FANFARA TIRANA: On 2002, the group was started by members of the Albanian Army band who decided to start a brass band and let the chips fall where they may. The repertoire included the songs they played while moonlighting at weddings and songs from the kaba tradition, which has roots in south Albania and is primarily played on clarinet and violin with an emphasis on individual interpretation and improvisation. They also got in touch with the Albanian most famous folk singer Hysni Zela, who performed for more than 30 years with the Albanian National Folk Song and Dance Ensemble, and lured him out of retirement to come and sing with them.
Their basic repertoire comes from Albanian traditional music but the arrangements add other Balkan rhythms to create a unique fusion of styles from all over the country, the region, and the world. They use elements borrowed from dub reggae, jazz and what sounds like Balkan funk to get people up and dancing. They've become a hot attraction on the European festival and world music circuit. Their debut album Albanian Wedding, was released internationally on the German Piranha label in 2008.
During the past 10 years Fanfara Tirana has performed on the biggest European festivals as WOMAD, ROSKILDE, SZIGET, VENICE CARNIVAL and has been selected on WOMEX, MEDIMEX and others.
TRANSGLOBAL UNDERGROUND: Back in the early nineties drum and bass were two separate things, Asian music was still bracketed as exotic, dub and reggae as dead and anyone playing dance music at any tempo than 100bpm was taken out and shot. Into this sad epoch emerged an ever changing line-up of DJ’s, producers and musicians of all sorts of backgrounds and cultures, linked by a refusal to be straight jacketed into one style and a belief that mixing musical genres didn’t have to be some sort of obscure artistic statement.
Sine then, Trans-Global Underground have become notorious for mixing musical styles and rhythms with a total disregard for musical genres, technological barriers and common sense. Sometimes they’ve been right in the public eye, sometimes behind the screen, but they’ve never stopped being influential. Their mix whatever would have been unthinkable if they hadn’t thought of it first; now that sort of cultural mash-up is commonplace. But they’ve long moved on…
A little history: Their first single ‘Temple Head’ was a statement of intention and gained the status of a club anthem despite operating at a slow funk tempo with Indian classical rhythms, Brazilian percussion and guitar solos. It took a while for the rest the world to catch up, but by the mid-nineties the growth of ambient and trance styles had created a hunger for new ideas and Trans-Global Underground had plenty. By now an acclaimed live act featuring Arabesque vocals, Nepalese temple guardians and a multitude of rappers and percussionists, their first album, ‘Dream of 100 Nations’ reached the top fifty, got ecstatic reviews and topped the indie charts… the record company, Nation Records was totally independent at the time. The second album, ‘International Times’ went top forty and launched the group into Europe.
The schedule got heavier as TGU started remixing and producing, recording the album ‘Diaspora’ under the name of vocalist Natacha Atlas, while at the same time bringing out a third album ‘Psychic Karaoke.’ By now the band had developed a reputation in central and eastern Europe that found a reflection in the gypsy influences in the fourth album, ‘Rejoice Rejoice,’’ subsequent recordings in Prague, Budapest and Sofia and tours that took them as far east as Kazakhstan.
A whole nation of members of the tribe have come and gone….original female vocalist Natacha Atlas found great success as a solo artist, still for the most part produced by TGU, while original male vocalist Tuup came and went at irregular intervals, reappearing unexpectedly in different parts of the world. At various times the line-up has included South African solo artist Doreen Thobekile, Johnny Kalsi from the Dhol Foundation, and still includes Britians greatest sitarist in Sheema Mukherjee.
TGU have diversified even further over the years….producers/DJs Hamid ManTu and Tim Whelan relocated in Cairo for a brief period at the end of the 90s, working for artists like Hakim, Khaled and Kazem El Sahar before the release of the 5th album. ‘Yes Boss Food Corner’ sent TGU on a worldwide journey that lasted 3 years and took them through to the 6th album, ‘Impossible Broadcasting,’ with which they came home…most of them anyway….to the UK and set up their own label, Mule Satellite. 2007 saw the release of ‘Moonshout,’ probably their most ambitious release to date. 2008 has started with a bang by winning the ‘Best Club Global Artist’ at the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards and saw them having another very busy year on the road with over 65 shows worldwide including notable performances at WOMAD, Beautiful Days and Bestival.
After 17 years of perseverance in the industry and thousands of shows later, TGU released their best of album entitled ‘Run Devils & Demons’ April 13th2009. (Nascente) It will showcase the band’s talents over the years and take you on a journey which you will want to take again and again! 2010 sees more energy-filled performances around the globe with a new album scheduled for 2011.
No one at the start would have predicted that after all these years Trans-Global Underground would still have a large amount of respect and influence, that they would still have a loyal following and that they would still have the energy to continue a touring schedule that would finish most groups off. Trans-Global Underground developed a life of its own, goes where it will for it’s own reasons. Everyone else simply follows.