Much of the folk music of Europe is rooted in the culture of the Gypsies. While Gypsies of different regions have developed their own distinctiveness, they still share some things in common. Firstly, their roots in Ancient India, which they originally left around 1050AD and which explains why, even as far west as Spain, flamenco can share so much of its modal characteristics with classical Indian music. The second is a bower-bird ability to incorporate new ideas as they come across them. In the global village age, Dunkelbunt picks not just from traditional folk sources, but also African and American sources by way of jazz, reggae and bossa. Contemporary electronic production and multi-lingual rapping also feature dominantly. The eclectic spirit of the Gypsy is retained but without the fear of needing to stay ‘true’ to any perceived purity of traditions.
The unifying factor across the album is Balkan folk and after a contemplative sitar introduction (a knowing nod to the original source) the Amsterdam Klezmer Band breaks into the most joyous racket on ‘La Reverdere’ over Dunkelbunt’s heavy rhythms. The tempo and mood doesn’t give up until ‘Lautlos’, 10 tracks in. In the intervening songs, nearly every upbeat world-music style is thrown into the mix in some way – Mariarchi brass in ‘Ashphalt Tango’, ska in ‘Der Kicherer’, Balkan polka in ‘Black Eyed Sea’, Django Reinhardt jazz in ‘The Stojka Empire’, along with lashes of upbeat dub and nu-school breaks – yet at all times remaining cohesive and never straying into the kitsch. The album then winds down with a handful of more mellow tracks, folk-dub-torch songs and the like, rounding out in a restful mood.
Every track on Morgenlandfahrt fuses numerous disparate traditional and contemporary stylings in a playful, inventive manner. The scope of sound sources is mind boggling – a didgeridoo even pops up on ‘Wellenreiter’, later dissolving into processed Tibetan chanting. It’s a kind of joining the global dots which continually surprises and impresses. This is joyful, creative, celebratory music of the highest calibre.