Piranha Records/Asphalt Tango Records
CD-ATR 0203, 2003
label website
Balkan Gipsy music on uncut amphetamines! The aggressively double-daring title Can't make me! merely hints at the adolescent recklessness, over-the-top virtuosity and carefree irreverence at work, the cover art and hilarious twin logos of the Berlin label that dared publish this recording adding further elements of - er, suggestiveness. Butting heads, anyone?

Ivo Papasov meets Bratsch, Arbat, Loyko, Nicolae Gutsa and Tchaika all rolled into one chilli-pepper laden canoli of rip-roaring, fire-breathing fun, with the Hungarian lyrics, apparently, every bit as brazenly direct as the instrumental high-wire act. "Pussy needs no horse shoes, 'coz if it needed one, night and day it would run. Pussy eats no lentils, no peaches nor cherries. Feeds on meat like a lion cub, swallows it and throws it up." Or how about "I can't be a loser, only a wheel choser, I go for the girls with the tightest body. Cheap thrills is the best, we need the fake nails, the black mails. Well, this is not how I see it..."

Based out of Budapest and formed in 1999, Besh o droM is a modern-day 10-head Bulgarian Wedding Music band on the far side of the Cirque de Soleil, mixing Bulgarian, Romanian, Hungarian, Greek, Lebanese, Armenian and Afghani tunes with cabaret, Rap, faux Klezmer, Jazz scatting, scratching, Indian-style vocal percussion and high-octane chops. In short, they're making true on their tongue-in-cheek double-entendre name that means "sit on the road", "follow your path and get on with it" as well being a word play on "I'm rolling (a cigarette)".

Brothers-in-law Ádám Pettik (derbuka, water can, percussion, lead vocal) and Gergo Barcza (alto saxophone, ney, vocal) lead Sidoo Attila (guitar, vocal), Csurkulya József (cimbalom, vocal), Tóth Péter (trumpet, vocal), Békési László (tenor saxophone, clarinet, vocal) and Zsoldos Tamás (bass guitar). For this record's occasion, guest artists include the famed vocalist Juhász Miczura Mónica Mitsou, Orczy Géza on tapan and bouzouq, DJ Mango an rap'n'scratch and Busa on oral scratch.

Blazing Gipsy brass, cymbalom Jazz riffs, overblown ney, festive dance rhythms rendered undanceable except for speed jinns and boneless banshees, a fat helping of musical humor and cross-cultural quotes stitch together the overall sense of unhinged mayhem. Imagine Yuri Yunakov-style warbling saxophone over Victor Wooten slap bass done in off-beat asymmetrical rhythms while a voice dryly declares "I woke up this morning" before the whole band falls behind the saxophone, glass splinters, sound effects suggest careening carousels and the cymbalom breaks out into a mazurka romp accompanied by oompah brass. Call it inebriated ruchenitsas with pale ghosts of Doctor Shivago spinning in the background, mad while uncomprehending smiles glued to their entraced visages.

The closest parallel for this melee? The French Salsa sensation Fatal Mambo. In their own gregarious ways, they are as far-out-of-the-box intense, albeit without the present sense of Slav insanity. On the Slavic side, BalkanMessengers is the only other outfit I know of that is similarly incensed while, as a quartet, less dense, and, overall, more serious about their business. Nekemtenemmutogato! (say that 3 times fast) is raunchy event music, not sit-down listening, seriously moshing party fuel, not prim-and-proper concertizing with a printed programme. It makes the label "unplugged" seem unworthy of most usual subjects simply caught in the act live. This type of "unplugged" doesn't just drain a few quarts of composure but throws it out with the bath water altogether. Call it a mass orgy on primetime TV. Crank up the volume and brace yourself for a mindblowing assault that redefines Balkan music. Highly recommended to air out the attic and bring in a fresh whiff of something unspeakable but great, great fun!