Global Beat Fusion: Big Brass at the Disco

22 11 2007

Shantel

by Derek Beres

“Initially I had a lot of difficulties. I did not find a label that wanted to release it. I was in a lot of negotiations, but they all said that nobody would listen to this. They would say, ‘Why are you into this music?’ I had to create my own label and system to make it happen.”—Shantel.

There is much irony in this statement. When you hear the opening “Espirita” by a group of 20-some Italian 20-somethings basing their music on the traditional banda music of Sicily, the unique sound of Banda Ionica—as well as a number of incredible groups on the first edition of Bucovina Club—engage and invade your auditory senses with some of the most interesting rhythms and melodies on the planet. Now as much an institution as a CD, Shantel’s famed Bucovina Club nights have launched from his Frankfurt base to the far reaches of Europe. Yet upon the first outing, which featured a mind-blowing cast including Taraf de Haidouks, Fanfare Ciocarlia, Goran Bregovic, Gogol Bordello and Kocani Orkestar, it was an unconvincing sale. Indeed, the battle is far from over.

Shantel started creating a turntablism career in the ’90s dropping a more expectable soul, house and jazzy cuts indicative of open-minded heads and hips. He was long aware of the regional musics of Southeastern Europe, and carried around vinyl for kicks. One evening while performing at a fashion show in Paris, one filled with “all this attitude, this coolness, this stylish whatever”, he decided to test a hypothesis. While usually relegated to ceremonies, Shantel pulled Macedonian wedding music from his bag of tricks. The tunes, heavy on brass and Turkish percussion, were considered dance music, albeit in a much different setting than fashion gatherings and discothèques. “The music changed totally the attitude of the night. It opened a strong emotional area, with all those clichés of people dancing on the tables.”

To read full column on PopMatters click here

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