Record Review: Somerville Symphony Orkestar

Somerville Symphony Orkestar
Somerville Symphony Orkestar
Somerville, MA

“Making over Slavic folk with a jazz-funk infusion”

The Eastern European influence isn’t news in contemporary music. Somerville Symphony Orkestar, however, provides a more Slavic twist than marching band-centric Mucca Pazza or west-meets-east Balkan-tinged Beirut. Self-proclaimed “Jewfro beat” is pretty accurate, as SSO proves to be more Fiddler on the Roof than a Jacques Brel soundtrack. Weaving polka and funk components throughout the album with a gypsy-like element that takes cues from free jazz improvisation, SSO successfully crafts a collection that extends beyond a tribute to Slavic folk tunes by layering effects from a multitude of other genres. All that and the record still retains the authenticity of its influences.

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LISTEN NOW: “Into the Wood Chipper”

[audio:|titles=Into the Wood Chipper]

“Cheswick Cigarettes” is indicative of such concoctions, as a funky bass line starts off the track, while a saxophone and strings riff on top in wonderfully bohemian twirls. SSO then crosses more boundaries by breaking into a jazz-inspired improvisational block within Slavic tonalities. Opener “Clap For My Birthday” is a peppy testament of SSO’s ability to dole out these Slavic influences in a more traditional manner.

Regardless of whether SSO blends together several styles or conjures up a seemingly traditional folk tune, every track is extremely upbeat and danceable (in a kick-your-legs-in-the-air sort of way). (Self-released)

Produced by Joel Edinberg
Recorded and Mixed at P Street Studios
Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering

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