The six members of Barbez have a collaborative resumé that includes Brian Eno, David Byrne, the Boredoms, Two Foot Yard, Bang on a Can, the Sea and Cake, Guv'ner and Air. During their own highly theatrical performances, however, the Brooklyn-based chamber-punk outfit creates a pan-bohemian sound that pools from Argentine tango, French musette, Hungarian and Polish folk songs, klezmer and the occasional melancholy waltz. Fronted by firebrand dancer and husky-lunged chanteuse Ksenia Vidyaykina, who hails from St. Petersburg and sings in both Russian and English, Barbez is as comfortable covering an obscure Residents tune as it is dusting off Edith Piaf or postwar German composers such as Bertolt Brecht and Hans Eisler. With theremin virtuoso Pamelia Kurstin coaxing classical tones from an instrument most often associated with horror-movie soundtracks, the band expands its exotic flavor with marimba, vibraphone and electronic melodies scribbled into a processed Palm pilot. Touring in support of its third full-length, Insignificance, produced for Important Records by Martin Bisi (Swans, Sonic Youth), Barbez conjures the Old World in unworldly ways.
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