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Boris Kovac and Ladaaba Orchest: The Last Balkan Tango

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