Album Review: Fanfare Ciocărlia – 20 (Ashpalt Tango, 17th June 2016)

Gypsy brass legends Fanfare Ciocărlia have been making music for over two decades, and to celebrate they have just released 20, a beautifully packaged retrospective LP bringing together some of their best work to capture the boundless energy that has gained them a well-earned following on the global world music scene.

Released as it is on vinyl, this double album is more geared towards die-hard fans, those who according to Asphalt Tango have constantly requested that the group’s early recordings be made available on this format. But 20 still does what any good compilation should do for listeners new to the band, acting as a fairly comprehensive introduction to their music and a potted history of their back catalogue that includes a number of their hits and notable collaborations.

There is also the option of a digital version for those who may be put off by the vinyl’s price tag. The accompanying booklet is also beautifully compiled, featuring a number of up-close and personal pictures of the band members and an intimate and enchanting glimpse into their world.

The four sides are roughly themed (A – Roots, B- Orient, C – Jams, D – Amigos), aptly demonstrating the breadth of the group’s abilities and interests, from deep rooted village traditions to cutting edge fusion, as well as the global scope and appeal of their musical journey. Look out for classic tracks such as ‘Lume Lume’, a live version of ‘Summertime’, featuring some spectacularly over the top vocals, and their unique rendering of Duke Ellington’s ‘Caravan’, a favourite of DJ’s the world over.

20 is a well presented record, and whilst there isn’t much new material on show, the 26 tracks still make for a feast of Balkan blues and high-octane gypsy brass funk which should satisfy any music lover. For those of you wanting the latest from Fanfare Ciocărlia, look to their other recent release Onwards To Mars (Asphalt Tango, April 2016) which sees them on top form as always blending tradition with innovation on 14 brand new tracks.