Many have already pointed this out, but Balkan music is like Europe’s cumbia. Not only do they have compatible rhythms, but the two genres also have a lot in common sociologically, since they’re usually regarded as low-brow music of the migrant working classes and all that.

So the connection is there and Jaro Milko is not the first to notice it and explore it. Germany’s Una Más Trío has already coined the portmanteau “Balkumbia” in their 2009 bastard cover of “La Banda Está Borracha.” The difference is that Jaro, a Swiss guitarist, approached it from a live band angle and mixed in some Cuban influences as well, resulting in something new altogether.

With sparse bilingual lyrics and a focus on the band leader’s guitar, this foreigner’s interpretation of the South American folkloric genre might remind us of early Chicha Libre stuff. It might sound nothing like your grandma’s cumbia but I always find it interesting to see how people on the other side of the pond incorporate our music into their own styles.

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