Disko Partizani! sees Shantel successfully synthesizing his experiences as a producer, musician and DJ to create catchy, energetic and festive pop songs, full of hooks and surprises. Eastern European elements are adopted with real respect for their cultural roots, and then fused and transformed into a new form of urban music which works as an interface between east and west. Venerable melodies and rhythms – some of them dating back to the Byzantine Empire – are being rejuvenated, and used as a new source of inspiration for modern, trans-European pop, a welcome alternative to some of the more worn-out Anglo-Saxon musical models… But, beyond these underlying concepts, this is first and foremost an album of pure, unadulterated fun.
Shantel conceived these songs while travelling, and found inspiration in the most unlikely locations: a railroad station in Romania, a highway stop in Greece, an airport terminal in Istanbul, an Arabic Café in Tel-Aviv, a taxi stand in Sofia, the back seat in a Mercedes Benz belonging to a Macedonian gypsy king, backstages in London, Paris and Rio de Janeiro.
One year later, Shantel presented the blueprint for Disko Partizani to his musician friends. He was welcomed with simultaneous reactions of joy and dismay: "What is that? Belly dance meets hip hop, electronica-fuelled Balkan stompers, klezmer reggae rock’n’roll tunes? Have you gone mad?" Shantel needed brave and skilled warriors to bring the concept to fruition. He brought together a rich cast of instrumentalists and singers to complement the duo he forms with his studio partner Marcus Darius (who plays drums, while Shantel sings, programs, plays guitar, percussion and keyboards). These numerous and distinguished guests include Serbian singer Vesna Petkovic, trumpeter Marko Markovic (the son and Nr 1 sideman of Serbian brass music king Boban Markovic, Bulgarian clarinettist Filip Simeonov (from Taraf de Haidouks), Shantel's old Greek friend, Thessaloniki-based singer and composer Jannis Karis, François Castiello, who plays accordion with famous French band Bratsch, Canadian singer Brenna MacCrimmon, who achieved cult status in Istanbul through Fatih Akin's "Crossing the Bridge" film, Bulgarian saxophonist Vladimir Karparov, Sashko Wladigeroff with his biting trumpet sound, Izmir-based violinist Costas Ramos, keyboardist Marcus Schumacher (from the band Äl Jawala), Ruth Maria Renner aka Miss Platnum, a Berlin-based Romanian r’n’b vocalist, Viennese musicians Kurt Bauer and Lothar Lässer, who have frequently been seen playing violin and accordion at Shantel’s side on stages all over the world, members of Tel Aviv's Balkan surf rock band Boom Pam, Ukrainian DJ/vocalist Yuriy Gurzhy (of Russendisko fame), trumpeter Roy Paci (Manu Chao), London bass player Ken Taylor, Berlin reggae/dancehall queen Mantiz… the list is as long as it is colourful, and a linguistic kaleidoscope prevailed during the studio session. This all reflects the style and sound of this album: where else can you hear a song in both Turkish and Greek ? Which other record contains vocals in English, Romanian, Serbian, Rom (Gypsy), as well as an ode to "gypsyfication" (Tsiganizatsia, tsiganizatsia, come on baby, this is what you need, as the chorus of the title track goes…) ?
- Balkan Beat