BaBa ZuLa ‘Hayvan Gibi’ 2LP (Night Dreamer) 5/5

Hayvan Gibi is the sixth release in Night Dreamer’s successful direct-to-disc series. The ethos for these records is single-take live performances recorded with vintage equipment at Artone Studio in the Netherlands are cut straight to acetate. The series so far has featured an exciting mix of artists covering an impressive variety of musical styles and the quality has been outstanding. The musical variety of the series continues with legendary Turkish psych-rockers, BaBa ZuLa.

This is a double album recorded over a couple of days in August, 2019. Although the tunes featured have been drawn from the band’s back catalogue which now spans a couple of decades, the band has approached this project as a recorded gig. Percussionist Levant Akman says ‘The people who listened to our albums and came to our concerts sometimes told us that they couldn’t find the energy of the concerts in the albums. Every time we heard this comment it made us a bit sad. But I think that we have succeeded finally with these recordings’.

Each side of the first disc features a single quarter-hour track. It’s an exhilarating ride of heavy psych. Murat Ertel’s saz introduces “Küçük Kurbağa (Froggie)” before the band lurches into a riffy groove with a smattering of dub-reggae upbeats. This is a hard full-on fuzzed-out wah-wah showcase for Ertel’s electric saz trickery. There’s more light and shade with “Sipa Dub (The Foal Dub)”, however, the more uptempo parts really emphasise how heavy BaBa ZuLa can be when they let loose.

On the second record, the tracks are shorter and the music is more subtle but no less entertaining. “Kelebekler Kuşlar (Butterflies and Birds)” has a folky feel with the clean saz supported by oud, dabuka and spoons. Ümit Adakale’s dabuka drumming takes centre stage on “4 Nal (4 Horse Shoes)”. The catchy, charismatic but ultimately deranged “Tavus Havası (Peacock Mood)” starts side B. A tune from the very early beginnings of the band. “Çöl Aslanlarc (Desert Lions)” is a tight, extended work-out with the saz and oud melody lines energetically driven by kick drum, dabuka, spoons and cymbals.

This is another success for Night Dreamer and with releases from artists like Sarathy Korwar and Moğollar to follow, that success should continue. BaBa ZuLa’s excellent last album, Derin Derin, indicated a harder rock direction to their music and this continues here. I have been fortunate enough to go to a BaBa ZuLa gig, last year. I had a great time and agree with Murat Ertel’s assertion that ‘With this record, you can get as close as you can to a live BaBa ZuLa experience’. It may be some time before we next see BaBa ZuLa return to these shores but here’s the next best thing.

Kevin Ward

Read also:
BaBa Zula ‘Derin Derin’ LP/CD (Glitterbeat) 5/5
Baba Zula ‘XX’ 2CD/2LP (Glitterbeat) 3/5