Crafting a kind of homage recording can be tricky business, especially if you is paying reverence to a dated sound and applying that sound to your own compositions.
Walking that fine line where adoration doesn’t cross over into parody or a pale copycat effort has to come with some true convictions, not only to the original sound but also to your own musical chops and whether you have anything new to add. Well as luck would have it Turkish singer, songwriter and guitarist Umut Adan proves rightly he’s got the chops and can kick some ass on his international debut recording Bahar (meaning Spring), out on the Riverboat Records label.
Diving deep into the Anatolian rock movement of the late 1960s, Mr. Adan has revived a sound familiar to devotees of the Turkish rock scene and musicians like Cem Karaca, Fikret Kizilok and Erkin Koray. While I am sometimes skeptical about claims of retro-sounding recordings, Mr. Adan has indeed captured the psychedelic rock sound; so much so it’s a little eerie and wholly satisfying.
Teaming up with producer and musician Marco Fasolo and producer and engineer Liam Watson, who just happens to be London’s Toe Rag studio founder where Bahar was recorded, Mr. Adan breathes a renewed musical life into Anatolian rock’s heyday by recording magic and good old fashioned rock compositions. Divvying up the work load, Mr. Adan plays acoustic and electric guitars, percussion, Mellotron and belts out the vocals on Bahar, while Mr. Fasolo takes care of electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums, percussion, mellotron and piano.
While the political messages
of Bahar might be lost on those who don’t speak Turkish, the music is meaty and
entrancing enough to cross any language barriers. Proof is opening track
“Bembeyaz Cananım” Dedicated to Turkish folk musician and composer Muhlis
Akarsu, this track embodies all the goodness of 60s Anatolian rock.
Following up with a meaty beat and dishy guitar lines “Şeytanın Aklını Çeldim,” Bahar perfects that electrified folk/rock sound. And it just gets better with tracks like “Ortasından Gel,” “Güneş” and the folksy love ballad “Zaman Zaman” by Fikret Kizilok.
Bahar get another hit of folk with “Arabam Kaldi’a” by Mahsui Serif. Tracks like “Dünyalardan Şen Bahar” and “ Sevdiğimi Seçtim” are as close to time travel as you are likely to get. Closing with a song about “the possibilities for humankind to better itself,” “Ana Baba Bacı Gardaş” sticks neatly to not only the sound of the 60s but also the roots of political message in Anatolian rock and folk music, and that’s no comfortable feat today in President Erdogan’s Turkey.
Bahar‘s blast from the past psychedelic/rock vibe might seem out of place, but the state of world right now might just feel the need for some solid rock rhythms and protest vocals, dig it? Also, kudos go to Ramazan Can for the wildly rich cover art. The description far out comes to mind.
Ahmet Erdogdular started studying music at an early age with his father, Ömer Erdoğdular, and continued his musical development with the guidance of the renowned musician Niyazi Sayin. He participated in various concerts as a lead singer while still a teenager.
Ahmet holds a BA degree from the Istanbul Technical University State Conservatory where he also completed his Master’s degree in Turkish Classical Music under the guidance of Professor Alaeddin Yavas?a. He specialized in Turkish gazel (improvisation) technique, while his academic research is on the use of music and poetry in gazel forms of the late Ottoman period.
Ahmet studied makam and improvisation techniques with Niyazi Sayin, Necdet Yasar and Kani Karaca, and performed with them in Turkey and around the world. Studying the techniques of masters of Ottoman music like Bekir Sitki Sezgin, and Meral Ugurlu, Ahmet learned the classical singing style.
With his father, he also analyzed the old LP recordings of Hafiz Sami, Hafiz Kemal, Hafiz Osman, Izak Al Gazi, Sadettin Kaynak, Hafiz Mecid and others, learning their voice and singing techniques in forms such as classical songs, gazel, kaside, and mevlid. From these great masters Ahmet learned the ways in which poetry is matched to the music so that the literary substance and the musical composition are equally represented when performing vocal improvisation. Ahmet also studied and performs Sufi musical repertoire that over centuries integrated spiritual practice and artistic expression. Those include the naat in Mevlevi ayins (known as ‘whirling dervish’ ceremony), as well as ilahi (hymns) and kaside (improvisation on religious poetry), as essential components of the Sufi zikir (remembrance ceremony).
Ahmet Erdogdular participated in various festivals in Europe, Asia and the United States performing both Ottoman classical and Sufi music. As a member of Lalezar Ensemble he performed in concerts and recorded a four CD Anthology of Ottoman Music in the United States. He performed as a soloist with The Necdet Yasar Ensemble in France, as well as with Kani Karaca in Japan, Niyazi Sayin in Austria and Kudsi Erguner in France, Morocco, Greece, and Italy.
Ahmet worked at the Turkish Radio as soloist, recorded a number of TV music program series, and is frequently featured in TRT television music programs.
Fuat Saka had his first music education from his father who played tanbur. He later had education in arts (painting) in Istanbul, Turkey, music in France, and Germany.
Besides scoring for theaters and films, he gave many solo concerts and made arrangements for Turkish and international artists.
The artist also composed the music of Karadeniz (Black Sea) part of the “Sultans of Dance” show who gained lot of attention.
Fuat Saka has made 15 recordings and his new albumLazutlar III is out. Giving a large place to Karadeniz folk songs in his works, he also composed for many well-known poets of Turkey like Ahmet Arif, Enver Gökçe, Nazým Hikmet, and Orhan Veli.
His works have been recognized by the Truva Folklor Araþtýrmalarý Kurumu (Truva Folkloric Research Institute) and awarded in 2000 in music category.
During the 20 years he had lived abroad, Fuat Saka has worked with many international musicians from the countries like Germany, France, and Denmark as well as Turkey. Fuat Saka continues his music life between Istanbul – Hamburg – Paris with the International Band consisting of German, American, Georgian and Azerbaijani musicians.
Improvisations are very important in Fuat Saka’s music, which takes its foundation, rhythm and melody from Anatolia and meets the harmonic music of West.
His topics are love, longing for the beloved, longing for the homeland, and protest.
Yıkılır Zulmün Son Kaleleri (1982) Ayrılık Türküsü (1983) Kerem Gibi (1984) Sevdalı Türküler Poems of Nazım Hikmet) (1987) Nebengleis Kenardaki Ray) (1988) Askaros (1989) Semahlar ve Deyişler (1991) Şiirce (1993) Torik Baliklar Ülkesinde (1994) Arhavili İsmail (1996) Lazutlar (1997) Sen (1998) Lazutlar II (2000) Perçem Perçem (2001) Lazutlar III (2002) Lazutlar Livera (2004) Lazutlar Seçmeler) (2005) Bir Sürgünün Not Defteri (2006) Fuat Saka Koleksiyon 3 CD) (2006) Lazutlar 2008 (2008) Nenni (2012)
Derya Turkan was born in 1973 in Istanbul. He graduated from the Turkish State Conservatory of Istanbul, in 1994. By the age of 17, his accomplishment on the kemenche brought an invitation to join the Necdet Yasar Ensemble, with whom he performed and toured for eight years.
In 1991, Türkan met Kudsi Ergüner with whom he worked on several projects (Ottomania, Ottoman Drums, La Banda Allaturca, Chemins) and toured throughout the world, including Europe, the United States, Japan, Israel, Tunisia, and Sudan.
In the United States of America, he gave concerts and seminars at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California at Santa Cruz and New England Conservatory.
In 1997, he performed at the Sorbonne for the celebration of Yehudi Menuhin’s 80th birthday organized by French President Jacques Chirac.
He was a co-founder of Incesaz.
In 2014 he released Silk Moon, recorded with Renaud García-Fons. (CD, Album).
Yeni Turku was formed in 1978 in Ankara. Their music combines traditional and ethnic songs that appeal to all generations, making old songs new. It is based on combining the sound of modern musical instruments with an emphasis on the classic Turkish instruments, which have a broad range of frequency, and Turkish melodies, uniting Anatolian and Byzantine cultures.
Yeni Turku’s first album Bugday’in Turkusu was released in 1979. In 1983, incorporating inspirations of the Aegean and Mediterranean regions, they released their next album Akdeniz Akdeniz including songs that are still favorites to this day. With the release of Gunebakan, Yeni Turku began to emphasize traditional and classical Turkish instruments such as the ud, baglama, kemenche, and kanun. The group continued using the same style for their next album Dunyanin Kapilari, released in 1987.
In 1988, the release of Yesilmisik brought Yeni Turku’s fame to a new level. Concert tours in Turkey, as well as in Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and England followed.
In 1990, Yeni Turku released Vira Vira followed by Rumeli Konseri.
Yeniden, released in 1992, showed the level of maturity the group had reached. The same album caused a stir in the public with the inclusion of Rembetiko music. The song “Yedikule” won numerous awards as Best Song and Best Music Video.
Kulhani Sarkilar, released in 1994, was an anthology collection of Rembetiko music. In 1996 they released Her Dem Yeni/Yeni Turku, a “best of” collection, and in 1999 their album Yeni met huge success.
Buğdayın Türküsü (1979) Akdeniz Akdeniz (1983) Film Müzikleri (1983) Çekirdek Sanat Evi Resitali (1984) Günebakan (1986) Dünyanın Kapıları (1987) Yeşilmişik (1988) Vira Vira (1990) Rumeli Konseri (1991) Aşk Yeniden (1992) Külhani Şarkılar (1994) Süper Baba – Film Müzikleri (1995) Telli Telli, remixes (1996) tr:Her Dem Yeni (1996) Yeni (1999) Koleksiyon (2003) Koleksiyon 2 (2004) Koleksiyon 3 (2006) Koleksiyon 4 (2008) Şimdi ve Sonra (2012)
Vardan Hovanissian & Emre Gültekin recently released Karin, an album that reached number 1 on the January 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart. Emre Gültekin discussed his musical background and Karin with World Music Central.
How did Vardan Hovanissian & Emre Gültekin meet?
One of the first meetings was when we were looking in Brussels for a duduk player for a recording. It was an album project with my father Lutfu Gultekin…So he came, we met and recorded; it was wonderful.
At that time, I was studying sound
engineering and there was a class named “soundscape” or something
like that. One of our exercises was to put a poem in sound without using
I was often the first student to present my works because we had a home studio in our house.
So I presented the work which was a
poem of Nazim Hikmet and asked Vardan to play duduk.
So the Poem (20th century) was
presented with just a voice and duduk in front of the class and the
A lot of students were laughing, etc…Then the teacher said ‘Ok! You forgot the main instruction for this work (no music) but your work touched me so much that I will give you 18/20 and if you correct this part by doing this, I will make it 19/20.’
I answered something like “I am ok with 18/20”. After that it was obvious that we would keep in touch through music.
What attracted a Belgian with Turkish roots and an Armenian to collaborate?
There is no point for us not to collaborate because of so many common things from food to music.
For me, the “modern Turkish
identity” they wanted to create doesn’t mean so much or it is not
relevant. Turkey is a mosaic of more than 40 ethnic groups with several
languages, which includes Kurdish, Aramaic, Pontos Greek, Armenian, Laz… so much!
Unfortunately, a lot of blood and
tragedies accompany their stories.
As in Europe with Bretons, or all
the “little communities” which are actually so big for me as the
Baul, in India for giving just one example…Sorry for my English.
For Vardan and me particularly, the music is the common language we want to express our feelings… and I think in this attempt the goal is quite appreciated for that we are so grateful to our respective masters… you have some interviews where their names are noted.
For me, Lutfu Gultekin, my father
then so lot of so nice musicians. Specially and first from Turkey (one of my
main roots), Talip Özkan, Mustafa Karaçeper, Neşet Ertaş, Muharrem Ertaş,
Tamburi Cemil Bey, Cengiz Özkan, Engin Arslan, Ertan Tekin.
I want to apologize because there are so many.
Then also here in Europe or India or
Africa, America, Far East, Middle-East.
Actually, Muziekpublique based in Brussels or De Centrale based in Gent can give a good idea about the diversity of musical cultures we exchange in Belgium.
My second root is related with Belgium, where I was born.
So it means through Brussels more
than 170 countries… so much diversity who can give so much perspective in the
way of musical exchange creations, etc.
At the end, the world is like a
Very soon, I hope we can effectively
understand the absurdity in so much ideas like borders, papers. Music has to
remember that as an artistic point of view of life.
Then there is no point of defining music by “nationality” which is also nonsense. Of course, territorial geographical particularities is relevant. Sometimes even between two neighboring village stylistic differences exist…Particularly for Armenian and Turkish folk music we can say that there is a so large common background through the centuries of living together than we can hope to collaborate with Vardan all our life. As long as breathe, we will perform!
What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?
Soul and spirit…feelings…fluidity… all
our respective lives in a way… get in our music our hopes to transmit all of
this through our music
Whom can you cite as your main musical influences?
I already mentioned some earlier, my
father Lutfu Gultekin, and a lot of his colleagues or friends, Talip Özkan,
Mustafa Karaçeper, and a lot more.
Recently I met after 20 years Aynur,
for a Kurdish folk project. Through the platform muziekpublique I get the
chance to meet a lot of musicians from “world music.” I dislike this
categorization of music. A big mistake;-) the categorization.
Vardan has also his own masters (I don’t have the names in memory but you can find through muziekpublique.be His roots related to Armenia so old and deep traditions…so the sound of duduk is printed by all of this…
Tell us about your previous album Adana and your musical evolution.
Adana is before all the idea to
combine some examples from Armenian and Turkish musical cultures. Through this
friendship we developed with Vardan. Musically it is a mix I made as I am sound
engineer…One of the rules I learned through years it is: less rules or
indication or scores…to the musicians…
Just feelings… even the musician cannot
understand the deep roots the expression he is giving to the music my role is
to catch them and then put together.
And for this process I am so
grateful to people with ears so fined tuned as my father Lutfu Gultekin, Cengiz
Özkan, Talip Özkan…and many others.
The ear is our main tool; as musician or sound engineer which has to be in fusion (the two functions) if we want to give a chance to the music…to be heard. Music coming first and before sound engineering (modern way to broadcast “diffuser.”
After Adana and in parallel a lot of
There is no impossibility in music
if you are open mind and if you want to share and find a common way. So it is a
permanent journey. These are some of the projects: www.amusicjourney.com,
A lot of recordings we have also to share, but in this very troubled period in the way they are diffusing consuming music sometimes it is very difficult to find it. Then you give up to think about and continue to play record. Making music is our life.
You play two traditional Turkish musical instruments, the saz and the baglama. What’s the difference between the two instruments?
Saz is a generic term for all the lute
family we can find in Turkey. There is no standard format of this
instrument. Each instrument maker has his signature… initially it was like
that. Today, industrial mood and process can be used. But I like
So baglama is one of the format but
in different regions it can represent different instruments.
Baglama in Aegean part (west) is a
cura in another part…More than 40 different ethnic group in Turkey;-)
Complicated a bit, but if you change
the perspective to analyze music, it becomes quite ok.
We can make music with spoon in
Greece or Turkey:-)
Who makes your musical instruments?
I never bought instruments. Till
today, my father had a very good approach of restoring old saz (as wine it is
better older) and we have not this idea of mine, my instrument. Every material
things for music is shared as it has to be through music, so in that way we
Also I received some gifts from very
good masters. The instrument makers are in Turkey, Central Asia, Iran…Difficult
to find here in Europe.
Are you involved in any form of musical education?
After years of “teaching,”
you understand if you can go further that there is no point to teach, and maybe
we have more to call it sharing…
Also as “teacher,” I
learned a lot because new things generally can come also from
“students” if the “teacher” is attentive.
So in that way I was involved a lot
but neither in academy or conservatory where they cannot teach the spirit of
the saz…Some cultural association.
The masters as considered like were
never in institutions or conservatory or academy. Some have opened their own
school and sometimes they also the same impact as institutions for music…
they empty the music from its own soul or spirit.
That is one of the thing I heard
from Talip Özkan and then I experiment in my own musical trip.
So it is continuing like that…Some
young people interested they can follow you, then it will depend of their own
intention, to be or not actor in musical developments. And how… a lot of
questions of course.
If you could gather any additional musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?
There is no impossibility. We
can make music with anyone who is close to our feelings. You cannot cheat in
music. In that way if the person is sincerely involved to share and express
something which is above us, the music, then this one can emerge.
For Adana and Karin it is with
double bass percussion and a lot of other instruments. For Karin we invited
also a lot of guest: Iranian, Kurdish, Georgian, French, Belgian, and Indian.
Do you have any other upcoming projects to share with us?
Baul meets saz (Indian Baul); Aynur Kurdish; Osuna Trio Silk Road folk; Gultekinler (kalan music); Guo Gan “lune de jade.” And so much more in hard drives 🙂 Easy to get info through internet…
Chansons Pour La Fin D’un Jour (Homerecords.be, 2011) L’exil, Refuge Du Barde, with Lütfü Gültekin (Homerecords.be, 2013) Adana, with Vardan Hovanissian (Muziekpublique, 2015) Lune De Jade, with Guo Gan (Homerecords.be, 2016) Karin (Muziekpublique, 2018)
The album Karin (Muziekpublique) by duduk player Vardan Hovanissian (Armenia) and saz virtuoso Emre Gültek (Belgium, with roots in Turkey) is the number one recording in January 2019 on the Transglobal World Music Chart.
“Karin” is the ancient Armenian name for the town of Erzurum, situated in what is now Turkey. It is the birthplace of Vardan Hovanissian’s grandfather, who was one of 200 survivors following the deportation of around 40,000 residents during the Armenian genocide. The recording is a tribute to the cosmopolitan period in Karin, which was a crossroads for the different cultures that existed along the Silk Road.
The top 10:
Vardan Hovanissian and Emre Gültek – Karin – Muziekpublique
Multi-instrumentalist, composer, vocalist, author and ethnomusicologist Ozan Aksoy was born in Turkey and currently lives in New York. As a young boy, growing up in Turkey, he first learned to play the saz (lute) from his father, and soon established an extraordinary scope as a multi-instrumentalist. He became proficient in many of the string, woodwind, and percussive instruments of the region, including saz, oud, ney, and various drums.
Ozan acquired a passion for the music of ethnic and religious minorities in his country including the Kurds, Armenians, Laz, and Alevi, among others.
Afterwards, in college, as an early member of the critically-acclaimed ensemble Kardeş Türküler (meaning Ballads of Solidarity), Ozan and his colleagues performed the songs of these unrecognized and suppressed peoples, pushing the boundaries of inclusion in Turkey.
During his time with Kardeş Türküler, the group released four albums and toured extensively throughout Europe, spreading their message of diversity and acceptance.
Ozan subsequently relocated to the United States to complete a doctorate in ethnomusicology and further develop his multicultural repertoire.
In 2018 he released his long-awaited first solo album, Ozan, with lyrics in Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian. Ozan performed most of the instruments and vocals on the album himself, although Ozan also features collaborations with acclaimed musicians, including Jeremy Brown, Ani Kalayjian, Richard Miller, and Shyam Nepali among others.
Ozan Aksoy has performed with various ensembles, including Columbia Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, CUNY Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, Ozan Aksoy Trio, Nour and Kardeş Türküler.
With Kardeş Türküler:
Kardeş Türküler (Kalan Müzik, 1997) Doğu – The East (Kalan Müzik, 1999)
Roj û Heyv (Kalan Müzik, 2000) Hemâvâz (Kalan Müzik, 2002)
For the most part we humans like knowing what to expect. We prefer the predictable. We like the safe. We want what we want when we want it. That’s an impossible order when faced with the veritable avalanche of world music out there. I have to admit that I occasionally feel like the well-meaning parent standing with hands on hips over the obstinate child facing an unknown vegetable asking, “How do you know you won’t like it? Have you tried it?”
To brag a bit, I think that the standard World Music Central follower is smarter than the average bear. We have followers who want to know when their favorite Cuban is coming to town, or what’s the latest in music from Mali, or perhaps visit to learn a bit about the heavy hitters in Indian classical music. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop my incessant need to get you readers to try something new and exciting. It’s a good thing I don’t know where you live because I’m fairly certain I would be sitting on your bed in the middle of the night shoving a set of headphones at you and forcing you to listen to track 4 because it’s amazing.
Well, here we are again. So, be good, open wide and take a sip of Turkey’s singer, songwriter, producer and audio/visual conceptionalist Gaye Su Akyol’s Istikrarli Hayal Hakikattir. You’ll like it.
Translated the title Istikrarli Hayal Hakikattir means Consistent Fantasy is Reality. Ms. Su Akyol says of the recording, “In terms of its philosophy, lyrics, music and motto, this album is the dream of pure freedom, of showing the courage to be yourself, of looking at the culture I was born into without alienation, a ‘dreaming practice’ propounded into a country and world that is increasingly turning inward and becoming a concervatized prison.”
Following up on previous recordings Hologram Imparatorlugu and Develerle Yasiyorum, Ms. Su Akyol’s latest hits the streets November 1st on the Glitterbeat label. Beyond her own vocals, playing percussion and adding electronics, Ms. Su Akyol is joined by co-producer, electric and acoustic guitarist Ali Guclu Simsek; bassist, acoustic guitarist and keyboardist Gorkem Karabudak; drummer Ediz Hafizoglu, saxophonist Ihan Ersahin, classical guitarist Barlas Tan Ozemek; violinist, oud, electro saz and cumbush player Ahmet Ayzit, percussionist Ismail Darici and trumpeter Oguz Bilgin.
Istikrarli Hayal Hakikattir is edgy, moody and wholly satisfying. It’s deliciously exotic, stunningly kickass and delectably dense. Melding the sinuous lines of Turkish classical musical traditions with the sharp edges of Anatolian rock and Western rock turns Istikrarli Hayal Hakikattir into something fresh and extraordinary.
Ms. Su Akyol explains, “Musically the album combines influences from the Anatolian pop/Anatolian rock genre that emerged in Turkey during the ‘60s and the ‘70s with Turkish classical music scales and vocal aesthetics, and various subgenres of rock (psychedelic, post-punk, surf) bringing together strong ballads, Turkish folk tunes, the conventional guitar-bass-drums trio with percussion, joined by violin, oud, cumbush, and – as new additions that the previous albums did not have – baglama (Turkish native instrument), all together making up a very rich instrumental palette.”
Opening with some electronica “İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir” takes on weight with Ms. Su Akyol’s vocals, throaty guitar lines and satisfying bass and percussion. It comes across as a fresh take on the Turkish brand of rock, replete with male vocals to round out the sound.
If you don’t simply fall for Ms. Su Akyol’s right out on the sultry “Bağrımızda Taş,” there’s plenty to wrap your musical soul around like ramped up surf feel of “Laziko” or the subterranean goodness of “Gölgenle Bir Başıma” or the brass, electronica and guitar laced gritty powerhouse “Meftunum Sana.”
There’s also goodies like “Şahmeran,” “Bir Yaralı Kuştum” and the intensely lush closing track “Halimiz İtten.”
Try Istikrarli Hayal Hakikattir, you’ll like it. Don’t make me come to your house.
This multitalented seven-member ensemble presents an ancient rhythmic musical blend of Turkish, Persian, Chinese, Russian and Hebrew sounds. It includes Allo Alaev’s two sons, Ariel and Amin, and his grandchildren Zvika, Allen, Amir and the youngest, nine-year-old Aviva. The Alaev family’s repertoire features unique adaptations of inherited ancient Tajikistani songs and Jewish Buchharian compositions.
Allo Alaev was born in Samarkand, in 1932, a major station on the Silk Road. Samarkand stands at an ancient cultural crossroad and its music is a blend of Turkish, Persian, Chinese and Russian.
Allo’s father, Nisan, was an acclaimed singer and his mother, Adino, was considered the most brilliant doyra (frame drum) artist in the whole region of Samarcande. Alaev took up the doyra at an early age, made rapid progress and was soon appointed the first percussionist of the folk Opera Company of the Tajikistan capital Dushanbe.
During the 1960s and 70s he toured Europe, the far East and Africa as a member of several Soviet folk troupes. He received numerous international prizes for his performance. In 1991 the Alaev family immigrated to Israel and made an immediate impact on the local music scene.
Allo accomplished what so many artist wish: to continue the tradition in the family. Three generations perform together on stage and create an intimate and happy feast of music. The presence of the younger generation connect the traditional to the mainstream musical world.
Today, the multitalented ensemble includes Allo Alaev’s two sons, Ariel and Amin and his grandchildren Zvika, Allen, Amir and Aviva.
The Alaev family include in their repertory ancient Tajikistani songs and Jewish Buchharian compositions passed on in generations and now performed with their own unique adaptions.