Friday, October 07, 2005

I dig to disseminate this premium media selection

Play it: Gorgol Bordello Sampler

I finally got around to reading Everything is Illuminated, the 2002 novel by NYC it author Jonathan Safran Foer. It's one man's tale of a search for his ancestry in the Ukraine, and much of it is told through the eyes of Foer's interpreter, Alex. This gives Foer the tool to look at his own American faults in an amusing matter, and in many respects, gets what it means to want to be American. Alex's vernacular is skewed by an overuse of a thesaurus (given as writing encouragement by Foer,) and the broken English-style misuse of $25 words makes for both delicious comedy, and a small window into the large heart of Alex.

The book was recently adapted as a movie and is spreading into more theaters this weekend (to fair-to-middlin' reviews.) It feels like an unadaptable novel, so I'm hesitant, but at the same time, Alex is portrayed by Gorgol Bordello frontman Eugene Hütz, who is himself Ukrainian.

Gogol Bordello are a fun combination of gypsy, punk and farcical cabaret, a more dramatic (and Balkan) version of The Pogues, if you will. Hütz was one of the many evacuated out of his home during the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, and it was at this time he became enamored with the mystical nature of gypsy music. He spent time as a refugee in Poland, Hungary, Austria, and Italy before finally making it to America in '93. After making his way to NY, Hütz teamed with guitarist Vlad Solofar to form a gypsy punk band, but Gogol Bordello's extravagent stage shows were concreted with the addition of Sergei Riabtsev on fiddle who was a former theater director from Moscow.

They started mostly playing Russian weddings, but their wild stage antics soon earned them a hip-NY-underground following. They soon were in the studio recording albums, leading to their debut Voi-La Intruder (produced by Jim Sclavunos, drummer for Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.)

Hütz became even more of a celebrity in the downtown scene by DJ'ing gigs Thursday night at Bulgarian restaurant and bar Mehanata, where he played Ukrainian, Gypsy, flamenco and rai music for a crowd of artists, models, Ukrainians, Russians, Gypsies, and Bulgarians with tendencies toward exuberant dancing and smashing plates.

Foer had just got into Gogol Bordello's music at the time the film was being casted, and passed it on to director Liev Schreiber as an idea for soundtrack or even casting Alex. Fittingly enough, Hütz was reading the novel at the time, and completely related to the Alex character. The audition was an instant match, as Hütz background in both growing up in the area referenced and his theaterical experience in Gogol Bordello was the perfect combination for hyper-kinetic character of Alex (rest=history.)

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

Gorgol Bordello

* "Illumination" - Gogol Bordello
* "Gypsy Part of Town" - J.U.F.
* "Baro Foro" - Gogol Bordello
* "Greencard Husband" - Gogol Bordello
* "Immigrant Punk" - Gogol Bordello
* "Onto Transmigration" - J.U.F.
* "Sharkatch" - Gogol Bordello
* "Ave. B" - Gogol Bordello
* "God-Like" - Gogol Bordello
* "60 Revolutions" - Gogol Bordello
* "Super Rifle (Balkan Express Train Robbery)" - J.U.F.
* "Punk Rock Paranada" - Gogol Bordello