There has been a resurgence in Eastern European folk music over the past few years, from Klezmer to Balkan beats. Artists such as Natacha Atlas have drawn from their cultural roots while others, like Zach Condon of Beirut, have been drawn to the beauty of the melodies, the faded grandeur the music invokes, and the astonishing array of instruments used in its creation.
On this Folk Sounds release, the group Harmonia provides a cornucopia of musicians and sounds from across Eastern Europe: Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia, and Gypsy. Some tracks are upbeat and fiery, others more melancholic. All of them, though, are authentic. (There are even some Ukrainian pan flutes I’d never heard before.)
The musicians of Harmonia now reside in Cleveland but are drawn from the Eastern European diaspora and are brilliant musicians. This music transports the listener back to a 1930s Hungarian cafe, debating the 1917 Bolshevik uprising. Or you may find yourself in the middle of a Gypsy camp or a Ukrainian village joining in the riotous wedding celebrations. Emotion and feeling just ooze out of this high-class record and I imagine Harmonia would be a lot of fun live! If you like traditional folk musics there are rich rewards to be had in this album.