Gogol Bordello

Pura Vida Conspiracy

Written by: MN on 01/04/2014 22:56:29

Gogol Bordello are an octet who are extremely renowned for their intense live shows where vocalist Eugene Hutz always leads his entourage of merry pranksters on a full-throttle, Balkan-inspired punk rampage that usually sparks a massive folksy party atmosphere. I have personally witnessed this phenomena four times and they are one of the few bands that never disappoint in a live setting. Being known as a premier live act does however mean that less attention is awarded to their creative efforts on record. I personally also endorsed more attention towards getting inebriated and joining in the festivities rather than analyzing lyrical content or paying attention to meticulous details in the music. This is in fact my first review of a Gogol Bordello record.

After having listened to the entire discography, I discovered that there is a lot more unrewarded depth to GB than just their ability to create euphoric and frenzy-inducing party bashers. In fact, GB are torchbearers of a global attitude that shuns borders of any form. Genrewise, this is apparent in their ever-embracing approach to incorporating world genres in their compositions. On a political level, Gogol Bordello stand for tolerance, multiculuralism and xenophillia as is explicitly proclaimed in the album-opener ”We Rise Again”. For those who have been living under a rock the past 10 years, Gogol Bordello are a band that incorporate full-throttle punk with gypsy guitars, but are also known for adding balkan twitches and a vast array of other genres in the mix. This most recent release is 2013's “Pura Vida Conspiracy”, a record that continues in the same vein as previous releases but with even more wordly touches. The mediterranean punkish serenade “Dig Deep Enough” and the pirate-ish “The Other Side Of The Rainbow” are bound to be new classic Bordello singalongs with the thumping chorus rhythm and elements of Latin cumbia. The speed is reduced for the ballad-like song “Malandrino” where country, Russian balalaika music, polka and of course punk is thrown into the batch. What has proven to be intriguing is GB's lyrical references to various historical and contemporary events and figures. Malandrino could for example be a reference to their home town's own fashion designer, Catherine Malandrino. Further references include that of John The Conqueror, an African-American folkloric hero known for his mischievous ways, which is recalled in the bassy “John The Conqueror".

Gogol Bordello are one of the toughest outfits to review. Despite the endless praise one could give of the musical content, the lyricism and song writing is something I found much more abstract than expected. It is clear that Eugene Hutz is somewhat of a misunderstood jester-figure and his songwriting has proven to have much more substance than what I expected earlier. The verdict on this album remains that it has opened my eyes even more to Gogol Bordello and this release certainly lives up to earlier releases. I do however miss some of the more Balkan inspired bashers of their earlier works, but there is plenty of time for a revival of that. I predict Gogol Bordello will continue for ages to come, especially considering their inexhaustible energy which is a thrill to witness live.

Download: Malandrino, Hieroglyphs, We Rise Again
For The Fans Of: Balkan Beat Box, Dubioza Kolektiv, Manu Chao
Listen: facebook.com

Release Date 23.07.2013

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