Honestly? I am amazed by how Gogol Bordello is consequent with their music and their career. For years now (yes! Hard to believe but it’s been 11 years!) they continue to amaze us with their great, energetic, crazy records full of Gypsy, punk, Eastern European influences and – basically – whatever else you want. Just type it in. You’ll find Balkan motifs here, Latin American motifs, lots of Gypsy violin, intense chords and rhythms and, most of all, the amazing Eugene Hütz, whose voice does the whole thing – it’s rough, it’s punk, it’s melodic, it has got this amazing, crazy taste of a Slavonic accent. Well, Gogol Bordello are one of a kind and they’re very hard to get confused with anything else.
And yes, this album is not different from the other albums of Gogol Bordello. You get amazing violin, accordion (mostly in minor-key), sometimes it reminds you of old Eastern European revolutionary songs. If I had to compare it to anything, I would say that Gogol Bordello is inspired by Gypsy music in a way that Ashkenazi Jewish Music influences Psoy Korolenko and Daniel Kahn on their album Unternationale. If I had to make any grand metaphors to explain what kind of music is it, I’d have to say… damn, this is one of the few bands I’d like to have playing on my wedding 😀 And, yes, I’m not kidding – and it’s not only because of their famous hit American Wedding.
What I absolutely love about Trans-Continental Hustle is that it’s consequent, crazy, emotional and it’s not tiring. It is a powerful and intense record. Only sometimes it gets lyrical – the lovely Sun Is on My Side is a perfect example, with a Russian-influenced chorus supported by sentimental parts of accordion. Basically it’s a huge, huuuuuge (I mean it) Gypsy punk frenzy! So? That’s something Gogol Bordello has always done and they still remain fresh and true to their route. Something that can never be underestimated.
To understand more, what you’re dealing with, you should probably have a look at the current lineup of the band. Let’s see. The frontman is Ukrainian/Gypsy. Also, we’ve got two Russians, two Americans, one Israeli, one guy from Ecuador, one Ethiopian and a girl from Scotland. Former band members included mostly Romanians and Israelis. Speaking of former Israeli band members – a hint of what is is going on here may give you the fact that Ori Kaplan who used to play the saxophone in Gogol Bordello is now a co-leader of the Balkan Beat Box… Well, simply speaking, Gogol Bordello is basically similar when it comes to the genre (or genres) of music, however they’re not into hip-hop and whereas Balkan Beat Box tends to base their music on Middle Eastern/Jewish/hip-hop/Balkan foundations, Gogol Bordello switches “Middle Eastern/Jewish/hip-hop” to “Eastern European/Gypsy/punk”…
A few highlights:
When Universes Collide – very intense piece, strongly rooted in Eastern European music, with a powerful string section (especially violin)
Sometimes you get amazing Latin American/Spanish influences – Uma Menina, My Companjera, In the Meantime in Pernambuco
Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher) – fusion of Eastern European music, Gypsy melodies, Latin American influences and anarchist/punk/revolutionary lyrics. Moreover, it starts with a reggae-like feeling, becomes strongly punk and you get highly flamenco-fueled guitar. Totally crazy! Tastes delicious! Definitely one of my favorites.
Raise the Knowledge – a mix of flamenco, African songs and, of course gypsy punk. And remember… “Revolution is internal/Evolution is not over (…) so rise the knowledge, rise!” 😉