As the World Churns
TriBeCaStan by Doran Gild

photo: Doran Gild

TriBeCaStan | New Songs From the Old Country (Evergreene)

TriBeCaStan is a New York collective whose a core members include multi-instrumentalists John Kruth and Jeff Greene, baritone sax queen Claire Daly, and the Klezmatics’ super-duper multi-reeds squealer Matt Darriau. As can be grokked by their name, the world-eclectica combo serves up ethnological forgeries / hybrids that draw from the sonic styles and trads of just about the entire world, the idea being that they’ll play nothing that sounds “authentic” per se but which is ideally something new that bubbled up outta the stew. It’s not a novel conceit –– it doesn't have to be –– and in TriBeCaStan’s case the myriad musics are cheerfully corrupted and played with such primo musical choppery and smarts that one might even say that their refusal to pay proper “respect” to their ethnic source materials is admirably progressive, politicalwise. Gently pulling or yanking rudely the time-honored modes and instrumentations out of their original context in tunes like “Night Train to the Ukraine,” “The Road To Koprivnica” and “Kecapi Rain,” this band doesn’t apologize for what used to be too easily referred to as cultural tourism. It’s as if they’re saying that in fact we’re all cultural tourists now; depending on your point of view, we’re all “exotic” now, too. This was at least one valuable lesson taught us by Brazil’s tropicalistas of the ‘60s and ‘70s, these devourers of foreign cultural goods who proudly proclaimed that they “cannibalized” American and English pop music precisely in order to color it with their own culturally biased aesthetics –– to create a new, entirely unholy mess of music. A minor quibble about TriBeCaStan is re the pastiching effect they get when they tackle tunes with titles like “Corned Beef and Sake,” which sounds like Irish music played on shamisen and not a lot more; meanwhile “Communist Modern” is a new wave surfin’ and spyin’ typa vibe; the kicking, strutting rhythms and melodies of “Dance of the Terrible Bear” seem to derive from klezmer but bleed into country hoedown territory, which is cool and interesting since both forms are already big weird stews of sound that, should one care to spend the time doing so, might possibly prove to have some sort of cultural connection –– as does just about every single other note that TriBeCaStan plays.
–– John Payne

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