March 1998

Various Artists
Unblocked: Music of Eastern Europe
Ellipsis Arts

For further research into the bounty of Eastern European musical tradition, head to the latest compilation from the folks at Ellipsis Arts..., called Unblocked: Music of Eastern Europe (Ellipsis Arts...3570; 61:36, 57:57, 65:14), the three-CD package runs the risk of over-ambition, in its attempt to sum up a centuries-old and culturally-varied region of the world, stretching from the Baltic Sea to the hinterlands of Estonia. The vastness of the area is suggested by the titles given each CD: "Eastern Voices, Northern Shores," "From the Danube Through the Carpatians" and "The Balkans." But, beyond any such concerns, this is an ear-opening sampler, a window on a fascinating world that has been experiencing a renaissance since the fall of the iron curtain, as well as tragic civil unrest. On the 45 tracks, we hear examples of the rich vocal polyphony, the plaintive wails, delirious dance tunes, and the hypnotic expression of odd meters (odd to Western ears, that is). It's truly another world, and one worth exploring.

Originally published in March 1998

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