Welcome to Planet Mashable, featuring a Zurich-based Czech expatriate who plays grunge-laced surf guitar and fronts a band specializing in Balkan music by way of Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, and Peru. Cumbia hails from Colombia, but Jaro Milko’s “Cumbia Griega” makes you suspect Dick Dale got hijacked by a group of belly dancers. “El Topo” sports fuzzed-out guitar and filler organ notes evocative of an electric Kool-Aid acid test south of the border, “All in the Past” is surf music with a reggae back-beat, “Belly’s Bounce” jiggles to mariachi-influenced blaring brass, and “Nah Nah Nah” is tongue-in-cheek Django jazz.
If you’re looking for the Cuban parts implied by the band name, you’ll find it in the swaying chorus of “Miseria,” but you’ll also hear some dance hall tricks thrown in to keep you slightly off stride. Once he’s got you there, he knocks you completely off your pins on “Danza Mentirosa,” which sounds like an intergalactic sound experiment.
Even the cover art and album title signal that Milko is more interested in making an offbeat record than in pleasing purists. He sometimes goes too far, particularly with his growly vocals. Perhaps he’s trying to lampoon Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello, but it sounds like he simply can’t sing a note. But he sure can play and he takes us on a musical journey that covers more ground than National Geographic.•