Balkan Beat Box Balkan Beat Box

Balkan Beat Box is the product of two New Yorkers from Israel — Tamir Muskat and Ori Kaplan — who have brought along musicians from Bulgaria, Morocco, Spain and Turkey. The core duo were once members of freewheeling anarch-gypsy ensemble Gogol Bordello, but BBB are much heavier on the programming. Muskat’s song structures are pretty economical considering the potential burden of all the rhythmic influences. For instance, the standout track "Bulgarian Chicks,” which was a highlight of Shantel’s Bucovina Club 2, is basically a beat, a bass line, microtonal Bulgarian female vocals and a brass arrangement with a rhythmic feel like a reggae electric organ. The churning low tones of "Shushan” are punctuated by Kaplan’s sickly modulated and slurred saxophone contributions. "Hassan’s Mimuna” is electro-Jajouka that mixes in well with the vibe Cheb I Sabbah dropped on La Kahena earlier in the year. Israeli Surf punks Boom Pam drop by for a relaxed skank through "Gross.” This is a promising beginning for BBB, bridging the streets of New York to three continents. It’s hard to say whether a more polished production would help or harm the ideas; while some tunes show their compositional stitches, the stripped-down recording is part of the charm. (JDub)