Accessible best-of set from the brassy Serbian heavyweights.
John Doran 2012
The songs of the Boban i Marko Marković Orkestar might well be as unfamiliar as they are unpronounceable to the average Brit, but that doesn’t mean the Serbians aren’t big news on their home turf of Eastern Europe. In 2000 Oasis were due to take the main stage at the Sziget festival in Hungary but when it was pointed out to them that half of their 30,000 audience was watching this insanely popular Serbian brass band on the world music stage, they wisely decided to wait until they’d finished their set before swaggering on to play. This was certainly not something they ever had to do for another rock group.
But perhaps when you consider that in their own country they have won no fewer than six gongs at the Dragačevski Sabor awards (like a brass band Oscars) in front of its half a million or more annual attendants, you will get some kind of idea what a big deal they are. Their music has its roots firmly entrenched in the Roma tradition of high-octane gypsy brass, but has magpie tendencies enough to make it universal to international audiences, especially on the festival circuit.
This greatest hits comp (selected by BalkanBeats’ DJ Robert Soko) showcases their party tunes such as the breakneck signature romp through Hava Naguila and the blistering flugelhorn ska of Khelipe E Cheasa (which sounds uncannily like the theme music from Curb Your Enthusiasm remixed by DJ /rupture), as well as their successful ventures further afield. Dzumbus Funk (or Chaos Funk) sees them channelling the car chase spirit of Lalo Schifrin and Obecanje (or Promise) sees them blending brass with Latin rhythms. But one of the reasons why the group – who formed in the late 80s – have remained so popular is because they are now a cross-generational concern.
Band leader Boban Markovic has been sharing the stage with his son Marko since the latter turned 14 in 2002, and more recently they have been sharing band leading, writing, arranging and soloing duties as well. But Marko’s most important gift to the funky brass bunch has been that of modernisation, which has kept them relevant and steered them towards working with dance producers and including newer rhythms. In fact, Golden Horns concludes with a rambunctious swing/house remix of Go Marko Go. The sheer brass cheek of it.