''They always were afraid that I was Schitzophrenic!!''
Thundering drums, scratching ska guitars, old world gypsy viola and accordian, and the most magnetic, charismatic and exciting frontman this side of the millenium. Gogol Bordello are truly something special. Mixing the deep and exciting rhythms of the most eccentric world music, the bouncing rhythms of reggae and ska, and the crazed excitement of rock n roll's biggest personalities.
From thier first UK single, which was picked up by punk rockers, musos, indie kids and passive music fans alike.. 'Start Wearing Purple' could have left people thinking they were a one hit wonder, just a novelty. But Gogol Bordello have deeper roots than that. At the centre of New York's live scene, the multi national band carved out a fantastic gypsy punk dub explosion with which to win over audiences.
The album begins with 'Sally' the opening noises of a ska rhythm and unintelligable gypsy gibberings from the charismatic yet frightening Eugene Hutz. The band slowly biulds up behind his manic storytelling, until finally exploding into the main beat of the song. With loose violin and accordian melodies battling for attention with the heavy ''Boom-Boom'' of the drums. Eugene Hutz sounds as if the noises are closing in around him, as he becomes increasingly more paranoid and gittery. This song is a great opener for the record, as it brings the sound of the band at its best to the very beginning of the record alongside great story telling, mixed with unusual poetic imagery.
A fast paranoid drum beat along with squealing violin and girls tears the second track 'I would never wanna be young again' wide open and right to shreds. Eugene once again sounds as though is life is in immediate danger. The semi-biographical themes of immigration and world travels makes for an interesting tale, although much of it is eccentrically far fetched, Gogol Bordello sound like they've seen quite a bit. The screams added by producer Steve Albini make for great urgency within the song, and it literally chases you.
''Drop The Charges!''
Opening with a guitar riff, with gypsy tongued shouts of defiance opens up to a fantastic bouncing gypsy tune. With the guitar low in the mix, this sounds like an old gypsy relic of a song. The song is about the common subject of marijuana, citing it as an inspiration, and calling for legislation. ''In the old times, it was NOT A CRIME!'' although the song never makes it explicit that they are calling for marijuana legislation, the dub soundscapes and occasional reggae references make the point quite clear.
The dub reggae influences become more clear on 'Immigrant Punk' while the lyrics follow the same biographical tale of Eugene Hutz's jouney in America. Discovering punk rock, and taking in the melting pot of cultures in New York city. Not only this, but his lament of being pigeon holed in with the white society. The Hip Hop, Reggae, Jazz, Punk and Thrash called for him, and led to him forming several bands before Gogol Bordello. Perhaps a better description to ''Gypsy Punk'' as a sound for this record would be ''Immigrant Punk'' as it takes in influences from many different American Sub-cultures and communities.
'60 Revolutions per minute' is a play on words of the revolutions of the disc, instead being revolutionary action. If this did mean rpm, it would not be very impressive. Your record players already do thirty three revolutions, and your CD player goes between 180 and 500 rpm. Anyway, this song is a very good punk gypsy crossover, with load guitars making appearences not just as ska rhythms. With many crosses between Ukrainian and English at great speed, aswell as a cast array of percussion driving the track forward. This even gets so far as to include aSlayer
riff from the classic Riegn in Blood record. I cannot recall which track as I listen to records only as a complete.
The noisy fun continues for the next few tracks, 'Avenue B' remarks back to the character Sally from the first song, and features a smooth accordian solo. 'Dogs were Barking' is the explosive tale of Eugene's wedding, with Ukrainian from the father of the bride and an expression of all the exitement of the day. 'Oh No' swings a great melodious chant of ''Oh Yeah, Oh No!'' with Eugene's lament and joy at the different music and cultures around him. This one features another more bouncy accordian solo, which is very different to the one previous.
Most people by now have heard and giggled at 'Start Wearing Purple' many believing it to be a celebration of the camp. It is actually a love song, you see in tradition, when one is mourning thier lost lover they wear black, and once they are looking for someone new, they wear purple. This is a solemn yet noisy request for a love interest to cheer up and give them a chance. This is one of the most gypsy inspired songs on the record, and also the most ludicrous song on the record. It's just a bit of fun really, but unfortunately it puts alot of would be fans off of the band.
The fiddle driven ''Think Locally, *** Globally'' drives forward heavily, with Eugene simply wailing and spitting for a large part of the song, before breaking down into purely percusion. One of the record's highlights. The message of the title being pretty much the entire mission of Gogol Bordello. This explosive song gives way to the slow rocksteady dub of 'Underdog World Strike' this continues the message of the former. Sounding much like an Augustus Pablo dub plate, with the accordian replacing the melodica used by the aformentioned artist.
The simplist track comes next built up mostly of a simple acoustic tune, and Hutz's poetic anti war soulful protest. Slowly Bass and backing vocals stop the song from soudning too sparse, and opening up the soundscape for the next tracks.
The final three tracks follow mostly gypsy style music. Gypsy styles are certainly more apparent on this record than rock, as there is only one American in the band, and they play drums. Which doesn't give them much artistic license. The semi biographical 'Undestructable' is a deep song concerning Hutz's growing paranoia all the a heavy bassline and sweetly tuneful fiddle and accordian.
This was the best record of last year, not only with the surprise that the writers of a gimmicky and unlikely pop hit had so much substance. But also, Steve Albini who has produced some incredibley heavy and abrasive sonic records could produce such a rich and vibrant record with as much soul as protest.