"Balval is an astonishingly modern take on the musical language of the gypsies. Balval, a youthful and fiery quartet, co-opts the traditional melodies of Eastern Europe and the Balkans and swirls them with jazz, blues, rock and folk. The result is a multicultural, multilingual world music that begs to be heard. In fact, no one makes music quite like Balval. In an ideal world, the quartet will do for Eastern European music what the Buena Vista Social Club has done for Cuba, or what Tinariwen has done for music of the Sahara.
It doesn't take long to hear how the sounds from different modern genres exert themselves on Blizzard Boheme. Eastern European and gypsy traditions quickly morph into something fresh and fun, as on "Tango," which becomes a coy frolic thanks to Awena Burgess' tart singing. The brooding "Keren, Chavorale, Drom" is sultry, very bluesy and a little playful. "Blues" is almost Chet Baker-esque in its languorous sweetness. "Liza" sounds like Leonard Cohen as filtered through the eyes of a Romanian gypsy.
There are experimental overtones here as well, with hints of Laurie Anderson, the Kronos Quartet and other adventurous artists. It's a credit to Balval that they can conjure up the spirit of those souls while at the same time remaining grounded in their unique neo-gypsy niche. Nothing is sacred. Everything is fair game when playing by their rules, which is basically not following any rules at all. The musical freedom is liberating.
In perpetrating this gorgeous chaos, Burgess is accompanied by violinist Rosalie Hartog, guitarist Daniel Mizrahi, bassist Benjamin Body, and percussionist Bachar Khalife. Together, the noise is brisk and blissful, crisp in performance and full of energy. The songs are sung in a variety of languages, from the Roma language, which is a beautiful mix of eastern chant and western vernacular, to Bulgarian, Hungarian, and Serbian. In fact, you can find Balval's Blizzard Boheme at the crossroads of all these marvelous and colorful cultures. "Balval" means "the Wind."
01.Ado Chavo [Hungary]
02.Dumbala Dumba [Romania]
03.Aman Lelo [Bulgaria/Azerbaijan]
04.Tango [Moldavian Hora]
05.Sude Phabaj [Hungary/Romania]
07.Jekha Chaja [Serbia]
08.Keren, Chavorale, Drom [Hungary]
09.Corro Som [Transylvanian Plain]
13.An La Devla [Balkans]
14.Loli Rokla [Czech Republic]
Awena Burgess (vocals)
Daniel Mizrahi (guitar)
Rosalie Hartog (violin)
Benjamin Body (double bass)
Bachar Khalife (percussions)