique proposition so i'll make an exception. Led by Eugene Hutz who, the story goes, was evacuated from Ukraine when Chernobyl went wrong, and referencing everything from ZsZ and Leningrad to The Cramps and Nick Cave, they're one of the most interesting US groups i've come across in a while. They have a fantastic manifesto, a renowned live show (coming to London fairly soon) and a string of very good albums, the latest being 2005's Albini-produced Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike.

When The Trickster Starts A-Poking (Bordello Kind Of Guy) is from the previous one, Multi Kontra Culti vs Irony.

Buy Gogol Bordello stuff


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