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Serbian Musician Spikes Old World Music With Rock Sounds

ARC Music

I first heard of Kalwhen they played at the 2008 International Accordion Festival in San Antonio, where they were greeted with wild enthusiasm. Formed in Belgrade in 2001, Kal is led by Dragan Ristic. The objective of the group is to promote the Romany culture, a subject increasingly taught in schools in Europe. Hence, “Romology” is the title of their third album.

For the most part, Roma are not regarded with respect in Europe, and are frequently looked upon with suspicion. Ristic and his brother, sons of a school teacher, decided to bring their vibrant and different music to the masses to demonstrate how entertaining and fun Romany music could be. “Romology” the album is described as Rock N'Roma, and is definitely more raucous and ebullient than the group’s previous efforts.

The majority of the songs on the album were composed by DraganRistic, who speaks perfect English, and there are nice liner notes explaining each song. The lyrics are provocative, exploring the intolerable situation under which the Romany find themselves on mainland Europe. The title track is really beautiful, performed in English by Sarah Bedak, who co-composed it with Ristic. I particularly like the slower songs such as the traditional Bulgarian “Ljiljano” and “Vust,” about a girl pleading with her boyfriend not to leave her. Manu Chau, acknowledged as one of the foremost 'world music' performers, also receives a nod in the song “Negro.” ManoNegra was a band really admired by a young DraganRistic. “Gadzo DJ” sounds like an amalgamation of many world music beats and is a criticism of would-be gypsy music imposters. All in all “Romolgy” is a good follow up to the band's previous releases and could certainly have a party crowd entertained.

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