La Cherga, featuring Irina Karamarkovic
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La Cherga, featuring Irina Karamarkovic
Fake No More
Asphalt Tango Records (

Here's a musical missive that's being sent out to those with outernationalist ears: La Cherga's Fake No More is, hands down, one of the hottest pieces of global party music to be pressed to plastic this past year. Originally a group of Yugoslavian ex-pats that fled the country due to war, it was in Austria that La Cherga expanded into a haven for Balkan musicians. La Cherga are a live sound system: this is where Balkan brass and accordion rub comfortably against dub that's so deep you'll swear that you're on a Nyquil bender. And that's a good thing.

'Cooking Dub' sets the tone, with Irina Karamarkovic letting loose with some kind of yelping that gives way to a thumping beat, a subterranean bass line, and a crazy boinging jew's harp. The effect is utter abandon: this is a dance-floor killer. Furthermore, 'Cooking Dub' features the skewed hipness of Karamarkovic's lyrics: "Personal appearance/Is something we just play with…," tossed off with "We don't need to be here…We are going nowhere." Karamarkovic sings sweetly, not so much with emotion throughout the album as with irony. On "Don't Go This Way," we are warned that "…there are bandits to run from…there are bandits to be killed - Don't be brain-dead!" And there's a car starting up and leaving in the mix.

Sure, there's been a glut of Balkan beat releases that have been released over the years, such as the excellent Bucovina Club club music of Shantel. But there is something singularly exciting about La Cherga, because they are a band that sounds like their own remix. The Macedonian brass of Kiril Kuzmanov and Trajce Velkov sound breezy; Nino Skiljic's bass is undeniably solid; and Muamer Gazibegovic's guitar work is disarming. The electronics and dub sound manipulations of Nevenko Bucan blend everything together to shut down the block; including, maybe, the Eastern Bloc.

For proof positive of La Cherga's inspired craziness, look no further than the epic twelve minute plus dubscape 'Down Domination Part 1 & 2.' Karamarkovic says "We did it/Once again/Move it!/We did it/Under the Godspell/Once again." At least I think she's saying "Under the Godspell," but you are entitled to come up with your own guess. Whatever the cryptic message, there's nothing cryptic about the bouncy, rubbery way this tune blossoms, and the brass flutter beautifully throughout. This is giddy liberation, La Cherga-style, complete with the same kind of Karamarkovic-yelp that began the album. And once Fake No More winds down and your hips stop swaying, I guarantee that you will be back for seconds. - Lee Blackstone

CD available from cdRoots

CD available from cdRoots

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CD available from cdRoots

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