Alt-Klez With Oblique, Demented Class

David Krakauer's latest foray into techno-klezmer has three things going for it that most alt-klez does not. The first is Krakauer himself, a classically trained clarinetist with a vibrato as wide as a Bulgarian wedding singer's. The second is his Klezmer Madness ensemble, a gang of downtown jazzers and lowdown groove merchants that can segue seamlessly from freilach to funk to free-jazz freakout. (Witness "Bus Number 9999," a deranged ode to public transportation featuring poet 99 Hooker.) The third is Socalled, a Montreal DJ whose massive Jewfro conceals one of the most deliciously demented minds in beat science. To hear him layer old-school klezmer and Romanian pan pipes over go-go rhythms on "Moskovitz and Loops of It"—or shuttle between James Brown riffs and wailing clarinet on "B Flat à la Socalled"—is to hear two very different ghettos slamming headlong into each other. The results are thoroughly contemporary yet strangely sepia-toned, with an oblique political subtext: The bubbemeises in question refer to both quaint old wives' tales and the pernicious falsehoods peddled by governments. The music, however, is as righteous as can be.

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