Beyond The Pale, "Postcards"
Perhaps the most captivating aspect of Toronto-based Beyond the Pale's new album, "Postcards," is the group's ability to blend Jewish klezmer music with a variety of Eastern European folk music. For the 16-song set, Beyond the Pale cofounder/mandolin player Eric Stein teamed with clarinetist Martin van de Ven and Serbian musicians Alekasandar Gajic (violin), Milos Popovic (accordion) and Bogdan Djukic (percussion). Gajic's "Back to the Beginning," which was written during a bombing raid in Belgrade, Serbia, is progressive and Balkan. "Meditation" has a dark, bittersweet quality that's well-known to Serbian brass bands, but the song is an arrangement of a Hasidic nigun (worldess melody). Stein's orgiinal "Split Decision" may owe as much to David Grisman as Eastern Europe. And "Magura" features a loping bassline over a blend of mandolin and fiddle -- a sound reminiscent of Texas swing, polka and klezmer. --Philip Van Vleck