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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

Folk Dance Ensemble Vila

By Ernest Barteldes
Published June 6, 2008

Music Of Serbia
ARC Music

The civil war that tore the former Yugoslavia into pieces in the 1990s rightfully took our focus away from the music of the region, but with relative peace having broken out since, we’re presented with this beautiful collection of folk songs from a group whose numerous members dedicate themselves to preserving Serbian and other Slavic folk traditions. The opener “Skopso Oro” is a festive instrumental Macedonian song that sets the tone for the entire album. “Sedam Sati Udara,” by contrast, takes on a more serious mood, paying homage to 19th-century hero Karadjorge (“Black George”), who was a key figure in the wars against the Turkish Empire. “Djilaben, Bašalen, Romalen” is a tribute to the gypsies of the region, whose music heavily influenced the mother country’s  dances, and “Gora Jeci” is a haunting vocal-based tune from Kosovo that, according to the liner notes, “describes the mentality of the people of that area”—a still-fledgling nation with hope for the future.