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Band World Folk


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"Review of the cd "Yes we are a Swedish balkan band you don´t have to look twice!""

It's taken a while, but now the voluptuous attractions of the odd-numbered time signatures and improvising possibilities of Balkan and other East European music (and also the similarly liberating, and to some extent related, delights of Middle Eastern music), and the high, exciting skill involved, are proving as enticing to many musicians outside those regions as the syncopation and freedom of jazz did for their parents and grandparents' generations. The music that is emerging sometimes sticks close to its traditional sources, but more often incorporates them with the musicians' own musical perceptions to spark tangents and departures, a genetic shuffling and re-energising that seems to be evolving a wave of strong new music in Europe and beyond. And the excitement about these exotic musics involves an admiration and seeking-out of music and musicians, and can undoubtedly help break down and humanise perceptions of the rich variety of people arriving in western Europe from the east.

Despite their album's lumpily explicit title, eleven-piece Östblocket's music isn't Balkan clonery but a distinctive new mix with a strong influence of the forms, language and oompah bounce of klezmer, even in the Rom and original material. Carving its own path with confidence and style, it's snappy and excellently played, a powerful, well-recorded and varied sound from a five-piece brass section, sax, accordeon, percussion and drums, with violinist and composer of much of the material Filip Runesson doubling on oud, santur and mandola. No string bass; in the style of Serbian and Macedonian brass bands the bottom end is handled by tuba and euphonium. About half the tracks are songs, featuring vocals by Sofia Berg-Böhm in Yiddish and other languages that are as impressive as is the band itself. Swedish rapper Timbuktu guests effectively, as do Bulgarian accordeonist Plamen Dimitrov and a Swedish choir. Smart stuff, and in an ingeniously designed package. / Andrew Cronshaw - fROOTS, July 2004

"Review of "Yes we are a Swedish balkan band, you don´t have to look twice!""

"You can't go wrong with Östblocket. They spell out everything nicely for you, right from the title. Yes folks, it's true. Each one of the Östblocket crew appears to be 100% pure Swedish stock, no eastern miscegenation here.
Put this record on, however and the East rushes towards you, like a Balkan Brass Band on steroids and acid. Steroids because these guys surely know how to play and acid because Swedish was not one of the official languages of the former Yugoslavia.
The band has written most of the tracks on the record but I just feel the urge to play them to a panel of Balkan traditional music experts and see if they are fooled. In addition to their own material, some klezmer and Roma favorites appear. What is equally fascinating is that about five different members of the band write the group's songs; this is certainly not a vehicle for someone's upcoming solo project, but a truly collective effort.
This is a self-produced record of great love and care, right from the cover (with its elaborate cutout design which must have cost a fortune) and the kitschy Eastern European, Communist-chic graphic design to the zest of the performances." / Nondas Kitsos
- RootsWorld, spring 2005

"Review of "GIFT""

Just to set things straight, they’re from Sweden, but they play (mostly) Balkan music, with a touch of klezmer and a nod or two to the Middle East. However, their Balkan music is more akin to the big brass
bands than the more traditional strings bands (although they can do that too, as they prove
convincingly on “Happy cocek”). But, in essence, there are no rules – “V.D” starts out Balkan before taking a sharp left turn into
jazz, with a stunning, roaring sax workout that lifts the roof. The material is mostly their own, but they’re well enough versed in the
tradition to sound, if not absolutely authentic, then at least convincing, while their take on Natacha Atlas’s “ Mish Fadilak” slinks in
a most Egyptian fashion. That they’re doing something they love is obvious, and they do bring a big sound to the Balkans. When they
do head into the past, as with the traditional Rom song “Tuti Fruti” (nothing to do with Little Richard), it’s with plenty of panache and fire, and respect but little reverence –
exactly as it should be. Sophia Berg-Böhm is an ideal vocal foil for the musicians, gutsy and unrestrained, but, it has to be said, it’s instrumentally where they really soar. /CN - Sing out! Autumn 2008


Present, 2001
Yes we are a swedish balkan band, you don´t have to look twice!, 2004
GIFT, 2007



Östblocket started out in 1996 and are considered veterans on the Swedish world music stage. They have brought happiness and joy to dance floors and festivals throughout Europe and have attracted listeners from all over the world.

Östblocket make music in a style of their own. In the compositions you hear influences from oriental-, Indian- and Balkan brass band-music; with Swedish lyrics depicting longing, dreaming, love and hate.

Östblocket means "The Eastern Block" in Swedish.