The whirling sounds of Eastern Europe, Turkey and the Balkans vibrate with plenty of verve on She’Koyokh’s Wild Goats & Unmarried Women. The London-based octet has been evolving over the past decade, working through a full range of Jewish, klezmer and Romani music along the way. On this release they extend their reach into even more musical traditions, including the sevdalinka of Bosnia and Herzogovinia, and Soviet jazz. Their multicultural ambition is matched by their roster of international talent. Comprised of members from the UK, USA, Greece, Serbia and Turkey, She’Koyokh mixes moving laments with lively, humorous compositions on an album packed full of surprises.
Wild Goats & Unmarried Women opens with “Beregovski Sher/Honga/Freilicher Yontov,” one of several medleys that appear on the record. The tune starts with a moderately paced tribute to Soviet-Jewish ethnomusicologist Moshe Beregovski before building up a head of steam for a Jewish version of a popular Hungarian honga dance. The track finishes with a song composed by Naftule Brandwein, the king of the klezmer clarinet, who on occasion would wear a costume of Christmas lights when he performed, which nearly electrocuted him once as a result of his perspiration. This sort of diversity is not unusual when She’Koyokh arrange pieces together to form something slightly unusual yet completely cohesive.
“Esmeria Min” is a traditional Kurdish love song from Turkey. It features Çiğdem Aslan on vocals who delivers a fine performance, but she really shines on one of album’s most moving tracks, “Selanik Türküsü.”
This Greek tune tells a story of a man who travels to Thessaloniki to find work. While there he falls in love with a beautiful girl and the pair agree to get married. A few days before the wedding they find out out the bride to be has cholera and they beg Death to let them live together a little while longer. Aslan’s voice carries all the emotional weight of the desperate lovers’ plea on an unforgettable composition.
“Ţigăneasca De La Pogoanele” is a quick romp inspired by the recordings of accordionist Constantin Fulgerica and violinist Tudor Pana in addition to the manouche jazz of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. “Teke Zortlatmasi” serves as part of the inspiration behind the album title. Along the Southwestern coast of Turkey the billy goats (tekes) jump up and down to attract females during mating season. The hopping madness carries over into the song with wild abandon.
Wild Goats & Unmarried Women brings the passion of their vocals and instruments together to form a path full of twists and turns, but remains steady throughout. This anthology of European and Asian folk music is a treasure and captures all of the energy this band has to offer.
Originally published in RootsWorld Magazine.