Golden Horns: The Best of Boban i Marko Marković Orkestar

The Serbian trumpet virtuoso Boban Marković and his protégé son Marko have become legends of Balkan Gypsy brass and this album acts as unequivocal evidence as to why.

Golden Horns offers a well-rounded summary of the musical phenomenon that is the Markovićs, tracking the incredible career of the father and son team. The album was compiled by the Berlin-based, Bosnian-born Balkan ‘beatologist’ DJ Robert Soko, the mastermind behind the Balkan Beats movement. Soko explains, ‘As a DJ, I’ve had nearly 20 years to see the reaction Boban i Marko Marković Orkestar get from the crowd.’

Soko describes the Boban i Marko Marković Orkestar best, ‘They are an authentic Serbian brass band who reinterpret traditional pieces and play their own compositions in a listenable, danceable manner. They are just so good at conveying the beauty of Southeast European music and making it palatable for Western audiences. At the same time they are constantly experimenting with other musical genres – jazz, soul, classical or even disco – melting various elements together and producing a new sound of their own.’

With a career as illustrious as the Markovićs, a ‘best of’ compilation is not only justifiable but necessary. Marković the elder had founded his own orchestra by the age of 20 and competed every year in the Guča Festival brass band competition where he won first trumpet so many times he was eventually asked to stop competing. Marković the younger picked up the instrument at the tender age of five and joined his father’s Orkestar when he was only 14. The two have been taking the Balkan brass scene by storm ever since.

The compilation opens with the track ‘Khelipe E Cheasa’, which Soko describes as ‘simply kick a**’. It is the perfect opener with brilliant Marković horn lines and killer beats. The album moves through a variety of classic tracks including the pulsing beats of ‘Mundo Čoček’, the sensuous lines of ‘Şina Nari’, the bouncy lightheartedness of ‘Udri Mile’ and mind-boggling speed of ‘Džumbus Funk’.

There’s also a great arrangement of ‘Hava Nagila’ and the track ‘Od Srca’, which featured on the soundtrack to Angelina Jolie’s film In the Land of Blood and Honey. One of my favourites is ‘SAT’, which is seductive in its simplicity and alluring in its harmonies.

In addition to the classics, Golden Horns also features two brilliant remixes – ‘Go Marko Go’ by Soko and ‘Cinnamon Girl’ by [dunkelbunt] (aka Ulf Lindemann). As a perfect closing, the remixes add a new dimension and offer you more than most ‘best of’ albums.

With a back catalogue as prolific as the Markovićs, it goes without saying something will be missing from a single disc compilation. I am however disappointed to see the blindingly fast ‘Hopa Copa’ omitted. To me, this particular track proves why Boban and Marko are masters of the Balkan trumpet, with impressive finger dexterity.

In the end, I do have to give it to Soko who has put together an album that represents a comprehensive summary of the Balkan Brass Kings’ legendary story.

This review originally appeared on Musika.

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