Balkan Beat Box – Blue Eyed Black Boy

Balkan Beat Box - Blue Eyed Black Boy

Listening to Blue Eyed Black Boy by Balkan Beat Box reminds me that I may not understand all of the intricate workings of making music, but I know what I like. The three core members – Ori Kapan, Tamir Muskat and Tomer Yosef – met up in New York City and released their first album in 2005. The trio’s diverse backgrounds come together in a sound they describe as “Nu Med”, a mash-up of old world and new world aesthetics that combines Balkan traditional instrumentation with hip-hop, electronics, rock, and more. While there is a healthy roster of current performers going the route of old school/new school mashups, Balkan Beat Box takes the juxtapositions to an entirely new level.

The album begins with a 31 second track, aptly titled “Intro”, which transitions right into “Move It”. The combination of gypsy brass and percussion cut right through this cool spring weather and sunbeam my heart right to summer. This is the kind of dance music that actually makes me want to move – it’s intelligent, fun, infectious, and completely lacking the overworked bubblegum traded on the airwaves today. Balkan Beat Box may “make beats like gorillas”, but if this amount of shake and shimmy doesn’t get you to move it, you might be a hopeless cause.

The title track has a slower grove with a more hip-hop orientation, but the overall sound is still a global fusion. It’s important to note that while Blue Eyed Black Boy contains a lot of electronics, they are completely homegrown and organic – meaning the group played everything you hear, even if that sound is chopped up, looped, or otherwise meshed into the whole of the song. “My Baby”, “Look Them Act”, and “Dancing With the Moon” keep the dance-ability factor high – the first two with beats that wouldn’t be surprising to hear at an underground dancehall or city block party, the latter more fitting for a backyard party where the young and old folk alike get into the dance.

The final track, “War Again”, wraps up the Balkan Beat Box’s international appeal in one sweaty, grimy, perfectly executed package. The talent these guys have for infiltrating your very bones with rhythm is undeniable. If half this energy is translated to a live show – which I imagine it easily is – then Balkan Beat Box is one not to miss. It’s rare that an album maintains this much vigor from beginning to end and each of the 14 tracks here should speak as much to the young city dweller as they do to the old world farmer. That is how Balkan Beat Box transforms its multiculturalism into its music. Add in the smart lyrics and you’ve got a budding powerhouse of the global-fusion market. Listen to the album on Balkan Beat Box’s website or proceed directly to your favorite site to purchase.

Crammed Discs / Nat Geo