Zabe I Babe's music is a kaleidoscopic, cranked up, often punked out tour of the Bosnian radio dial. From hardcore traditional harmony singing and gypsy brass band party music to emo/techno pop, it's a trip worth taking. Literally "Frogs and Grandmothers," their name is the Bosnian equivalent of "apples and oranges."
Formed in 1991 by Bosnian ethnomusicologist Mirjana Lausevic and multi-genre performer Tim Eriksen (the band Cordelia's Dad, the film Cold Mountain), Zabe teamed up with the phenomenal Macedonian Roma group "Ansambl Teodosijevski" in 1997 to record the stunning, one-of-a-kind world music collage "Drumovi" ("Routes.") If you're looking for intensity, surprise, tradition and real invention, you'll find it here.
“This is not your standard world music recording. Zabe i Babe is a Bosnian/America group (the American half being made up of two members of Cordelia's Dad, probably the best band in the US), working with Ansamble Teodosijevski, billed - maybe justifiably- as the world's greatest gypsy ensemble. Certainly between them, the ten people involved generate enough heat to light Seattle for a weekend. If your experience of Balkan vocalizing is tyhe Bulgairan Women's Choir, this is like the difference between bubblegum pop and hardcore- but at the same time it remains utterly mesmerizing. Many of the vocal tracks, in fact, were recorded in a backyard, completely live, and much of the music is traditional. But defintely not old-fashioned. This whole record has an attitude as brash as any punk album, and on 'Visoko Drovo, driven by a guitar riff, you'll really see what happens when rock and Bosnia meet...It's not for everyone - purists, and those who think world music should be composed of pretty sounds will hate it - but if your mind is open and you appreciate the new, this is a glorious find.
– KUOW Public Radio Music Reviews
“I have been waiting for this CD for a while now, savoring the memory of their live concerts, knowing that the energy of the individual musicians involved would lead to a remarkable recording. Zabe i Babe starts with a core of three singers, Sarajevo native Minja Lausevic, the band's founder and leader, Trista Newyear and Donna Kwon. All are well versed in many of the worlds vocal traditions, and have specialized in the music of the Balkans for many years. Expanding the vocal group into a rock band came with the addition of their own keyboards and the rhythm and vocal section of two of Cordelia's Dad's, Peter Irvine (drums and percussion) and Tim Eriksen (guitars, bass). This quintet has focused their measurable talents on the popluar music of Sarajevo, a city of diverse ethnic and political backgrounds, and worked on making it vibrant and alive.
The second wonder of the album came with the chance meeting between Lausevic and Ansambl Teodosijevski at a Balkan music camp in California. The ensemble was a well known band in the former Yugoslavia, bringing both folk and popular music from all over the nation to TV and radio. They joined into the recording project and thre results are here on Drumovi. This is not so much Balkan music as American-Balkan fusion music, a mix of styles and influences, both subtle and blatant, from pop rock to farmer's songs. Eriksen's vocals lend a clenched, punkish sound; the ensemble vocals can be violent or beautifully eerie, and the clash of wedding band accordions and horns with the high-teck synths gives it all a raw, manic quality. Touches of what might be Latin, klezmer and jazz float deceptively through it all, haunted by the female vocals. There are wild bursts of big-band sounds, and also a number of wonderful a capella songs from the Bosnian tradition. Zabe i Babe have found an interesting melting pot and are tossing in all the ingredients they can get their hands on.
-- College Music Journal, Cliff Furnald
“The record of the month has to be 'Drumovi' by Zabei Babe. Mixing together American (two members of the wonderful Cordelia's Dad) and Bosnian musicians, and an amazing Gypsy ensemble (Ansambl Teodosijevski), Zabe i Babe have created the most hardcore Balkan album in existence. You thought the Bulgarian Women's Chir were the vocal shit? Hear the a capella tracks on this...-- swooping, diving, those eerie harmonies...and the tracks with instruments are, if it's possible, even better - "Visoko Drvo" (you don't have to pronounce it, only buy it) is extreme Balkan punk. No self-respecting household should be without this.
-- Chris Nickson
“ For a record made in America with several Americans involved (although with a number of Bosnians and Croats), this is probably as authentic a Balkan experience as you're likely to find outside Europe. One of the Americans who helped bring this to fruition is Tim Erkisen of Cordelia's Dad, a man who understands authenticity in music, so it's no surprise unaccompanied songs like "Ganga" sound so rich, with five voices interesting. But equally interesting are the tracks Zabe i Babe recorded with Ansambl Teodosijevski, who come from the Macedonian Rom tradition and have inherited the mantle of their adoptive parents, Stevo Teodosijevski and Esma Redzepova. The marriage, on tracks like "Lipe Cvatu," is absolutely wonderful, with some stunning playing that not only draws together the entire Balkans, but also the U.S. into one cultural harmony. But the entire album is a delight, with the unaccompanied pieces -- which make up the major part of this record -- taped in a backyard, giving a rough, vital spontaneity to it all. For Zabe i Babe leader Mirjana Lausevic, this is obviously a labor of love, but it's one whose rewards are endless.
-- All Music Guide
“ So you have switched off top 40 radio in exasperation and are digging through those worn out CDs of the same old recycled, reincarnated, mass produced, generic, American muse? Consider an escapist exit into a tour of the Bosnian radio dial, with traditional vocal and popular Bosnian dance music in this kaleidoscopic of cranked up, often punked out variety. From all-out traditional harmony singing and gypsy brass band party music to emo and techno pop, it's an unforgettable trip worth taking; a change of perspective for bored ears like yellow-colored glasses for fatigued eyes. Hardcore World music lovers will have something to cheer about too- an all around fabulous album."
-- Tamara Turner
“ This CD is a fabulous collection of music. I listened to it several times within the first days of getting it and continue to return to it every couple days. The first song is amazing, as are all of the songs on the first half of this CD--very catchy, very passionate, very powerful. Tim Eriksen's voice is as strong as ever. If you liked his singing on Cold Mountain or with Cornelia's Dad, then check him out singing these very different type of songs. The second half of the CD contains more traditional singing by the women in the group--those songs are hauntingly beautiful. This CD is fabulous. I am so glad I got it."
-- Customer Review
“ Zabe I Babe are a truly international endeavor, with deep roots in the music of Sarajevo and the countryside around it, as well as in the American new-folk movement occupied by the two males in the group (Peter Irvine and Tim Eriksen of Cordelia's Dad). Along with their drums, percussion, guitars, and vocals are added to keyboards and voices from Sarajevo native Minja Lausevic, the band's cofounder and ostensible leader, and Americans Trista Newyear and Donna Kwon. On their own they are a powerhouse of raw Slavic voices and urban Balkan pop, but the second key to this recording is the inclusion of Ansambl Teodosijevski, an important band from the former Yugoslavia whose accordions and horns add a solid, local rootsiness to the album. The mix is both city and country, the songs clash and merge, and the ensuing sound is quite extraordinary.
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Tim Eriksen Music- All Rights Reserved.