They say that, in the world of music, we will one day, or already have, run out of riffs or progressions to keep songs original and, above all else, interesting. What’s the solution to this? Many would say the melding of as many genres as possible. Colomboloco, a folk band hailing from, respectively, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Greece, seem to agree that genre-mixing is the answer; the salvation for the world of music.
The best bands, of course, are those that’ve risen above their respective genres. The Clash were more than a punk band, Public Enemy are more than a rap group and Colomboloco, well, are more than a folk band. Now, these guys aren’t merely bandmates from different countries with slightly differing tastes, something that makes even sometimes very average bands quite interesting at times, but each member has really delved into the traditional musical cultures of their respective homelands.
They blend fast and furious folk beats from across Europe with classical opera, American swing, ska, jazz, rock and chart pop. The band’s musicians perform in their own languages and also in English, French, Hebrew and Russian. The band enjoy residencies in many of London’s most prestigious music venues, have performed at festivals and toured across the UK and Europe. They’ve also played at private parties for The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, London Mayor Boris Johnson and Johnny Depp.
Well, so are Colomboloco worth the hype? Definitely. Take “Filumena”, for instance. It’s got a hook you can sing, universal with no language barriers. It really swings and grooves. It’s a syncopated performance from the whole band, and everybody’s in the pocket. It’s a song that would test any musician that simply doesn’t have that kind of endurance or concentration to see it right through to the song’s end.
Furthermore, “Luz”, the title track from their 2014 offering, is a manic offering. The drummer puts in a powerhouse of work, literally sounding like a fast, huffing and puffing steam train. The bass is busy, and, at times, descending, ducking and diving.
The drummer switches to rimshots and other percussion to allow the bass and vocals to breathe, before the manic mayhem resumes where it left off. It also has what you would suppose to be, in musical terms, a middle section of sorts. It’s very hard rock and heavy metal, guitars syncopating with crashing drums.
“Figghia Malata” is just, to put it mildly, mental. It begins with a haunting female vocal, before that signature folky bounce comes in. It is builds into a furious piece, with hard rock verging on heavy metal riffage and syncopation. A blazing organ solo follows, so easy to see why Deep Purple like them. Really intense and with a classical bent. It’s surprising the vocalist isn’t hoarse, he turns in some shift in this one.
“I Need You”, on the other hand, is a real earnest number. There’s a touch of comedy in a lot of their material, but not this one as such. This, again, is assisted with female vocals, a perfect combination for a concept such as the one in this love song. The accordion solo, here, is from the gut and, yet, the heart, too. A beautiful fretless bass follows, melodious and deep. The refrain sees everyone come to together, and the final flourish shimmers before fade out.
Then there’s “Let Me Dream My Dreams”. This starts with the sound of the ocean and the vocalist in velvety tones, laying a monologue before the band comes in. This is like reggae and European folk rolled into one, the accordion working surprisingly well in this Jamaican context. The theme of the track, lyrics of which are in English this time, appears to be despair; begging for mercy when life gets too tough. There’s the female backing performance, very genteel and graceful, which adds yet another dimension.
On the whole, the band are the complete package, and that isn’t just their recording repertoire. This reviewer sampled them recently in the live context, and it’s fair to say they need to be seen to be believed. They’re a travelling band at heart, and live to tour up and down this country, and the rest of the world.
Their performance would take a lot out of professional athletes, that’s how seasoned they are. On top of this, they all more or less know their music to an academic level. Let the band speak for themselves as regarding their live show, and their music in general:
“Prepare yourself for a blitz of eccentric theatricality, wild gypsy beats, virtuoso fingerwork, wanton genre-mixing, lunatic dancing and inexplicable outfits. The devil has 5 new souls on his roster and we invite you to join them in the inferno!”
You can buy Colomboloco’s album, 2014’s Luz on iTunes here. Watch the visuals for their latest single, released back in February, “Munnu Iera i Munnu Sarà”, below. Keep tabs on Colomboloco on Facebook, Twitter and on their website.
Words by Andrew Watson