I have neither television nor radio, and my sluggardly internet connection renders searching the world wide web for new music rather arduous and irksome. Consequently, my exposure to music beyond my iTunes library is fairly restricted to the rare YouTube video that I’m able to stream in full or what I overhear from the village’s one radio station in the school staff room (which is primarily in Inuktitut). Given the monotony, I undergo the occasional musical hiatus.
My absence from the world of contemporary chart-toppers became obvious to me when, on New Year’s Eve, my friends knew every song to a ‘t’ while I was hearing each for the first time. I realized that I’d heard, maybe, a measly 1/4 of the songs that the DJ played. I was surprised at just how many of them were released well over a year ago.
When I lived in Shanghai, I found it amusing that Chinese musical mainstream was “so 1990’s”. Popular were the Backstreet Boys and Michael Jackson (and not even their most up-to-date), and spilling from speakers in every store, café and taxi were songs like BSB’s “I Want it That Way” and MJ’s “Thriller”. I remember driving with Jerry and Charlie to Huangshan for one of our weekend hiking trips in the mountains, and telling them, after the fifth BSB sing-along, that the album they were listening to was released and all the rage way back in 1996, when I was barely a teenager. Their minds were blown. I didn’t understand how a group that was so well-known in my ‘world’ could, 14 years later, only be emerging into the spotlight elsewhere. But now I have a better idea.
I listen to music mostly when I am working out. Any other time, I am either reading or writing or doing something from which music would be a distraction. I do have a playlist through which I cycle when I am skipping or running, but this list is so old that its songs have grown stale and no longer provide the energy boost that they once did.
While I was in Moncton, however, I joined my friend Jordan for lunch at Green Dragon Sushi (a small Japanese fusion restaurant in the downtown area). As we munched away on delectable maki and nigiri and Japanese salads, exuberant beats resonated throughout the dining room. Overhearing the chef and the waitress converse about the group, I thought they’d be a wonderful addition to my workout repertoire. I made a note-to-self and, upon my return home, promptly added a few selections to my library.
The group was Balkan Beat Box – an Israeli gypsy punk/electronica/funk group.
I was inspired to write this post of awesome – musical discoveries – because this evening, after many a workout accompanied by my mundane and far-too-outdated playlist, I will do my skipping workout to the beats of this fresh new sound.
To hear one of their songs, click here.