Review

Nomadic Orchestra deliver a platter of genre-bridging balkan-boogie tracks in their new album, Out & About

There’s something about Nomadic Orchestra that just never goes out of style. These guys have been treading the scene for years and they just keep getting better, really. These days they’re injecting genre varietals into their archetypical Balkan strains, and their freshly released lockdown album, Out & About flexes a whole lot of that and more. 

Infectious is how one invariably describes this band. The five-piece brass outfit who spin frenetic dance numbers which speed up cartoonishly as the night progresses. Although they’ve taken the energy down a notch this time around – at least in studio. Out & About sees them pairing their Balkan roots with a solid dose of hip-hop and rock proclivities. As a rule, vocals tend to be few and far between, but when they do make an appearance, they lend a hip-hip punch to the whole thing. 

From spunky opener “Out & About”, which is really an ode to getting back out there post pandemic, to their ever-relatable and snappily clever verses of “I Wish I Was”, the Nomads spin relevant and spunky stories in between extended brass instrumentalism. “Tam Tam” invites you to “shake your butt”, while “Hitman” explodes with their trademark dynamism. 

Though there is something here that is lost in recording. The infectious vibrance and wind-up-toy energy of their live shows – which has gotten many a heaving crowd jumping in unison – doesn’t quite carry through my laptop speakers. It might be because their frenetic energy has actually been toned down a bit this time around – but I’ve always felt this way about their albums, if I’m being honest. 

Nomadic Orchestra boasts one of the most vibrant live shows the South African scene has to offer. And this album, which at its core was written to the memory of Cape Town’s nightlife pre-pandemic, is bred for the dancefloor. I’ll see you there.

Feature pic supplied by artist