In geographic space the farthest city from New York is Perth, Australia, but in mental space the farthest is certainly Timbuktu. The Malian city sits on the southern border of the Sahara Desert and is so distant that schoolchildren name it as an impossible place. Dictionaries define it as “the most distant place imaginable” or someplace “foreign, outlandish.” Appropriately then, The Sway Machinery — JDub Records’ preeminent cosmopolitan culture-divers — travelled to Timbuktu to make their new album, “The House of Friendly Ghosts Vol. 1.”
Eclecticism is a virtue too often touted by musicians and critics. Reviews and press releases formulaically repeat the cliché that “artist x blends elements of genre y with style z.” While this may be relevant to the archivists amongst us, such statements really say very little about the quality or authenticity of the music in question.
If Arab club music, Israeli hip-hop and klezmer had a ménage à trios, its love child might sound something like Balkan Beat Box. Joining musical genres and artists across political spectrums the group aims to erase political borders through music saying, “our ears don’t have them, why should we?”