Boban Markovič Orkestar - Mrak (Fonó Records, 2019)

Boban Markovic Orkestar has today unleashed a new album: Mrak. The 12-track LP is Boban Markovic’s 15th studio album overall, following up 2013’s Gipsy Manifesto.

Boban Markovič Orkestar - Mrak

After a little more than 5 years of studio silence and constant touring, it is reasonable to say that in the meantime Boban’s outlook on many aspects of life – both personal and professional – have shifted. His new album reflects the last years’ field experience and feels like a true and unbeatable Balkan dance party with its stunning blast of excuberance and virtuosity. Boban Markovic worked to compile 12 tracks which give an overview of the many things that make Balkan brass music so unique. A selection of Balkan songs that can be defined as traditional and current at the same time, that sounds familiar but unusual with the beat. The album is labelled by Fonó.

The first track of the album is the title track called ’Mrak’ meaning ’darkness’. Alluding to the title, here is the story behind it. The ranger with darkness in his heart returns home from his great journey to find that only his loved ones can chase off the heavy clouds from his gloomy sky. The song was written by Boban himself and was matched with a video last November. The theme of the video is a Balkan boat party on the river Danube. It has been mentioned as a Budapest image film because of the beautiful shots that were taken of the famous sights.

Throughout Mrak the many signature elements of Boban Markovic Orkestar can be found and show why Boban has always been a standout in the world of Balkan brass. The album weaves from high-intensity tracks such as ‘Grom’ and ‘Rakija’ to more gentle tunes like ’Dusha’. While they continue to move forward sticking to their own unreplicable, enigmatic and individual style, as in an interesting twist, some singles aim to push the boundaries of folk and world music genres and blend electronic effects into conventionally arranged brass productions. They utilize captivating sound design which is both fresh and exciting but stays traditionally elegant at the same time. Boban Markovic armed the album with a multitude of genres to produce something as authentic as it is timely and took things to a new level of mastery. It is from this new vantage point that he is simultaneously connected to both the traditional world of music and its evolution.

Boban Markovič Orkestar

So like in a great balkan dance party, there’s truly something for everybody in the album. The LP perfectly highlights infectious melodies and beautiful vocals that will make the listener think and appreciate this new style.

The last two tracks come as the encore of our great Balkan show, and for that reason they both are very popular and familiar tracks. The first one is the brass arrangement of ’Djobi djoba’ by Gypsy Kings that has been perfomed by Boban Markovic Orkestar a few times and has always brought the band great success on stage. Bringing the full extent of its scope into sharpest focus, in its final moments the album engages the chilled elegance of the Alexandra Borisova-sung ‘Ederlezi’. The Bulgarian vocalist adds her breath-stealing touch to the well-known song, finding pathos and bittersweet-ness to equalize the thrust of the Orkestar’s harsh brass sound. The hypnotic arrangements and driving beats will take the listener to another place, to the land of the gypsies. While these two songs are familiar, they have been crafted with a caring hand to become something new, and awe-inspiring. Not only has he reworked the original productions, but he has done so in a way which feels authentic and time intensive.

NMR (foto: press)