Fanfare Tirana Meets Transglobal Underground ‘Kabatronics’ (World Village/Harmonia Mundi) 4/5

World fusion is one of the trends of recent years in the world roots music and this latest exploration thankfully combines the creative use of modern music technology with the continued presence of acoustic instrumentation. It is a fusion of Albanian brass, which comes courtesy of Fanfara Tirana, who are none other than the military band of the Albanian armed forces combnied with UK globetrotters Transglobal Underground, who themselves are an intoxicating mix of sounds that take in loop sounds, drum beats and the sitar. The overall feel is Eastern with percussive instruments such as the Maghbreb/Machrek darbouka and Indian sub-continent tabla. The cross-fertilisation of styles works best on numbers such as the opener ‘Qaj Maro (Cry Mary)’ with the haunting sound of the clarinet, or on ‘No guns to the wedding’ where reggae flavours and Balkan beats meet head on to thrilling effect. This writer particularly likes the sound of Fanfara Tirana clarinettist and saxophonist Fatbardh Capi who may be deserving of an album as a leader in the future. One might question whether the techno beats are sometimes overpowering and could be toned down to allow the Albanian side to flourish, but overall this is a successful merging of styles and one that does respect the traditional side of Albanian brass which soaks up myriad influences from elsewhere in the Balkans and beyond. Tim Stenhouse

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