I first met Ori Kaplan, one of the founders of Balkan Beat Box, at a Billionaires for Bush party in 2004, where, under the BBB name, a quartet had the honor of the 4am slot. BBB was creating their album across international borders, sending files between Tel Aviv, Williamsburg, Syria, and Bulgaria. For Purim 2005, JDub produced Balkan Beat Box’s official New York City debut with a full band line up, two stages, flamenco dancers, vaudevillian clowns, and Tomer Yosef’s first (but certainly not last) performance hanging upside down from the ceiling of SOB’s. Since then, I’ve heard stories of climbing guides introducing their clients to BBB in the mountains of Turkey, read about young Palestinians dancing – happily and knowingly – at BBB shows in France, and danced along myself to their insanely high energy shows in Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Manchester, Tennessee. Choreographers set new works to their songs, and environmentalists created a falafel oil & bicycle powered stage for them to play on for Earth Day.
Throughout the years, individual members have released albums of noise-rock, Cantorial Afrobeat, orchestral punk, and Israeli reggae and hip hop. Today, though, BBB’s founding members, saxophonist Ori Kaplan and drummer/producer Tamir Muskat, along with BBB bassist Itamar Ziegler and guitarist (and Bored to Death composer) Stephen Ulrich released their own side project, and it is a beast.
They describe the sound as “Mediterranean trash rock.” I call it the second coming of Morphine. Or better yet, a 21st Century film noir soundtrack. Its moody but not brooding. At times frenetic, at others mellow and simmering, Shotnez‘ self titled debut is a (mostly) instrumental rock masterpiece. It owes much to the vibe and creative spirit nurtured at Tonic, the now shuttered NYC club created by John Zorn, where the band’s members got their pre-BBB start.
Today on Jewcy we’re premiering the entire Shotnez album. Enjoy!