Album Review: Live From Axis Mundi — Gogol Bordello

by Dakin Hardwick on March 14, 2010

The amazing Gogol Bordello are gearing up for a very active 2010. They have a new record coming out on April 27th, called Trans-Contiental Hustle, which will probably be excellent. Around this time, they will be kicking off a world tour, which gives Europe and Northeastern America quite a bit of love, but very little affection toward the rest of the world. (As of yet, of course…) Well, I know all of that can be a long way off, and with all of the Gogol news, it’s hard to be patient for something new. That is, of course, only if you missed the late winter release Live From Axis Mundi.

So, what is this release, you may ask?

Well, it’s mission is two fold, and I will discuss it as such. We begin with Disc 1, which is an  audio disc. This disc is primarily an odds n ends compilation that features a few subtle re-workings of Super Taranta songs. Some of the songs are stretched out a bit, some tracks are tweaked in a few ways that only the most obsessive listener will noticed. They are interesting, but nothing really necessary of you have the original record. The next few songs are b-sides that are considerably more interesting. We have two songs that are a bit dubbier and more world beat oriented than the Gogol’s usual mix of amp’d up gypsy music.  These songs have some interesting bones to them, and could be really great of the band gave them more time to develop, but still not quite the reason to purchase this.

This short release includes a few more demo tracks, which are actually the most interesting part of the audio version of the release, but still doesn’t stand up to repeated listening.

But, once you get passed the odds n sods of the first disc, the real glory of this release is in disc 2. This is what is will keep the fans nourished until we get a proper record. This will keep you content in the time between Gogol visits to your fair town. This is, finally, the closest to perfect way to capture this band.

Much like many other bands that have a reputation for their live shows, their recorded output has been imperfect. None of it has been bad per se, but they have also yet to truly capture the sweaty essence that is the live experience.

Until now.

Disc 2 is a DVD. It’s primary feature is merely a full Gogol Bordello concert. No random interview bits or biographical information. Just a pure concert performance. And, probably one of the best filmed performances of a band that I have ever seen.

The camera work, first and foremost, blew my mind. They managed to capture the insane energy of both the band and the crowd. That’s the biggest struggle with most music dvd’s, which is why few people ever rewatch them. This one stays in the thick of things, and actually manages to make the viewer feel the sweat of the crowd.

The other element that works well from this set if the band’s performance. The band was firing from all pistons at this set, and it shows. It doesn’t feel as if much over-dubbing was needed, nor does it even feel as if they took footage from multiple shows. This is a classic set that covers the band at it’s best.

The extras are also pretty great. We have a few “encore” tracks from the same set that fit in nicely. I don’t really understand why these were left off the regular program, but I don’t make those decisions. The other bit of bonus material is a compilation of music videos from the band’s time spent on Side One Dummy. These are primarily funny clips that capture the energy & DIY asthetic of the band very well, and although all of this you can find on YouTube, it’s nice to have it all on one place.

So, if you are chomping at the bit for some more Gogol, but just plain can’t wait, or want to turn a friend on to one of the greatest bands working today, this is for you. And, if you want to relive the fantastic live set that you just saw after seeing them, head to the merch table and pick this one up. You’d be happy that you did.

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