La Cherga

Patchwork is the word that’s often used to describe this transcontinental ensemble’s heady mix of pop, jazz, funk, hip-hop and rock. Fronted by Bosnian singer and MC Adisa Zvekic, the group has members from everywhere from Macedonia to Jamaica, a geographical diversity that, much as it does with the band Gogol Bordello, accounts for the exuberant Balkan, dub and Middle Eastern modalities that course through their music. And as with their Gypsy-punk counterparts, La Cherga’s music packs not just a sonic but a moral wallop.

In “One,” rhyming over a chugging metal guitar riff, Zvekic affirms the unity of struggling people everywhere. “Sing on, sing on / There is something true beyond all that’s fake / Look on, look on / There is something within you nobody can break,” she exhorts. In “Resolve & Evolve,” spurred on by Eastern European brass and staccato funk guitar, she urges listeners to “never stop questioning why.”

As the album’s title suggests, revolutionary messages abound in “Revolve,” but they wouldn’t be half as compelling were they not set to such irrepressible melodies and grooves. “Sufi Dub” is echo-laden dervish music, “Last Temptation” features riffing horns and a ska hiccup, and “Voda” is built on an atmospheric bed of electronics and saxophone. “Rise Up,” meanwhile, could double as a description of what it’s like to experience La Cherga’s enthralling music. “Change arrives when you least expect it and the waves overwhelm your heart,” sings Zvekic over a reggae- and Gypsy-inflected arrangement. “It’s the everlasting diversity of life.”

Bill Friskics-Warren

Recommended tracks:

“Resolve & Evolve,” “Rise Up,” “One”

Cover art for La Cherga's album ‘’Revolve.’’ (Courtesy of Asphalt Tango Records)