Kal Kal

With so much of what a western audience accepts as "world” music being basically watered down traditional or fusions designed to appeal to a western sensibility of what the world sounds like, it is so refreshing to find an album that drops the pretences, and is as forceful about having its own identity as bringing that identity into a global context, not a western one (or have we forgotten that we are not the world?) Kal are strong, occasionally harsh, and consistently unapologetic. From Belgrade, they sport a "rock’n’roll attitude,” which might explain some of the "take no prisoners” attitude. This isn’t to imply that the music is consistently harsh or grinding — it’s a total mixed bag, with some sweet ballads like "DJlem, DJlem,” which is a traditional tune arranged by the band’s leader, Dragan Ristic. But then there is "Dvojka,” which randomly busts out into Indian solcatu at one part, nicely situated among the funky bass and virtuosic violin solos (the whole thing is vaguely reminiscent of the band’s stated influence from Manu Chao). "Guberetski Tango” brings out all the soul of a tango orchestra, and I never thought I’d say it, but makes me love the accordion. Every track offers something different. Fabulous and furious — this is an album with true Romani musical courage, and an awe-inspiring final product. (Fox Atomic)