Beyond the Pale / Ruckus

Not fond of the graphic element, although use of a Stencil typeface does enhance a sense of travel and motion

Beyond the Pale / Ruckus, 2017
CD, downloads available from Borealis Records and iTunes.

Beyond the Pale's latest release is an energetic burst of world music performed by a mature and exciting ensemble. Consisting of mandolin, violin, bass, clarinet, and accordion, the band starts out performing a sort of Balkan/Klezmer world fusion that is ultimately its own, uncategorizable, unmistakable mix. From the opening "Atlas Revolt," the band grabs its listeners ears and never lets go.

In sunniness and expertise (and perhaps because of the excellent accordion) I am frequently reminded of the Portland, OR band, "3 Leg Torso," but one that is geographically and musically centered somewhat to the east of Western Europe. The sense of exploration, enhanced by intricate interplay, as on "Ispravnost Licne Vizije," the klezmerized "Batuta," or the Stephane Grapelli-ish "The Whole Thing" make this a recording to which I have been returning, continuously, for months.

It wasn't until I started typing up this review that I realized half of the album is traditional music, made new by the band. I think this matters. Those of us who love traditional music love traditional music. But what matters most to me is music that is grounded in tradition, but new. When new songs such as Bret Higgins' "Ruckus in Ralja" or Eric Stein's "The Whole Thing" sound entirely traditional, and traditional songs such as the closing "Hora" and "Bulgar" sound new, the band succeeds perfectly.

If you aleady know this band, this recording is like the others, but better and reflective of the longer journey. If you are new to the band, that makes this an excellent place to start.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 4 Jul 2018.

Personnel this recording:
Aleksandar Gajic: violin
Bret Higgins: bass
Milos Popovic: accordion
Eric Stein: mandolin
Martin van de Ven: clarinets


  1. Atlas Revolt (Higgins) 3:58
  2. Oltenilor (trad./arr. BtP) 3:52
  3. Shutka (trad./arr. BtP) 6:03
  4. Ispravnost licne vizue (Gajic) 5:12
  5. The whole thing (Stein) 5:37
  6. Batuta (trad./arr. BtP) 4:09
  7. Moldavsky (trad./arr. BtP) 3:43
  8. Ruckus in Ralja (Higgins) 4:30
  9. Andale (Gajic) 4:48
  10. Mila's dance (van de Ven) 4:06
  11. Ion dragoi (trad./arr. BtP) 2:51
  12. Hora (trad./arr. BtP) 3:37
  13. Bulgar (trad./arr. BtP) 3:08

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