Broadly speaking, there’s two sorts of rock’n’roll in the world. There’s the sort that bows to the past, worships the sacred cows retrospectively and always defines itself in the dark shadows of its own choicely selected record collection. And then there’s the other kind of rock’n’roll.
“There were never any good old days/They are today, they are tomorrow”, barks Eugene Hütz, as ‘Super Taranta!’ flexes
its long limbs, twangs its wooden fiddle, and springs joyously into life. This is that other kind of rock’n’roll.
Sure, with their ragged gypsy garb, super-shiny accordions and astonishingly brilliant facial hair, New York’s Gogol Bordello could have fallen off a caravan any time in the last 100 years. But the likes of ‘Wonderlust King’ and ‘Your Country’ sound far too vital to be retro at all, wild-eyed aural smorgasbords of completley delirious Romani rhythms, punk crunch and dub bounce that shatter ghettos with righteous power.
The politics of that whole ‘world music’ thing is uncertain territory, too often an excuse to sell ersatz slop to hand-wringing Western guilt freaks desperate to feel ‘cosmopolitan’. But while there’s an element of social conscience here – see ‘Zina-Marina’, a cautionary tale about human trafficking – ultimately, Gogol are all about a collective euphoria that’s right in the here and now. While other bands are trying to work out whether the ’60s or the ’70s was best for music, Gogol Bordello know it’s somewhere between 3am and 6am, when vision blurs, bodies whirl, and the world – all of it – suddenly begins to make sense.