July 5 2013
This week was supposed to be all about Spanish music. Then Wednesday and the Fourth of July happened and here on a beautiful Friday, full from yesterday's celebratory spirit, it just felt as if the theme never got up to steam. And then the inevitable distraction and a new idea gained traction. Turkish music. And I owe a bunch of inspiration to this lil video put out by the folks at VICE.
I have been following the situation in Istanbul for a minute and have definitely think that on the day after our own celebrations of national identity it felt fitting to send a sonic shout out in solidarity to the people of Turkey as they continue to fight for their own identity. In the process, re-defining what it means to be Turkish. I love Peoples' Movements and the battle between the State apparatus and the common people over the existence of Taksim Square and the value it holds as a gathering place as well as the the State's brutal response to their sit-ins, is exactly that.
So I thought Turkish music would be just the right thing. And who better to start with than a singer whose outspoken politics and common folk sympathies exposed her to government persecution in the 80's and made her a heroine for the people and gained her respect and fame. Talking about Selda Bağcan, whose œvre repurposes folk sounds from Anatolia into something more modern and definitely rocking. Her guitar work is ofeten as impassioned as her plaintive singing style; haunting forlorn landscapes like winds over plains. Music that also carries the seeds of hip hop, having been sampled by rappers like Oh No and Yasiin Bey.
In the 11 o'clock hour, we heard music from Erkin Koray, an artist who's generally credited to be the first Turk to rock. The godfather of Turkish rock has been a part of the scene since the 50's and his Anatolian rock paved the way for a whole host of psychedelic babies who were just as beloved; like Seda Bagcan, and his politics were radical by virtue of the spirit of the times. In hippie-era Turkey he was apparently stabbed simply for having long hair, sheesh...
Okay Temiz was what I played in the noon hour, and with a name like Okay, you gotta be alright, right?! Actually he's quite dope, and a "revolutionary" in the sense of being a musical creator and player of instruments, some like the berimbau and dumbuka are more tradtional but others like the ocean phone or the magic pyramid make this cat otherworldly and interesting in the highest order.
Also played some wonderful bellydancing grooves from Mustafa Kandirali. He has been the biggest name in Turkish Gypsy music for over thirty years (and one of the first non-western musicians to tour the USA). In fact, he's musically ubiquitous in Turkey, you can hear him on TV, in the streets, in taxi cabs or on the radio within 24 hours of being there. It's like Turkish soul music; cat is a clarinet virtuoso and master of Turkish gypsy music.