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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Kal

By Robert Kaye
Published March 16, 2007

Kal
Asphalt Tango 0906

The vision of Serbian vocalist/guitarist Dragan Ristic, Kal is a sextet from Belgrade’s urban ’burbs that has produced a genuinely invigorating Balkan album, which, while honoring its proud Roma heritage, also embraces the multi-culti world in which it resides. The album is resplendent with a hodgepodge of sounds, grooves, instrumentation and influences including bhangra rhythms, Hawaiian steel guitars, accordion-inspired tangos, compound meters and even some rapid-fire tabla bols. This heady Gypsy mishmash is infused with 21-century production skill and electronica-created beats and textures. Recorded in Ristic’s makeshift home studio, the album’s production belies its tumbledown origins. Ristic had the foresight to employ veteran producer Mike Nielsen, whose credits include Natacha Atlas and Jamiroquai. With its creative concoction of (mostly) acoustic instruments and studio gimmickry, Kal’s self-titled debut bodes well. If Ristic and Co. can create the same eclectic energy in their stage performances, they’ll have it made.