No Smoking Orchestra: Life is a Miracle

Although not received until early 2005 this ‘04 release instantaneously rocketed to the top of my “best of” list for last year. How do I even begin to describe this totally unique band? While Bosnian filmmaker and guitarist Emir Kusturica seems to attract most of the attention of No Smoking Orchestra these days, this is truly a group effort that depends as much on singer Dr. Nelle Karajlic’s acerbic vocals and violinist Dejan Sparavalo’s inspired arranging and writing as Kusturica’s celebrity. Equal parts vaudeville, punk rhythms and gypsy music, this is unlike anything many of you have ever been subjected to. It must be noted that this music is “inspired and taken from” the quirky film of the same name so variations on the main theme are revisited throughout the album. But the individual songs like “Wanted Man,” “Who Killed the DJ,” “Ovo je Musiki Svet” and “Gladno Srce” are the main attraction here — marches driven by the sloppy (by design) gypsy brass band, unhinged operatic singing, reasonable acoustic jazz guitar, swirling interaction between tuba, accordion and gypsy violin and more indescribable zaniness. This CD is an utter delight and highly recommended for those who are looking for uniqueness that isn’t confined to any one genre. Punk? At times. Folk-rock? Absolutely! Camp? If that’s what you wanna call it. This is the best damn soundtrack recording ever created, period!

February 2005

Dave Sleger

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