Kassav' - Nou La (2000)

«The story of Kassav’ (the name comes from cassava, which is a mixture of manioc paste and coconut) began in 1979 when Pierre-Edouard Décimus, a member of a dance orchestra since the sixties, decided to revamp and modernize the music he had always played along with Freddy Marshall, another musician from the Antilles. They adored popular carnival music, and so Decimus tried to adapt it to modern musical techniques. They also recruited Jacob Desvarieux, an established studio guitarist, and Georges Décimus, Pierre-Edouard’s brother, a bass guitarist, together with other studio musicians. The group built up as it went along. The first formation went in to the recording studios in the November and brought out the first Kassav’ album, entitled Love and Ka Dance, a couple of months later. A new musical genre had been conceived: Zouk. New sounds, particularly bass, keyboards and brass wind instruments, gave this music a modern, festive air, both lively and foot-tapping. This was when Kassav’ began writing the history of Zouk. […]

Released in June 2000, Nou La (short for "Nou la, nou byen la" – We're here, really here!) featured 15 tracks recorded in Toulouse and mixed in Paris. But it was clear that the songs had been written and lovingly prepared in Martinique, the group’s eternal source of inspiration.» (RFIMusique, click here for full bio)

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Baba Zula - Roots (Kökler) (2007)

«Turkey is a nation in the midst of a dramatic transition. It’s pushing forward with social and economic reforms as it pursues membership in the European Union. During the process, it’s casting an eye to the rear view mirror, pondering and situating the impact of centuries of history stretching back to its pre-Islamic, Shamanic roots on its current hybrid Islamic-secular nation state. It’s a multi-layered country that blends Eastern and Western influences into its cultural mix – a fact that’s particularly apt given its geographic location straddling Europe and Central Asia.

Baba Zula, Turkey’s most beloved alternative music purveyors, provide an ideal soundtrack for this region in flux. The Istanbul-based band combines dub and reggae influences, traditional Turkish instruments, and electronica into a truly one-of-a-kind psychedelic sound. Comprised of electric saz player and vocalist Murat Ertel, electronics and percussion maestro Levent Akman, and darbuka player Coşar Kamçi, the three-piece band creates an enormous sound bathed in myriad melodies and polyrhythms. In concert, Baba Zula is a quartet that also features the talents of Ceren Oykut, a renowned graphic artist that creates and renders projected digital images in real time.

While it is relatively unknown in the West, the saz is the foremost stringed instrument used in Turkey. With three-to-12 strings on a bouzouki-like body, it possesses a distinct, bright, and ringing high-pitched sound that’s pleasing to the ear. It’s at the core of the group’s sound and that of many other contemporary and traditional Turkish acts.

Baba Zula just released Roots, its sixth album. It’s a stripped down affair that represents the essence of the group’s trio interaction. Previous discs featured many special guests, as well as outside producers, but the band was intent on keeping things in the family for its latest outing. The album features 25 mostly short pieces that largely came out of studio improvisations, as well as three dub mixes by noted Japanese producer Naoyuki Uchida.

Listeners abroad may have been previously exposed to Baba Zula in Crossing the Bridge, a remarkable documentary by Fatih Akin now available on DVD worldwide. The film takes viewers through Istanbul's contemporary and avant-garde music scenes with a level of depth and intrigue rarely found in musical travelogues. The documentary has helped elevate Baba Zula’s international profile considerably. Don’t be surprised if they hit your local scene in the near term...» (Anil Prasad, Innerviews, click here to read the interview)

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