Most frequently described as Gypsy music by their impressively mustachioed frontman Eugene Hutz, the multinational, multiethnic band members of Gogol Bordello mirror the surge of cross-border migration and the resultant cultural casserole from East to West, South to North and everywhere in between.
Perhaps their relentless global touring can be attributed to an inherited wanderlust; at the very least, it has contributed to their catholic sound and lyrical subject matter. Punk is perhaps the only way to describe a band that mixes Roma folk tales, English and Spanish lyrics, stage theatrics and shirtless Ukrainian folk dancing with dub, reggae, saxophone, violin, accordion and a list of other instruments and genres too numerous to list. Then sound is then turned up, sped up and flung at listeners.
This is not to imply that Gogol Bordello sounds messy -- many members, past and present, are accomplished musicians and DJs. The 2005 album "Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike" and Hutz's appearance in the film "Everything is Illuminated" brought the band widespread recognition on the strength of thrashers like "60 Revolutions" and the ballad-meets-Ukrainian drinking song "Start Wearing Purple."
Stripped down to guitar and the throaty roll of Hutz's voice for this studio session, more recent songs like "Trans-Continental Hustle," from the record of the same name, and "My Companjera" reflect the band's versatility within its own work -- each song can be as frenetic or fireside as they please.
What does Gogol Bordello sound like? A little bit of everything, from places that seem very far away but are actually pretty close to home.
All photos by Louis Kwok.