Counterfeit Gypsies – Wonky Donkey
Review by Roger Holdsworth
When interviewing the Counterfeit Gypsies at one stage, I mischievously quipped that we weren’t able to afford the genuine article.
However this is indeed a very good counterfeit, with the energy and passion of much Rom music coming through in the playing of these young Melbourne musicians.
Drawing on traditional tunes – overwhelmingly instrumentals, but the occasional ensemble vocal number is included – from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, the seven-piece group is also energised by a driving sound more commonly expected from a pub rock group.
(Though their claim of a heavy metal ethos is perhaps stretching it a little far … thankfully! But I am reminded of the approach of Swedish groups like Hedningarna and Hoven Droven, if that doesn’t digress the musical influences a little far.)
There are freylachs, hangus and haidutchaskas here.
There are also laments and klezmer medleys.
Thanks to the Counterfeit Gypsies, we might know a little more about what each of these are – for they certainly know their stuff.
Percussion is at the centre of the group’s sound, driving along the off-beat rhythms.
It’s hard to go back to 4:4 after such a seductive introduction.
Two fiddles, a guitar, bouzouki and bass, together with flute and whistle round out the line-up.
Thus, for many tracks, there’s a transposition of Balkan brass into their sound and this works surprisingly well.
If this is counterfeit, I’d accept it any day.
The Counterfeit Gypsies have a tight and energetic sound, designed for dancing.
Live they’re a treat; here on their second CD, the fun and the fury can easily turn your lounge room into a dance floor.