With his goatee and hat, smoking a cig for all his photos, the intently hip Kottarashky, aka Nikola Gruev, is a Bulgarian architect by day. On this debut, he's mixed a compelling collage of his particular “World” ingredients: rhythms mashing train bells, field samples, accordions, horns, and gypsy groans and shouts. Among the CD’s near trance-outs is “Tempe,” with sounds just shifting/intelligent enough to pull cognition back in, which can be a bit jarring, but is one of the best ways to exercise mental muscles.

Whether it's through his introduction of samples collected from around Bulgaria or from more established Balkan artists, including Fanfare Ciocarlia and Jony Iliev, Kottarashky blends it all to convey warm urban and rural snapshots. More than a few tracks, like the Latin/gypsy-beat-based “Chetiri,” provide fodder for what I like to call “interpretive dance.” But the whole ends up feeling more contemplative than clubby, especially through interludes conveying more than a digital heart, as with the touching “September,” and, to some degree, “Mandra,” which is alluring and catchy. I’d get his next one just to see if he comes up with more tracks like those two.

  • Album title: Opa Hey! (2010)
  • Artist: Kottarashky
  • Label: Asphalt Tango
  • Songs: (1) Chetiri (2) Opa Hey (3) Tempe (4) Tebe (5) Mandra (6) Long Song (7) Lele (8) Blatoto (9) September (10) Myanmar (11) I Want You To Sleep (12) Bell

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