Godfathers of Global Bass Lose Ground
Balkan Beat Box broke out of NYC’s music underground in 2005 with a crazy, novel sound: Mediterranean-inflected bass with a dizzying array of influences, making for an unstoppable, global peacenik dance party. For their fourth album Give, the Israeli ex-pats continue with their hard-to-categorize blend of social protest dance music. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing. For diehard fans of Balkan Beat Box, this album won’t disappoint. But Give is unlikely to make much of a splash with new audiences among today’s global bass fans, who’ve had their heads turned by the dirtier beats of subgenres like moombahton, kwaito, or tribal guarachero.
The headnodding album bursts with energy and optimism, despite song titles like “Political F*ck” and “Urge to Be Violent,” a contradiction that makes sense given the turbulent events of 2011 that inspired them. But if you’re not interested in revolution, and just want to get your drink on and something to move your head to, this album fits that bill too. The trouble is that Balkan Beat Box kind of created a genre that blew up and then developed a thousand imitators that have dated the sound. Club bangers with samba loops and dancehall influences are a dime a dozen. Global bass is a crowded field suddenly, andGive doesn’t raise the stakes enough to school the young’uns in how the veteran bassheads used to do it.