"Kombucha Monster" from the album Neptune's Daughter
They are four very talented musicians from Brooklyn who draw their musical horsepower from a broad European legacy and, once on stage, pull their audience in as if they were sweeping them up in a sorcerer's spell.
Few bands are so willing to dig around in the grab bag of musical genres. Fewer still can pull it off with so much heart and fun. Their performances are a quirky, vigorously hued tapestry unlike any other you're likely to hear. They call themselves the Luminescent Orchestrii.
I first heard them while they were touring with their album Too Hot to Sleep, one of my favorite discoveries of the past year. Since its release in 2005, the Orchestrii's lineup has changed. The original quintet became a quartet. Benjy Fox-Rosen stepped in on bass, joining violinists Sarah Alden and Rima Fand, along with Sxip Shirey on nearly everything else, from melodica to Resophonic guitar to bullhorn harmonica.
The band's revamped lineup has settled in with some great work on Neptune's Daughter, fleshing out ideas introduced in the previous work and adding some spirited flourishes that catch the ear like a raucous party in a gypsy camp. The Orchestrii is not shy. Their tunes are seductive: part rowdy invitation to dance, part wistful, inventive vocal harmony. Then there's the cheeky, in-your-face energy they bring to it all.
Romanian, Appalachian, punk, Klezmer, hip-hop, and gypsy traditions collide in their music. They may have emerged from New York City's lively East European-influenced music scene, but they've carved out their own turf — experimenting, expanding, innovating. And if they can make music with it, they'll haul it to the gig and give it a whirl — as in whirling dervish.
"Eclectic" doesn't really do justice to the music, and "accomplished" doesn't do justice to the level of musicianship you'll hear. This is the kind of band that can provoke love at first listen — a band that people drag their friends to hear.
Luminescent Orchestrii performs an early-evening show at the Pour House (1977 Maybank Hwy., 843-571-4343) at 7 p.m. on Mon. Feb. 16. Admission is $10 ($8 adv.). Visit www.charlestonpourhouse.com and www.lumii.org for more.