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December 2001

Boris Kovac and Ladaaba Orchest
The Last Balkan Tango
Piranha

As this evocative album's subtitle informs us, what we have here is your basic "Apocalyptic Dance Party." It's not as somber or fatalistic as all that: Boris Kovac & LaDaABa Orchest's The Last Balkan Tango (Piranha 1573; 69:17) is a kind of concept album, a journey through the Balkans with a scent of nihilistic abandon mixed in with the darkly sensual tang of tango. Folk music strains, clipped tango rhythms and a canny blend of structured and improvised passages intermingle in a suite that skillfully pulls you into its wake. Kovac, saxophonist and compositional mastermind, leads a band with accordion, clarinet, drums, bass and sometimes guitar and violin. For all the talk of apocalypse and intimations of fatalistic dread, The Last Balkan Tango is ultimately a life-affirming affair, a musical odyssey that somehow conveys the spirit of Kovac's native soil in Vojvodina, the Pannonian part of Yugoslavia, past and present, with a hopeful future.

Originally published in December 2001
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