Kultur Shock,
FUCC the I.N.S.
(Kool Arrow, 2001)

Kultur Shock is a Bosnian-Bulgarian punk Gypsy band based in Seattle. The word "kultur" is simply the Slavic spelling of the word "culture." The band formed as a lark, playing Balkan folk songs. Eventually, Kultur Shock started merging various genres including rock, punk, jazz, funk and the blues in with the folk music. The results can be heard on their CD FUCC the I.N.S..

Now, before you get offended, you should know that the band has nothing against the I.N.S in particular. To quote the promotional material, it does not matter "whether it is the I.N.S., the U.N., NATO, any institution that forbids the natural right to move. Freedom is freedom to move. What we want to say is screw the borders." I like a couple of the quotes in the CD liner notes that support this sentiment: "Every man is born equal depending on where you were born, of course." and "Every man is born free. That depends on how you define freedom?"

Unfortunately, that is about all I like about this CD. The music is so disjointed. The genres mentioned are not really meshed into a coherent sound. Instead, the songs jump around in a confusing discord of noise. While there are parts of several songs that are decent, there is no single song to enjoy as a whole. Jumping back and forth between the genres is truly jarring to the ears.

On top of the bad music, lead singer Gino Srdjan Yevdjevich lacks any singing ability that I can hear. He screams really well when he has to, though. The only point about Yevdjevich that I find impressive is that he sings in Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, English, Romany and Serbian! But lets face it. Bad singing is bad singing regardless of the language.

Besides providing vocals, Yevdjevich also plays the tarmbuka. The band is rounded out by Borislav Trifonov Iochev (drums, bongos and programming), Masa Kobayashi (bass guitars), Mario Butkovich (lead guitar, acoustic 12-string and backing vocals), Val Kiossovski (guitars, vio and synth guitars, programming and backing vocals), Amy Denio (alto sax, zurla and vocals), Josh Stewart (trumpet) and Ambrose Nortness (tenor sax, keyboards and vocals).

An example of a song that just should never have been recorded is "How to Fucc Songs and Irritate." I realize that this song was made in jest. (At least with a title like that, I hope it was). But the song does not come across as funny so much as annoying. Yevdjevich occasionally sings about how he is too sexy for his girls, too sexy for his boys -- an obvious rip off of a song from the mid-'90s. Later in the song, the band sounds like they are singing a folk song where each line ends in an high pitched "eeeee!" All I could think was "arrrgh!" "Irritating" is an understatement.

The promo material keeps stating that Kultur Shock is a band that must be seen live. Perhaps that is true. I imagine that when they play traditional Balkan folk standards as I understand they do on their first CD, Live In Amerika, they are fairly decent. Unfortunately, when they start mixing it all up with the punk, funk, blues and jazz as they do on FUCC the I.N.S., it is nothing but krap! I do not know from personal experience if this band is worth paying for to see live. I do know enough, however, not to recommend this CD. Kultur Shock had the freedom to create this CD. I have the freedom to recommend you avoid it.

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 18 August 2002

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