You can. Sometimes Warsaw Village Band, especially in previous work, sounds like nothing so much as Irish folk music… played with a double-time vengeance and supernatural intensity. The best example of this on the new album is the opening song, ‘Wise Kid Song’. This naturally ignites the chicken-egg controversy of which came first and who influenced whom, the Celts leaving music behind to be taken up by successive immigrants or borrowing it themselves from across the continent at a later date; it’s probably more the latter, but unimportant really. Other songs contain an ethereal chanting that extends that metaphor, evoking the Lindisfarne Gospels and a time when the solution to a crumbling Roman world’s chaos was best found internally, in sanctuaries and private meditation. To this day
On ‘Infinity’ that sound gets broadened, with the help of other musicians and traditions, into something at times more abstract and Oriental as on ‘Circle #1’, at times more moody and dramatic as on the klezmer-inspired ‘1.5 hours’. Overall, though, the album seems to veer away from ethereal chants toward more down-to-earth blues, maybe not necessarily the Delta or Chicago kind so much, as on ‘Little Baby Blues’, but some sort of meta-blues that appears in the minor keys and plaintive cries of all musical traditions. There are songs here that evoke church gospel choirs and others that remind one of plantation field hollers. But the closest thing to good old-fashioned pop hooks comes on ‘Skip Funk’, which is pretty self-explanatory, just straight-ahead infectious boogie that sticks to your ribs. For my money they could explore that groove further.
Be forewarned- Warsaw Village Band uses a lot of violin(s), so if that’s your pleasure, then you’re in for a real treat, some soaring and screaming licks not often found on studio albums. If that’s a problem then start with small doses; it grows on you, and that’s probably the best test of any album, the repeat listen. I’d be very curious to see what these guys (and girls) can do live. The potential is there to go incendiary. I hope to find out soon (just leave the kid with a sitter, please; that’s all I ask. He’s cute as a bug, and I love kids, but work’s work. The last time somebody brought their kid onstage I was outta’ there and on the Metro before everbody else got finished going, “AAWWwwww (falling tone)…”). One thing interesting this band does is give most of their songs English titles, though sung in Polish. This is an interesting solution to world music’s ‘language problem’. I don’t know how well they actually match the content of the song, but still it’s nice to have some kind of verbal handle to attach to a song, a catchy refrain, even if the music IS the most important thing (90% of the time it is).
One more thing- this band LOOKS GREAT. I’ve got some exes who’d go ape-shit for these guys based on looks alone. Etran Finatawa’s got nothing on them there, except for the spooky eye movements at a distance. They could be the poster parents for anybody’s retro/vintage wear boutique. ‘Infinity’ by Warsaw Village Band is infinitely (pun intended) worth a listen. Check ‘em out.