I first discovered Balkan Beat Box while playing FIFA 17, and also while consistently losing to both my brother and the computer. I am hoping at some point to do a deep dive into the FIFA soundtracks, as they are always curating some amazing playlists that include artists from all over. Balkan Beat Box is one of those groups. I would love to say I can pinpoint the genre this Israeli-American group fits into but it is so hard. The number of sounds, instruments, and techniques these guys use is next level. Let’s take a look at there 2016 album Shout It Out.
Before we can dive into the instrumentals, we have to focus on Tomer Yosef’s voice. Being the frontman for such a diverse group, I can only imagine it is tricky to find the right sound and vibe for that position, however, Yosef is the right person. It is not even a question. He adds this sort of flair and pizazz when hitting certain stokes. It’s not strained or emotional, it is sassy and punchy; proven most importantly on “I Trusted U,” the track off FIFA 17. His vocals just feel right. Thinking about other artists or styles of singing, nothing makes much sense and I keep circling back to the rough and natural sound of Yosef’s voice. Balkan Beat Box also utilizes background vocals on almost every track, a nice touch that harmonizes with the lead singer.
Watching these guys perform live demonstrates that they bring a lot of people up on stage to get their distinct sound across. With saxophones, guitars and bass guitars, accordions, and percussion, you can imagine that is a lot. The main members, however, are Yosef alongside Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat. With a combination of live instrumentals, samples, and some crazy percussion at times, the music they are making is a combination of sounds from electronic, alternative, reggae, and Jewish and Middle Eastern folk. Just listen to “I’ll Watch Myself” and “Chin Chin” to truly hear the combinations of genres. At times, I almost get a feel similar to Moon Hooch, the jazz fusion trio out of Brooklyn. Plus the percussion on the whole project is great.
Balkan Beat Box is providing a smorgasbord of sound on Shout It Out. Nothing is wrong with that at all, however, it can be difficult making an album as such flow together nicely. They seem to have this issue at times. Some transitions are smooth while others feel more abrupt. The flow just isn’t 100% there. Yet, they use “chasers” after the songs “Mad Dog” and “This Town” to almost soothe your ears it seems. The “chasers” add a new way of working outros on to a project that is unique and fitting to such a funky group.
“Give It a Tone,” “I Trusted U,” “I’ll Watch Myself,” and “Mad Dog”
Trust me when I say, if you play FIFA, you will like these guys. They are a solid group who is throwing together some seriously crazy sounds. Just give it a try. I am feeling Shout It Out is a:
Once you have given Balkan Beat Box a try, start looking into pretty much any funk jazz band that includes saxophones. You won’t be disappointed.