Choban: Elektrik (2012)
Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Jordan Shapiro extends the reach of Balkan music with a gentrified twist, hinting at a New York City downtown aura amid the indigenous fundamentals that coalesce into a variegated offering. With straight-four backbeats, streaming violins, harmonious vocal chants and dreamy electronics maneuvers, the album presents a nouveau spin on traditional southeastern European folk.
"Beratche from Prespa" is an Albanian dance, treated with Shapiro's psychedelic guitar parts, concocted on grunge-rock and gravelly keyboards-based intonations. With linear progressions, the piece strikes a balance between reckless abandon, playful havoc, and a rather holistic stance, thrusting Balkan music into unshielded terrain.
Shapiro seldom forsakes the Balkan vibe, but embeds the core attributes within a layered approach, offering a sliding scale of sorts, between customary fare and post-modern expansionism. The band's divergent tactics waver between progressive rock, psycho-rock, jazzy inflections and other genre-crossing factors that fluctuate on a per-track basis. A compelling artistic statement, modeled with a clear-sighted vision that sustains interest via a highly entertaining form factor.
Personnel: Jordan Shapiro: Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, electric guitar, accordion, piano, Ensoniq TS-12 synthesizer; Dave Johnsen: electric bass; Phil Kessler: drums, kanjira, marimba, riq, pandeiro, tuned bronze alloys.
Record Label: Self Produced