Album Review: Baro Drom Orkestar – Genau! [Musicastrada Production, 24th March 2017]

‘Power, Gypsy and Dance’ are three words that make up the magic formula for Genau! – ‘Exactly’ in German – the new album from the Baro Drom Orkestar. It is an album rich in the spirit of the Tuscan ensemble, blending overflowing rhythms and evoking dances from the world of gypsy music. You will hear Klezmer, Balkan and Armenian melodies with Southern Italian tarantella and pizzica from Salento (Apulia), along with whiffs of rock and ska (ish) rhythms. Produced by the independent Musicastrada Record label, Baro Drom Orkestar offer an innovative mix of original and non-original tracks that will certainly thrill anyone wanting to listen to gypsy bands, with a hint of the unconventional.

Meaning ‘Long Way’ in Romané language, Baro Drom opened the stage to Goran Bregovic in 2013 and 2016, playing more than five hundred live sets, at festivals and clubs across Europe over the last five years. In 2015, they collaborated with Goran Kovačević – Swiss accordion virtuoso for the album Jug, again produced by Musicastrada. In a nutshell; they bring on stage the rock side of gypsy music, so get your ears and feet ready to tremble.

The version of the classic Romani song ‘Sirba Izvoara’ is an explosive tribute to the traditional melodies of Romani music. On top of that, the quartet will surpass your expectations by adding Mediterranean hints in cahoots with unexpected melodic outcomes and speedups. ‘Pazzumpa’ is original, playful and nostalgic in passages.

‘Dance’ features Kovačević as a comrade-in-arms who skilfully plays his part in supporting the album’s propelling attitude. But it is ‘Ederlezi abballabba’ inviting you to engage with the quartet from Florence; the electric violin of Vieri Bugli and Modestino Musico’s accordion, conflate their melodic energies with the impetuous strums of Michele Staino at the electric double-bass and the up-thrusting, modified drums of Gabriele Pozzolini.

All in all, you’ll hear lively contours typical of the instrumental storytelling of the gypsy music tradition, as well as innovative and dynamic jiggles. In the name of deported minorities and forced displacement of people, due to war and major powers influencing local lives, gypsy music mirrors cultural tradition and sudden innovation at once. Genau! is an album not be missed, although it may take a little while longer to hear Baro Drom Orkestar exploring more vocals or complementary instrumental effects. For the time being, I can barely control my feet while typing.