Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kan Marau La

Fanfare Ciocarlia (roughly, Skylark Band) is a Romanian Roma band that is beautiful total chaos. They are best known for a very fast (200+ bpm), high-energy sound, with complex, rapid rhythms and solos. They are also known for using no sheet music in their performances, randomly blasting their horns in the middle of songs, and for playing old, battered instruments onstage.

Since being convinced to leave their village of Zece Prajini in 1996, the twelve-man assemblage of brass, woodwinds, and percussion have played over 1000 concerts in over 50 countries. The majority of their lyrics are in Romanian, but the group borrows musical elements from Roma, Balkan, Muslim, Slavic, and Indian music (also, a fabulous cover of the James Bond theme). Western audiences might recognize them from their contribution of "Born to Be Wild" in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan or their collaboration with electronica-dance artist [dunkelbunt].

FC is interesting from a tuba stand-point in that the group uses a two-tuba system: a BBb helicon and an F helicon playing separate parts for maximum tuba density and intensity. I particularly enjoy their album Queens and Kings, which includes interesting collaborations with people who I can only assume are popular Eastern European musicians that happen to have singing voices modeled after Western cartoon characters. Either way, this band is awesome.

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