As the World Churns
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