International Orange!, produced by Tod A and mixed by Tamir Muskat of Balkan Beat Box, carries on from where their previous collaboration, The Golden Hour, took off,slipping across new borders into uncharted territory. Created in Istanbul and Tel Aviv during the 2011 Arab Spring, their latest release captures the frenetic pulse of a world in the state of flux. International Orange! continues in the proud Firewater tradition of cultural and stylistic mash-ups. High-energy Turkish percussion drives jagged guitars and horns on eleven anthems of frustration and hope, movement and transformation. The songs tap into grooves as disparate as Turkish maqsoum, Punjabi bhangra, Jamaican ska, Greek rebetiko, classic punk and old-school mambo. Muskat’s mixing aesthetic draws on everything from the Bollywood excess of ‘60s-era R.D. Burman to the early dub experiments of King Tubby. Yet the team manages to meld all these flavors into a cohesive whole, as only they can do.
Tod A’s lyrics are as poetic and playfully acerbic as ever. “Ex-Millionaire Mambo” tosses caustic jibes at the architects of the 2009 financial crisis: “It’s tough to be chic when you live in a cardboard box.” “A Little Revolution” draws on the frustration of a generation with limited options and even fewer outlets: “Got no job and got no cash / going nowhere and going fast.” And “Up From The Underground” warns of the imminent sea-change just around the corner: “You can beat us up, but you can’t beat us down.”
But through all the black humor runs a current of genuine positivity. “I like the fact that, during the so-called ‘flotilla crisis’ between Turkey and Israel, Turkish and Israeli musicians were collaborating on this record,” Tod says. “It’s a step in the right direction. Even when governments can’t seem to get along, there can still be hope for the rest of us.”