Balkan Beat Box Nu Med

Fake crowd noise on the first song of any disc is suspect but in the case of world music collective Balkan Beat Box, it makes total sense. This nine-piece band formed by Israeli-born New Yorkers Tamir Muskat (percussion) and sax player Orin Kaplan mix numerous global grooves into their very live-sounding new release, Nu Med. The beauty of this album is that Muskat and Kaplan, who were both members of world music-friendly indie rock bands Firewater and Gogol Bordello, are creative enough to use hip-hop, dancehall reggae, funk and especially dub reggae as musical templates for this ethno mash-up. Timeless Gypsy, Arabic, Jewish and Balkan melodies are seamlessly woven into these 14 tracks, with dub reggae providing the musical anchor for the best songs. Starting with "Habibi Min Zaman,” an electro-driven excursion mixing myriad Middle Eastern sounds with singer Dunia’s tranced-out Egyptian vocalese. On "Hermetico,” which sounds like BBB’s signature tune, MC Tomer Yosef drops an up-rocking lyrical flow to the track’s dancehall/hip-hop beats, which are laced with strains of gypsy and Klezmer. "Pachima” is a pulsing, vibrant tune built around Rai singer Gilber Gilmore’s dubbed-out Moroccan chants. Another point of musical interest is "Delancey,” with its call and response vocals and sinewy gypsy melodies riding an organic two-step beat. But the standout song is "Joro Boro,” showcasing London Bulgarian Choir singer Dessislava Stefanova’s ethereal vocal swoops, which are gracefully encased in tight techno dub riddims. With the exception of a few clichéd hip-hop/dancehall missteps by Mc Tomer, Nu Med is a must have for lovers of music that’s global and beat-wise. (JDub)