Hawk And A Hacksaw (Leaf Label, May 7)

Hawk And A Hacksaw has a new collaborative disc/dvd out on May 7 (Leaf Label). It’s been reviewed/previewed quite elegantly here. But still I’d like to second their judgement and continue to attempt to corner the mp3 blog market on all things slavic/gypsy/polka/brass band.

Zozobra [Download]

Hawk and a Hacksaw playing live in Italy


One Response to “Hawk And A Hacksaw (Leaf Label, May 7)”

  1. skinnywhiteboy says:

    thought you might like to read my review of them last night.

    King Naat Veliov and the Original Kocani Orkestar; and A Hawk and a Hacksaw with the Hun Hangár Ensemble

    The Dome Concert Hall, Brighton, 12 May 2007

    How does one dance to a Macedonian wedding band? That was the dilemma facing the good people of Brighton in the second half of this double bill of Eastern European folk.

    Although music of Romany origin is little known in Britain, film buffs will have heard Naat Veliov play on Emir Kusturica’s film ‘The Time of the Gypsies’. A fat, charismatic Telly Savalas look-alike, the King’s music is highly influential in the ex-Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia. This was a one-off performance for the Orkestar, travelling to the UK especially for this appearance at the Brighton Festival.

    In keeping with its use in weddings and festivals, Balkan brass bands play happy, high tempo dance music. The Orkestar is based on trumpets, (including Veliov’s brother Orhan) saxophones, tuba and percussion, which maintain a funky, syncopated attack. The King impressive girth swung with the rhythm, and his cocky skill with the trumpet was really quite sexual. The impression overall was akin to Herb Alpert on speed, and by the second tune the crowd were up doing an impression of string in a wind tunnel.

    The music may as well have been local versions of the Birdy Song for all we knew, but with guidance from a few flag-waving Macedonians in the aisles, the audience picked up enough dancing tips to make it happily through a long set without dislocating anything. Encores were demanded and given, and it was a sweaty, smiling Festival audience who eventually spilled out into the street.

    The first half was very different. Jeremy Barnes, the leader of A Hawk and a Hacksaw, failed to get people dancing despite repeated offers to join the band on stage. Backed with the virtuoso four piece Hun Hangár from Budapest, the music was just too complex, too dark and emotional – even on up-tempo songs such as ‘Ihabibi’ from their new EP.

    Ultimately however, this was the most rewarding part of the evening, starting with a surprise Mariachi-style entrance from the back of the hall. Violinist Heather Trost – the ‘hacksaw’ half of AHAAH – and cymbalom player Balázs Unger struck up an eerie march, and Barnes and the rest of the ensemble wove their way to the stage wearing grotesque masks. Leaving an enormous football rattle with a bemused member of the audience, a short set began on a strange mixture of tools: cymbalom, trumpet, saxophone, violin, accordion and simple foot-operated drums.

    ‘In the River’, from 2006 album ‘The Way the Wind Blows’ was the most straightforward of a varied mixture of songs. Reminiscent of the legendary ‘fuzz-folk’ band Neutral Milk Hotel that Barnes drummed for, the song was stripped down to showcase his percussive accordion playing. The rest of the set was based on their new EP with Hun Hangár, and included ‘Vajdaszentivány’, a warp speed cymbalom solo from Unger, and stirring Hungarian pipes from Béla Ágoston.

    AHAAH’s contemporary edges and willingness to experiment showed through and made the performance stand apart from a textbook folk gig. The contrast between the two shows made this evening more complete – satisfaction for the head and the feet.