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World Music CD Reviews Europe


By Justin Hopper
Published April 27, 2007

We Are The Shepherds
Essay Recordings

On his first album, Ukraine-to-Amsterdam transplant German Popov made declarative statements of intent, like Balkan-beat glasnost. The title track and club hit “Trans-Balkan Express” stated emphatically: This post-Soviet, modernized-gypsy groove is electronica’s new sound, the Kraftwerk of its generation. But Trans-Balkan Express couldn’t quite back it up. Aching from a thin sound, it bordered on gimmickry–particularly in the face of contemporaries such as Balkan Beat Box and Kal, and on the Borat soundtrack, next to the likes of Mahala Rai Banda. We Are the Shepherds shows that Popov’s missteps were more than just educational. Where Express was thin, Shepherds is subtle; where it was gimmicky, Shepherds is fresh and bold; where it was bandwagon-ish, Shepherds rides point. On “Shepherd Disco,” the production values of modern electro acts such as Adult or Ladytron back up its steppe-call samples. Shepherds has found the Cosmonaut-meets-Cosmopolitan quirk that Popov has sought–many happy returns.