Mahala Raï Banda Mahala Raï Banda

After centuries of diaspora, Balkan Gypsy music has arrived in a big way. Mahala Raï Banda is a new group from the Gypsy ghetto of Bucharest. For a culture that has faced such adversity, this is a surprisingly spirited genre. Mahala Raï Banda’s debut album erupts with passion as violins, accordions, drums, cymbalum and a selection of brass instruments are fuelled by a funky rhythm section. These circus-flavoured tunes will awaken anyone from inertia. From the slithering and catchy beat of "Iest Sexy" to the eastern-tinged melancholy of "Morceau d’amour," it's a startling collection of songs. The originality of Mahala Raï Banda must be attributed to its roots. The band was formed by two people related to the legendary gypsy duo of Taraf de Haïdouks. The other artists spent most of their lives playing in the army band during the Communist regime. It’s an odd combination, and it totally works. Even at its most raucous, you can discern a military precision to many of the arrangements. But thanks in part to "electrogypsy whiz" producer Shantel, everything flows together. (Crammed)