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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