All over the world, freethinkers are seeking camaraderie beyond borders, searching for new friends from distant places, trying to find a way to communicate in any language that makes authentic interaction possible. It happens in the vast space of the world-wide web, in foreign lands, and in the urban jungles of big cosmopolitan cities. These experiences are captured on Mhm A-ha Oh Yeah Da-Da, the latest release by Darko Rundek & Cargo Orkestar on Piranha Musik. The CD’s songs tell of the loneliness of exile, the placelessness of the internet, the reality of modern metropolis, and the utopia of a love that transcends all borders.
The title, Mhm A-ha Oh Yeah Da-Da, is a pan-global translation of colloquial affirmation. While an indication of mutual understanding, many of the songs on the album focus on the struggle to find common linguistic ground, like the story of “Helga,” which recounts a budding romance between a German woman and a foreigner on the streets of Berlin, or the narrator in the opening track “U-Bahn,” who speaks in three different languages—French, German, and English—as he tries to navigate his way through a foreign train station.
The concept finds cultural parallels as well. As a musician drawn to Paris from his native Zagreb during the Yugoslavian civil war, Darko Rundek, who with his poetic talent was an idol for a whole generation as a singer in the New Wave band Haustor, had to find a new musical family in a place where he was not as well known. Gathering together fellow experimental musicians from different backgrounds, Darko formed Cargo Orkestar, a band constantly experimenting with sonic and lyrical reflections of contemporary experiences. The name of the band itself serves as a kind of metaphor for the various cultural influences that each member of the band brings with them, just as people are carriers of cultural influences when they move from place to place.
The story of Cargo Orkestar is indicative of a new, global social phenomenon dubbed the urban tribal movement. Characterized by the tendency for young people to be defined less by their geographical boundaries and more by their affiliation with like-minded individuals, no matter where they are, this new societal reality relies on venues like the internet, chat rooms, and informal sites of cultural interaction for communication and connection. If Cargo Orkestar’s first release, Ruke (2004), focuses on the sensory experiences of being in new places and seeing new things, their newest release focuses on moments of interaction; the daily affairs of exile, migration, and constant movement.
Musically, the songs on Mhm A-Ha Oh Yeah Da-Da reflect the experimentation with different influences that each band member brings. Refusing to be bound to one particular style or language, the album ranges from the cabaret-like “Slick Senorita” to the Balkan dance rhythms of “Kolo;” from the eerily poetic atmosphere of “12 Ptica” to the slightly pornographic scat of “Wanadoo.” Electronic musician Vedran Peternel, who first collaborated with Darko to transmit radio broadcasts from a cargo ship in the Adriatic during the civil war, provides samples and loops of acoustic instruments as the basis of many of the songs. Other musical collaborators include Isabel, the French violinist from Switzerland; Dušan Vraniæ and Ðani Pervan, instrumentalists who were once flown out of Sarajevo during the civil war; French double bass player Bruno Arnal; French/Portuguese trombonist Emmanuel Ferraz; and Igor Pavlica, former trumpeter of Haustor. Also included is a bonus video track of “Svitanje,” a sentimental homage to the perfect timelessness of love through the ages.