Kottke's sixth official album is a dazzling array of pieces, some wistfully romantic ("Mona Ray"), others savagely witty ("When Shrimps Learn to Whistle"), and still others downright folksy ("Bill Cheatham"), with accompaniments of varying shapes and types, from dobro to synthesizer and piano.
This pair of clarinet quintets from the revivified Sony Classical label presents a performer and a composer who have both been shaped by Jewish vernacular materials, and the combination delivers everything you hope it will. Osvaldo Golijov's Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind was composed 1994, before this Argentine composer entered a period of sustained popularity. Unlike his later riotously genre-crossing style, this one focuses on his own Jewish musical background.
Ederlezi spans 10 years of Goran Bregovic's film music career, covering much of his work for Balkan director Emir Kusturica as well as to the movies Toxic Affair and La Reine Margot. It shouldn't be a shock to discover that Bregovic's music is steeped in the culture of his homeland. His compositions for Kusturica's Underground are a goulash of foot-stomping gypsy festivities, like the Balkan take on Carnaval in "Cajesukarije Cocek" and the thunderous trumpet on "Kalasnjikov". For the film Le temps des gitans he wrote "Talijanska", which begins with a pleasant jaunt on the accordion, makes a daring turn into a cul-de-sac of brooding drones, and then returns to the welcome safety of the starting point with a larger ensemble. There are also many unexpected encounters on this collection, the most surprising being Iggy Pop's vocals on the EZ-listening pop of "TV Screen". Others include the juxtaposition of tender acoustic guitar and chimes with narration by Johnny Depp on "American Dreamers" and the crooning of dark angel Scott Walker on "Man From Reno".