The music of wandering
Latcho Drom: a journey into the soul of Gypsy culture
Available through Larrikin records
Reviewed by Sujatha Fernandes
Latcho Drom is the soundtrack of the film of the same name currently screening around Australia. The collection captures something of the life, energy and colour of Rom (Gipsy) culture, which has not been shaped within the boundaries of any one nation or state, but which derives from their experience of travelling.
The soundtrack moves through eight different countries, documenting the journey from ancient India through Turkey, Romania and Egypt. The CD starts with the deserts of Rajasthan and the colourful, rhythmic interplay of the traditional sitar and tablas with the powerful, clear voice of a young child.
From the determined steps of a ghaziya dancer from upper Egypt to the melancholy of Turkish violins, the listener is transported between different cultural experiences and landscapes, all connected by the familiar rhythms and styles of Rom music. Each piece reflects the diversity of the experience of the Rom, often weaving together styles from different countries and creating new styles.
The Rom were persecuted in many countries for being outsiders; in Nazi Germany, 400,000 were murdered in the concentration camps. The Rom have always presented a strong resilience in the face of cultural integration, but have also been open to adopting musical styles and dances wherever they go. Latcho Drom is a tribute to the tenacity of a group maintaining their cultural identity, while at the same time exploring and experimenting with the traditional forms of different countries.