08th Mar2017

Baba Zula ‘XX’ 2CD/2LP (Glitterbeat) 3/5

by ukvibe

World fusion does not come more eclectic than this new offering. In fact it is a compilation of a group from Turkey that have been in existence for twenty years and combine harder edged psycho-rock with Jamaican dub. If this musical meeting of West and East sounds appealing, then it is a left-field excursion worth investigating. The brainchild of musicians, electric saz player Osman Morat Ertel and Levent Akman, the Anatolian folk tradition has been given a thoroughly modern update here and what results is a twenty-first century sound that draws equally upon film and theatre influences.In essence, the songs contained within are re-interpretations of numbers from previous albums and are well known to Turkish natives. While it has to be stated that the Turkish component is a little difficult to fathom for someone without any prior knowledge of Turkish rock and folk, or even the language itself, with repeated listens the disparate sounds do gradually come together. Melodic vocals permeate, ‘Essential things’, which has a strong steppers beat and what sounds something like a sitar, but is in fact the electric oud. Instrumental folk-jazz and the sound of the saz come together on, ‘We fell in love with you’ (t.v. version)’.

The more reggae oriented pieces have been attracting plenty of airplay on the specialist radio channels and it certainly does have an authentic flavour, the band having worked previously with Mad Professor and Sly and Robbie, as well as with a Turkish opera singer, which gives you some idea of the eclectic approach adopted throughout this set.

This writer found the rock element a little grating in places and best sampled in small doses, but the underlying rationale is one of a greater openness towards the world and, in planet full of narrow-minded tribalism, that is an approach to life that one can fully endorse and subscribe to. Instrumental Turkish folk music is still awaiting a truly comprehensive international retrospective, but in the meantime this pioneering music should be supported.

Tim Stenhouse

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