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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Dj Russ Jones And Felix B

By Stacy Meyn
Published March 30, 2007

Gypsy Beats and Balkan Bangers
Atlantic Jaxx Recordings

Russ Jones (Future World Funk) and Felix B (Basement Jaxx) compile Gypsy Beats and Balkan Bangers—a festive and feisty party. The blossoming Eastern European dance scene allows Gypsies and Balkans alike to capitalize on their abilities and opportunities to bring traditional music to the rhythmic forefront. “Bucovina” is the Balkan dance anthem, thrice reworked by Germany's DJ Shantel. Bucharest-based Mahala Raï Banda (“Noble Band From The Ghetto”) mixes military brass and young urban Gypsy style. While Balkan Beat Box gives a shout-out to “Bulgarian Chicks,” N.O.H.A.'s “Balkan Hot Step” drives a Nike ad and Radio 1’s Gilles Peterson. Fanfare Ciocarlia gives us the “James Bond Theme” we should have heard while the Iron Curtain was still drawn. Gogol Bordello’s “Start Wearing Purple” blends “Gypsy punk” with reggae—two cultures whose underclass has little else but music. Bonus tracks by Mahala Raï Banda and Shantel get the Brixton Basement treatment.