VARIOUS ARTISTS (A-M on page 1) (N-Z on page 2)


Kalan Music'Sufi müzik'ten Flamenko'ya' (from Sufi music to Flamenco)***'

There really is little difference between the mood of flamenco and Sufi music heard on the album. Both roots flow incredibly fluent in one another. It is a peaceful and very enjoyable album.
Of course there is a mutual influence between the two music forms. Southern Spanish Flamenco has an eastern element which originates from the Sufis dating back to the 12th century. In that time those two music forms were melting too.

This CD is a compilation of recordings from various concerts in Holland. These concerts were a project to bring together Sufi music from Anatolia and flamenco. A Sufi and flamenco group played together while a dancer from each group visually accompanied. The kanunplayer Tahir is also part of the group Asiaminor (see first review page for reviews and links for that group).

Catalogue entry :
Kanun player homepage :
Ada Müzik                         V.A. : "Sesimizi Yükseltiyoruz !"(1999)***°

A very nice document with lots of recent young groups who have real potential is this "Sesmizi Yükseltiyoruz !" Through this release we can only hope for an increase of that small revival of progressive music in Turkey. These groups have a hard time to survive amongst the overwhelming popular tunes and commercial beats.

About what kind of potential am I talking here about ?

I will review some of the most interesting groups on that album. Zen (Faust-like) dissapointed me somewhat at first with their not clearly constructed (purple covered) first album. At the time of hearing and reviewing this compilation I did not hear the other albums yet.  From hearing only one specific track now I still couldn't get a real grip on this group yet. But I am already convinced for several collectors this would sound interesting enough. Baba Zula is a side project of the same group. From their one short track I also couldn't make up much either, but as a first track I ever heard from the group it sounded very interesting to me : jazzy eastern folk, with electric bass and guitar. (Be reminded that on the compilation CD two tracks were actually in wrong order ; you'll notice in reading about the instruments and looking at the times indicated that two tracks are in a different order as indicated).

Necropsi has the most heavy track on the album. The track by Ihtiyaç Molasi is improvisational free folk with nice flowing violin (a bit like the Belgium Dearest Companion), very good. Siddharta were inspired by Pink Floyd. Fans of Ozric might be able to like this very good track as well. The contribution of Atlas (which is actually on track 6) I liked very much too. It as an improvisational structure and sound, combined with an undefiniable fusion style. Track 7 is the Necropsi track. It is progressive music with a relaxed heavy tension. They once released a very interesting album "Mi Kubessi". The released track here has heavy bass uploaded with rythms (Their earlier demo was called "Speed lessons part 2" and might have been pretty heavy stuff). A second influence of them is atmospheric guitar-ambient. Track 8 is by Lodos : more jazzy, with bass clarinet improvisation but with rock rythms and electric guitar. Not long enough for an opinion ; it's only based upon a certain rythm evolution. Also Sava deserves attention, although it is not progressive. He makes a combination of pop, with a good feel for rhythm samples, completed with an easy melody. It sounds interesting, but also here one track is so litlle to give good descriptions and opinions or definitions. This group says they blend house, trip hop ethnic and industrial, and the singer sung in jazzbands before.

The last tracks on the album are not so interesting for progressive music listeners : a few Turkish Hip Hop bands. Personnaly hiphop and rap still reminds me too much at the hard life were it first appeared. It keeps on expressing such aggressive environment without ever giving any possibility to create ever a nice environement or into depth caring.

The CD is one of the best starters as a compilation with an introduction to several of the most interesting new progressive music groups from Turkey.

Website of the label at E-mail at
You can hear the CD at
(click the title of this CD : "Sesimizi Yükseltiyoruz -1").
Ada MüzikV.A. : "Sular Yükseliyor" (1996)*°°

I expected much more from this sampler after I heard some tracks through the net. But only some groups stand out. D.100 have one very beautiful folk prog song with flute "Neden Neden". I wondered how the rest of their music would be. Istayon with "Yeminin Mi Var", a folkrock song with organ is ok too. Some Turkish people recommended me before Kesmeseker as one of the groups to stand out of the early nineties. I don't understand Turkish, but when I listened to their music I can say it only had a direction towards good music, but it still isn't particularly very special for an interest in real progressive music. Kumdan Kaleler's folkpoprock song "Evde Ardinda" is made with good taste, but also here I wished I could have understood the words , because they still seemed important. So beside the D.100 track, only Sevket Akinci's folk song "Sonbahar Kaçagi" speaks to my heart and interest without having to understand the language.

You can hear this sampler at :
and will find it also at

This is a review of the earlier compilation from the same label :
Double Moon Records    V.A. : East 2 West -Global Departures from Istanbul, Flight 001- (2002)***°

A very good compilation and a pleasure to listen to because all tracks melt perfectly together. Secondly it's an overview from the best selected tracks of the label's 13 releases so far.

The style on this album varies somewhat from various jazz fusion styles to blending oriental hip-hop, and a bit oriental blending modern pop at the crossroad of styles. Where the American hip-hop is reactive and has more foundations of of a more primitive nature, the few examples of hip-hop on this album are rather pleasant and worked out with detail : Aziza A, with "Hayat" . In fact it can still be said about the Sultana track ("Kusu Kalkmaz") from whom a banned video is included on the CD. This video reminds me at some MTV video's (take even Madonna) I saw before, so I've no clue why it was banned.
Mercan Dede (see review of his full album on next page) opens the cd with a great Sufi Fusion track, called "Vefaname". Brooklyn Funk Essentials featuring Laço Tayfa with "By and Bye" is moody souljazz-pop. Also Wax Poetic brings a kind of moody soul-pop kind of music with "Angels". The chosen funky track by Orientation with the "Bosphorus Bridge theme" and the tastful fusion-pop track of Burnhan Öçal and Jamaladeen Tacuma with Natacha Atlas (Groove ala Turca) called "Habibi" (see review of their full album on these review pages) are very representable choices to be included too. Baba Zula's  track "Anam" with Turkish rhythms and jazzy bass (and female orgasmic noises) follows a more erotic groove. (See review of their full album on next page). Craig Harris & The Nation of Imagination with Barbaros Erköse with very American sounding female jazz-soul voice, Turkish rhythms, free brass, drums, double bass and their track "Dijiribludu" is pretty warm music too, and proves again "fusion" in Istanbul is pretty alive. Ilhan Ershahin's "jungle" is mostly in American styled jazz, with a hip-hop like Negro voice. Interesting mostly for Ilhan Ersahin's nice sax play. Aydin Esen (with "Essence") is in a more mainstream Jazz Fusion style. The chosen track from Istanbul Blues Kumpanyasi ("Sair Zamanlar") is also a good track, but does not describe not yet all possibilities in blending styles the group was able too on their album, but gives of course already some idea. This is a kind of psychedelic blues jazz crossover, instrumentally most different from the rest of the album. Last track is the slightly gypsy ? sounding ethno jazz fusion from Laço Tayfa (with "Bergama Gaydasi").

The compilation is recommended to all of you searching mostly for the blend between oriental styles and jazz fusion.

Label : E-mail :
distributed in France, Spain, Poland, Holland, Belgium, Istrael, Greece, Japan
Double Moon RecordsV.A. : East 2 West -Ethno-electronic Tales from Istanbul- (2005)***°

We’re 3 years further on since the latest compilation of the fine Double Moon records label. In the meanwhile some of the music received wider recognition, and some tracks also founds its way through some other compilations. No wonder some of the music listed here has found its way elsewhere too, like the very good “Oriental Wind” track from Ilhan Ersahin’s Wonderland, a perfect combination of acid jazz and modern electronica mixing with Anatolian music. In general this is a perfect compilation of new dance driven music with Anatolian character. It is as if once the bridge is crossed, the Anatolian rhythms-of-life adapt just anything and bring it to a new ethnical form, of modern dance music, with multi-spaced modern mixes. Many Turkish musicians involved have worked in and with people from the New York / Berlin / Montreal / Paris / London scene to create this typical newly formed 'beyogli beat', with ethnical, modern dance and some Fusion elements all at once. Doublemoon is part of a musical company called Pozitif promoting these kinds of combinations. So on this compilation also are listed some musicians from related other labels like Nublu –with 2 tracks-, Akatay Project, Sultan Tunç, and Harem III.

A perfectly enjoyable compilation of new Turkish city-dance music which adapted folk, electronica or modern mixing techniques, some Jazz Fusion and a few genres beyond and around this.

Audio : Ilhan Ersahin's Wonderland : "Oriental Wind", Nublu : "Why This ?", Orient Expressions : "Dera Sor", Baba Zula with Mad Professor : "Biz Size Asik olduk (dub mix)", Akatay Project : "Latino" (Remix by Mercan Dede), Sultan Tunç : "Deliloy", Laço Tayfa with Athena : "Erkilet Güzeli (Remix by Mercan Dede)", Nublu : "Sooth Me", Mercan Dede : "Nar-i Seher (radio edit)", Harem : "Virtual Voices", Burjan Öçal & The Trakya All Stars with Samdj : "Tekirdag Karsilamasi", Baba Zula & Mad Professor : "Kisaltmalar (dub mix)
Info with audio :
Positif Music Company :
Soulstar Rec.V.A. : Made in Turkey -the World of Turkish grooves- (TÜ,2004)**°°

I understand, from other releases, that the Soulstar label compiler for Turkish music who was living in Germany, was especially interested in club house influences. So with some caution, but renewed curiosity when I saw the track list, I was interested to hear this double CD, with one CD of more “relaxed tracks” (called “Mondo Ala Turca”) and one dance orientated CD (called “Bosporus Express”). The press notes say that there lives a wide variety of people in Turkey (like Kurds, Arabs, Cherkessian, Georgians, Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Bosnians, Albanians, Laz people, Chechens, Bulgarians, Tartars, etc) or many different cultures which all bring their share to the Turkish identity. The selection, according to the label, contains “smooth R’n’B, Drum’n’Bass, traditional folk, Mediterranean rhythms, Sufi sounds, party grooves & club-beats, fusions like Arabesque, Turkish fado, evergreens, jazzy moments, oriental hiphop, folk-revival in a pop outfit and so on.” It includes some hits from so called established stars (Sezen Aksu, Adja Pekkan, Erkin Koray, ..), plus a few new groups, but also an authentic Turkish tango from Ibrahim Özgür, and a folk-tune from Asik Veysel.

The first CD is a very good, well mixed, compilation of various examples that show different approaches to Turkish music, especially interesting for a mainstream audience. It shows a variety of mixes of Turkish folk with Pop, fusion or with modern beats, within a Folk, Pop and Fusion context.

Burhan Öçal with his Istanbul Orient Ensemble is a very good introduction to more traditional Turkish music. This is mixed perfectly into a more modern approach of this tradition by Ilhan Ersahin (with guest singer Dilara Sakipinar). Omar Faruk Tekbilek & Steve Shehan is a nice example of the Arabesque way of singing, accompanied by a modern groovy and smooth bass with traditional percussion and orchestra, and with some modern keyboards in the mixing. Gate Eight in the same mode, is more like fusion jazz, mixed with some club beats, first starting with an Arabesque voice, then evolving to a more club groove track with some spoken word, using at that moment all earlier elements only as samples to benefit the smooth dance structure. It becomes western pop but, fits with common European tastes. Sertab Erener after that is a beautiful folkpop voice. At first she's accompanied by guitar, then by a whole Pop group, in a more mainstream approach which is pretty enjoyable. (-I still wonder whether her voice wouldn't come out even better or at least differently with more minimal acoustic accompaniment or a very different musical approach ?). This is followed by a filmic more ethnofolk inspired modern pop, which is a technically attractively mixed track by Nil Karaibrahimgil. After that we hear Sezen Aksu, a voice who seems to have been in the business since the 70’s. Her track is mainstream Turkish pop, and has, technically, a very interesting mix, making it once more very attractive popmusic (with varied mixed rhythms, and through funky elements, with elements of flute and bass). Also Nilüfer Akbal is another similar example of Arabesque Pop using at least some element of oud with the modern pop mix, a combination which works well, but which is still used specifically to serve the pop song. Porque Son Turkos probably is I think the example of the Turkish Fado ; it is mixed with modern popbeats. The only track which I find very different from the rest comes from Arto Tunçboyan & Ara Dinkjian. I have no idea where they get their ethnic inspirations or elements because for me it sounds more like African or Caribbean pop or so ??, a track which for me breaks the middle eastern mood which was commonly present. This is compensated by the track of Sümeyra, a beautiful more traditional Turkish song, not sure in which specific style, and accompanied by saz. Also Mercan Dede, the famous Sufi DJ, is listed with a track, played with ney, saz, spacey modern rhythms, with guest female singer Sabahat Akkiraz. This is followed by the famous jazz drummer Okay Temiz with his Magnetic Band. It’s one of his more traditional features, and a nice calm moment of reflection. After that we hear Ali Ekber Cicek, with voice and amplified baglama. He’s an interpreter of traditional Sufi music, and performs this with his specific voice in a rather bluesy folk way. Orient Expressions by singer Aynur Dogan is another example of the oriental trance groove side, not with too many ideas over the length of the track, but very atmospheric on the background for a chill-out mode. Asik Veysel is again a bit different. His track has elements of 80’s pop (like sequenced electronic bass). It does not have much of that Ottoman flavour, making me wonder why this specific mainstream electronicapop is listed here as another example. Ottoman jazz pioneer Kudsi Erguner (-I believe he made a crossover between Arab Sufi music mixed with jazz-) with singer Halil Necipoglu starts with an electric guitar improvisation in Middle eastern tuning, and then continues in a perfect Middle Eastern crossover Fusion. Here the basically Turkish Music sounds as much like jazz to me, which surely is original. (I'll check him out later). Multicultural band Sarband’s “Rondo alla Turca” gives an interpretation of this Mozart tune, a more convincing than ever interpretation, because it shows the Turkish origin of its inspiration very well. A good closer of the first CD is an old Turkish tango, -which is the first Western style to be adapted back in the 30’s-, here with a typical “old times” singing (is this the "evergreen" ?), by the earlier mentioned Ibrahim Özgur.

This first CD compilation is done very well, and it gives various ideas and well chosen examples of the Turkish scene in the media of today. Even in mainstream pop it chose attractive examples. The compilation surely is perfect in its intentions. Personally only Arto Tunçboyan & Ara Dinkjian and Kudsi Erguner weren't for me that much necessary, because the first group confuses me and the last one misses enough typical Turkish elements to me to give it the typical charm which in general much of the Turkish music has here, even there where it goes already towards mainstream directions.

The second CD contains of course the more rhythmically driven music.

These rhythms in Turkish popmusic”, Okay Temiz once complained to me, “are only there to serve the song." He also complained there wasn't too much real singing or musical ideas. He told me people are so used in focusing on vocalized leads in music, that one day, when he had delivered a tape to a radiostation of one of his best releases,  the guy came back to him and said : “I think there’s something wrong with your tape because the vocals seems to be left out ?”. On this CD we can hear when new focusses really work, and how it can convince and give a rewarding and satisfying result. The production elements which are used for modern Turkish pop and even in Fusion pop could be Arab-like orchestrations or various, rather complex-in-energy rhythms, as a combination of Turkish percussion mixed with drumcomputers. Most of these elements are indeed only there to serve the song, or elsewhere, -or often at the same time-, to create a dance-like rhythm for the song.

On the second track by Göksel (featuring Omega Vibes), I can imagine why this focus on the singing became so attractive for the mainstream listener. Just imagine a gypsy or even any traditional or religious or Sufi dance with an increasing energy evolution, as a foundation for a carpet ride search for inspiration, resulting in sometimes trance-like visions, when one person began to speak or sing ar the right moment of increased energy, speaking or singing about what he had seen or had peak-experienced, as the highlight of a ritual event. In a popularized culture like ours, where words began to become the final decisions on everything, I guess people in some way still remember this kind of magic or highlighting moments. In a popularized and lowered down version to a daily life vision, this focus is still imaginable in a different, normalized version. It’s just a singer who became the spokesman for the people, just like the earlier occasional shaman-of-the-moment. But now this singer often just tells whatever people wants to hear. It became a confirmation of what is known in daily culture. There the orchestration elements, and the rhythms are just there to celebrate the best moments of this daily life. Most Turkish people, I think, prefer to have a good business, and to have nice conversations in a warm contact with friends. Not many other things matter. Music that reflects this aspect must have some joy in it.
The third track of Rebel Moves has these kind of complex rhythms that one can hardly neglect, in considering as being joyful. They’re enriched with brass and orchestrations and a gathered singing together, in a pretty fast rhythmic surrounding, giving the listener the feeling as if a lot (of joy) is expressed.
Harem IV’s “La Passion Turca” has a more simple 4/4 electronic beat, mixed with Turkish percussion. All the groovy elements for it are typical Turkish, including the use of saz. Again a good example of how attractive the Turkish music essence can be.
Also Erkin Koray’s “Fesupanallah” fits well with this whole new Turkish rhythmically flavoured scene. It has complex acoustic rhythms, bass, electric fuzz guitar, orchestrations and arrangements. Of course it’s different from his earlier work, but I still like this very much.
Funda Arar’s track with a rather rock backing band with orchestrations and Turkish percussion is a more “tough” Arabesque poprock track.
This is followed by a weird Turkish mix of Turkish reggae (!) with Latin hiphop pop by Ayhan Sicimoglu & Istanbul Latin Ensemble, a unique mix I never heard before, and probably will not hear again. I seriously think it’s a perfect commercial idea for MTV or so. They should go for that international appeal, because it could be a different entry for people to become open to Turkish elements.
Burak Aziz's pop track with complex rhythms and orchestrations also has the earlier mentioned “attractive” form. I knew there was going to be at least one rap/hiphop track on it too (-I usually keep myself as far as I can away for various reasons from hiphop-). But I must say also this somewhat varied spoken-but-almost-sung track by Ragga Oktay has the same kind of attractiveness in rhythms and arrangements, quickly changing and very dynamic, and with the use of traditional elements amongst electronic beats. This is mixed in into a track by Fuat Saka, called “rapatma4” using the Turkish mode almost as a rap, making it almost psychedelic or ritualistic or something like that. It has really nothing of the mach arrogant kind of rap, and sounds even more like Indian psychedelic pop or something, with bass, percussion, and violin.
Altay’s contribution is more like Turkish techno with all the traditional elements still in it.
This is followed by Ümit Sayin with some techno remix. It is a much more mainstream pop song than anything from before ; -I think it does not have the same level of international focusing, so I can’t imagine a similar interest for this one for outside of Turkey-.
The track by Kiraç after this, has a more hardrock-and-metal fundament, mixed with the Turkish orchestrated folk sound, with a poprock voice lead for the song. It’s nice to see that even here, no Turkish elements are neglected because they make the music interesting.
The track after that, by the Brooklyn Funk, starting as funky reggae-pop, has nice Turkish arrangements by Laco Tayfa, which makes this track again unusual.
Ciguli’s track after that, is joyful electronica-pop. It is in fact completely based upon traditional elements in rhythm, singing, and for the instrumental passages.
Turkish Delight brings on their track traditional Turkish music with additional modern beats, well mix
ed. I also understand why the track by Nilgül is submitted, because it’s a modern pop version of a popular traditional song, using the elements of Turkish music instruments, but also guitars, drums and Turkish percussion instruments. Never the less for me, it is Erkin's, Edip’s and Selda’s versions in the 70’s, hard folkrock versions which still are my own favourites of this song. The last two tracks appeal less to me.
On Özlem Yilmaz’s track, a somewhat child-like voice, with accompaniment by saz, Turkish percussion, drum computer, the Turkish instrumental part is a bit too minimal, loop-like, that for me it doesn't show anything more interesting than a typical mainstream Arabesque Pop song.
Also last track, by Makale, a more childish traditional, I don’t find becoming much more interesting with the extra modern beats, but it's a good try.

The compilation of both CD's of this double set is done very well. It is enjoyable both for daily listening and fordance occaisions. It gives some clues of what music is made and is popular in Turkey. In general the right tracks have been chosen for a public outside Turkey... What is not listed here is the very small psychedelic and progressive scene, or some of the very small left-over jazz scene, but perhaps this realy is a different chapter and a very different kind of angle. These groups have the hardest time to survive because there is little interest inside Turkey. Hopefully one day there also is room left for them.

Label : with info on this release here

Dutch review I made for Ruis magazine :

"Dit Duits label bracht het voor elkaar om niet alleen in de Turkse jazzfusie heel wat aantrekkelijke voorbeelden te vinden van moderne beats met traditionele elementen, maar zelfs in de mainstream pop, en daarbuiten. Psychedelica is er niet bij, wordt waarschijnlijk argwanend bekekenen, maar toch is deze dubbel-CD (1 luister en 1 dance cd) een goede compilatie."
Colors Music V.A. : Ottomanic (2004,TÜ/IS/EG/IRQ/IR/')****

This compilation done by (United) Colors Magazine intends and succeeds to give an overview of important contemporary musicians using tradition in a new modern form, or into a form that at least sounds pretty modern to our updated standards.

Burhan Öçal is one of the better renewers of tradition with complex modern art-beats. There’s a track of him listed, called "Tekirdag Kars Ilamasi" (audio) with the Tracky All Stars (-a simple melody with a complex rhythmical mix-). Baba Zula always used modern art-electronica mixed with Ottoman origin ("Su Daglari Sardi Feryadim"/audio). Mercan Dede Secret Tribe as Sufi DJ also has his own vision. On his track he mixes some Indian beats, and some drone, while his music group plays ney, santur, electric violin and electric guitar, and other instruments over it. Sultana, also listed, is one of the best examples of female oriental hiphop, much more interesting if you ask me, compared to the outcast rebel macho rap style most people are already confronted with. Kudsi Erguner developed Jazzfusion out of traditional Sufi-music. There’s a fine track by  him added, called "Sarki". From outside Turkey there is Bustan Abraham, which is a Middle Eastern (Fusion) group from Israel with both Jewish and Arab musicians, with a track in Ottoman style called "Igrig" (audio). From Egypt there we have two examples. The track by Karim Nayt & Fathy Salama’s with female Arab voice, "Noura", is Ottoman styled modern bellydance. The other track, from Soliman Gamil sounds remarkablely modern in dynamism, although it’s only a brilliant playing on oud and tabla, called "Sufi Dialogue". It proves that such music, when played in optimal conditions, doesn’t need anything extra, and becomes something timeless. Also Ahmed Mukhtar & Sattar Al-Saadi from Iraq prove with just oud and complex rhythms, Middle Eastern music truly is able to sound modern and dynamic even without needing any 'new' element ("Raqsat Albedoi"). From Iran is listed Mohammad Reza Shajarain & Kayhan Kalhor, with a slightly Persian styled Ottoman track. Last but not least also a previously unreleased track by Muslimgauze is added. It was a group which often confused me. Here they list themselves as being from the UK and Palestine though I think the last country of origin might be more of a political statement. While some of their music sounds pretty experimental this is a loop-based DJ mix of Middle Eastern sounds ("Gold Sutra"/audio).

Conclusion : this is one of the best compilations of Turkish music I've heard in years. Highly recommended, and a potential artefact to create Ottomania.

Info :

Dutch review I wrote for Ruis magazine :

"Colors magazine maakte met deze release een van de beste compilaties sinds lange tijd van Ottomaanse muziek. Vele tracks hebben een modern tintje en mix (beats, jazzfusie elementen). De paar meer traditionele nummers, uit Iraq en Itan klinken immers even modern en dynamisch. De meeste voorbeelden zijn uit Turkije, drie zijn nog uit Egypte. Er is ook een onuitgegeven nummer van Muslimgauze bijgevoegd, een soort van goede DJ-mix met Middenoosterse basis. Een aanrader voor een potentiële ottomanie."

Burhan Öçal, Baba Zula, Mercan Dede all have reviews on my new Turkish Music review pages
Sultana. Info :
Kudsi Erguner  info :
Yval Ron :
Karima Nayt (Egypt) :
Fathy Salama (Egypt) :
Soliman Gamil (Egypt) info :
Info :
Ahmed Mukhtar (Iraq) :
Mohamed Reza Shajarian (Iran) info :
Bustan Abraham (Israel) (various items with sound) : &
Muslimgauze (UK) :
Trikont  V.A. : Beyond Istanbul : underground grooves of Turkey (TÜ,..,2006)***°

This compilation by German based Turkish female DJ, Ipek Ipekcioglu was done to encourage especially German listeners to overcome their prejudices on Turkish modern culture, showing how much the Turkish music scene is vivid, passionate and rhythmic and an interesting source for modern crossover music meant for the dance scene. For Turkish music folk always remained a valuable fundament that nowadays is mixed vividly with almost any other element. Also new is that she has mixed Kurdish and Turkish musicians. The listed groups and musicians are partly listed for making a statement. Some of the groups have some international reputation, mostly amongst Turkish or Kurdish people but also gained interest from the foreign scene. Not all groups are based in Istanbul, but still are very related with this capital city of Turkish crossover music.

For a DJ projects and ideas like from La Mirage, a French duo consisting of Pascal Werner and Stéphane Horeau, are more than welcome, because the sample loops of Turkish orchestra and live flutes and Arabesque voice with rhythms shows some intact essence of classical Turkish music presented in a simple attractive DJ dance floor form. Sivan Perwer fought some political battles to get his Kurdish music heard, and had to live in exile (in Sweden and Germany) for some years, until just recently when his music became allowed. His music is basically traditional music mixed with singer-songwriter ideas, but is also rhythmically enjoyable, like a folk song with some for us foreigners still unclear underlying statement. (A review of one of his releases you can find here).
Cay Taylan is a Turkish musician living in Vienna, Austria. This track, like the previous DJ track is based upon folk, a Turkish folk dance, with extra effects and new rhythms, with a rather loop-like foundation, and several DJ-mixing based variations. The next track by Nil Karaibrahimgil is an example of the kind of new dance pop which usually promoted by big business based radiostations and MTV gives a complete Turkish example with oriental elements. The lyrics make fun of men, in an ironical way. Also Baba Zula is listed with a fine bellydance-rhythmic track mixed with rock, pop and traditional clarinet. It has absurd and infantile lyrics based upon abbreviations only, which make fun with themselves. Orient Expressions are another group who holds perfectly the middle between new music and DJ work. They are in fact a contemporary Turkish folk-crossover pop group who make use of modern DJ work, without ever exploiting something, with their original sound, here in this track a beautiful mix of drum and bass, trance and Kurdish folk. Ayhan Sicimoglu’s track proves how Turkish musicians easily adapt any genre and mix it with a close feeling to their folklore roots. This particular track mixes Turkish folk with reggae. Usually he specialises in Latin music. The track by dZihan & Kamien is the next DJ example, a DJ duo from Vienna who sample Turkish rhythms with other modern complex rhythms create in this track a very attractive and exotic colourful sound. I could expect also a hiphop/rap track, which is added from Ceza. Personally I like this less because the aggressive and fast rap for me is a bit too much the opposite of the dreamy oriental orchestrations, making it the only track I personally didn’t like much myself despite it’s relatively new combinations of elements. Burhan Öçal is of course listed too, with an also for me surprising track of Turkish classical music with orchestra and the voice of Emel Sayin mixed with some modern electro-beats and Turkish percussion. Burhan Öcal experimented before with American jazz crossovers with Turkish music, so of course also this version isn’t overobvious and complex enough to be entirely successful. Baba Cay (from Rebel Moves) associated with the Elec-trip records label shows modern pop with a complexity in rhythms and dynamic mixing which is also typical Turkish, and because of its folk-based complexity in a modern sound, is very attractive. Very different and a nice change is the Brooklyn Funk Essentials with Laço Tayfa who mix ska with wedding brass band folk and a jazz touch. This is an American/Turkish cooperation. The band mixes even more styles on their album, which this track comes from. Percussionist Burhan Öcal has found his own mix of styles based upon Turkish and here also North African Middle Eastern folklore and deep down trance beats. The track was recorded in cooperation with Tunisian producer and electronic musician Smadj. Göksel is a pop idol wpo even when it’s definitely pop I still cannot call mainstream, because of the whole oriental flavour of the band, which includes nice electric guitar, played like saz, and belly dance hand bells. Replikas, the most underground rocking band with oriental tunes is also included, with a new version especially made for this compilation. A surprising ending and on the edge of DJ work is composer’s Taner Demiralp’s track, an 18th century Ottoman song and poem arranged with modern electronica and Turkish percussion with synthesizer, violin, traditional flutes and Arabesque singing.

An original compilation that is useful both for listening pleasure as well as for DJ work.

Audio : La Mirage :"The Night Session" (or here), Sivan Perwer: "Heybénin", Cay Taylan: "Ciftetelli", Nil Karaibrahimgil : "Butun Kizlar Toplandik", Baba Zula : "Kisaltmalar", Orient Expressions : "Ehmedo", Ayhan Sicimoglu : "Reggae Turca Tone", dZihan & Kamien: "Just U and I", Ceza: "Rapstar", Burhan Öçal feat. Emel Sayin : "Cile Bülbülüm", Brooklyn Funk Essentials feat. Laço Tayfa : "Ska Ka Bop", Baba Cay: "Mancis", Burhan Öcal & Trakya All Stars : "Tekirdag Karsilasmasi", Göksel: "Depresyondayim", Replikas : "Omur Sayaci", Taner Demiralp : "Gül Yüzlülerin Sevkine Gel"
Label info :
and in German (with links to other German reviews)
Other German descriptions :
Other releases of Tayfa, Orient Expressions, Baba Zula, and of Replikas see my review pages
English description :
Elec-Trip Rec.    V.A. : Istanbul calling -ethnic-electronic (TÜ,2003)***°

This Istanbul label is interested in the local alternative scene that combines the original ethnical Anatolian folk source of music, and the newly grown alternative electronic scene, which is I assume mostly a dance related scene, but not necessarily. The album was compiled carefully over a year of preparation. Of course some of the music sounds and is popular, like for instance from Rebel Moves (who are related in some way to the label). What is so good about even the more popular-but-still-alternative Turkish scene is that the music is always incredibly well produced, and the use of ethnical instruments (sampled or real) with some Middle Eastern percussion and orchestral samples combines perfectly with very spatial dynamic pop-electronica. What is so typical for the Turkish alternative ethno-nu sounds scene is that there is an open and opening up structure, related to the folk heritage background. The compilation is very well compiled because it sounds like one group or different ideas led by one producer or dynamic production sound.*

There are different examples of the use of this ethno-nu combination. Just a few groups are basically pop-groups, like Rebel Moves. Gate Eight might even have some associations in some kind of soulful disco (male/female singing) dancefloor pop, but is based upon lots of interesting elements (use of a spherical orchestral sample and another sample of old Turkish record, wa-wa effects, mini-trumpet, fender Rhodes, exotic rhythms, electric bass). Haximum seems to have some elements of  underground post-German wave keyboards and bass, and rock but combines this in a typical Istanbul way with Sufi flute, and lots of other groovy variations. The fine track by Ugurcan Sezen sounds more like a DJ mix (lounge keyboard sounds with Middle Eastern orchestra samples, Turkish percussion samplers, ethno-strings and electronic rhythms), a name which I saw also on a compilation of popular tunes on fashioshows compilation. Buzz-Phorus in Secrecy starts from drum & bass and electronic sharp beats, combined with jazzy trumpet, spoken word, and Turkish percussion. Other tracks leave more room for the Turkish folk improvisation, especially noticeable on the Mert Tünay track which consist of groovy combinations with keyboards and rhythms interacting with a real saz improvisation (?), or the Baba Cay track which definitely has an acoustic group making the fundament (with saz, Turkish percussion, acoustic guitar & keyboards, bass and orchestra).

Sometimes it’s really difficult to tell where there is a sample, and what is a live interaction. I can’t tell this for instance on the Coldhouse with Emre Can track with Turkish traditional singing, modern effects, melodic keyboards and varied rhythms. The same with Selim Demirdelen’s track where we hear Turkish clarinet combined with simple piano and many groovy rhythmic evolutions. I must add that the groups listed -in the in a musical way leading alternative electro-ethno scenes in Istanbul-, also here, have in no ways many reasons or intention for exploitation of elements. They just use what they feel in their deeply and widely rooted nature. The dEmian track used a theme on gothic overtone-keyboards, combined with interesting subtle rhythmic colourful percussion, and belly dance percussion. The strangest combination, using other than Turkish colours is the track from Erkin Arslan, which combines sufi-flute with steeldrum, bringing a lot more ethnic feeling in the singing, almost Caribbean, but then adds saz parts, Turkish rhythms and traditional singing.

A well compiled CD, suitable for many different occasions.

*-Afterwards, I found out that the album mostly is a collection of concerts led by producer/DJ Oguz Kaplangi, with the help of samplers and electronic rhythm sections, he is also accompanied by musicians with live Turkish ethnic instruments. This producer is also the owner of the music production/record label named Elec-Trip Records, and member of the band Rebel Moves, besides being one of the founders of Radio ODTU. -

Audio : Rebel Moves : "Bandare", Ugurcan Sezen : "Taboo", Gate Eight : "Just Remember", dEmain : "Music",
Oguz Kaplangi : "Buzz-Phorus In Secrecy" More audio :
Label info :
Voltay       V.A. : Türkiye'den Alternatif Rock (TÜ,2007)**°°

This is a well compiled, and well put together album of new Turkish alternative rock and post-rock bands, which is mostly guitar driven and with little keyboards. All of it is great music of an enjoyable and comparable quality, or at least fits very well amongst the other tracks. The music remains often rather moody in its nature, no matter if some groovier night club energy is involved. DDR uses keyboards and plays a bit more of an old wave-kind of drumming, a reason, and also for the name association, I associated them before with the German/English 80s wave rock scenes, but in between the other Turkish groups they show of course also a different context.

All groups fit rather well because of the instrumental development with electric guitars and bass with drums as leading fundament. Granulez is also different for its use of organ and pitched electronic rhythmic sounds, as if again waverock-associated, but mixed with a sort of psychedelic surf flavour, an original sound. Fungu with its longer, developed track, distinguish themselves with a female breathy singer, and some sequenced sounds, and sounds a bit psychedelic too if you ask me. Also distinguishable track is by Dehr-i Yalan who clearly have a punk influence in their music. Mai, as another alternative rock band, seems to have adapted some 70s psych influences (Pink Floyd,;.)in the guitar effects and such.

A recommended compilation which give you an idea what you can expect to hear in some of the better underground nightclubs in Istanbul nowadays.

Audio :
& & on
Links to different groups on myspace :
Other review :
Doublemoon       V.A. : Doublemoon Women (TÜ,2008) ???

no review done
Rough TradeV.A. : Rough guide to the music of Turkey ; Europe meets Asia :
gypsy, bellydance & beyond (2003)*°'
Intro : Thoughts and reminders about any World Music compilation :

First of all I have to introduce the background of this series by Rough Trade. The foundations for publications from this label on behalf of folk orientated music, was an interest in 'roots' foundation orientated folk music. At the moment when 'World Music' became popular after Peter Gabriel's launch of the Real World label, showing combinations of roots folk styles with modern studio recording, and with studio guest musicians, this launched a new fashion that was successful with many Real World releases, at the same time such combinations of roots with modern touches was a forced combination, and not a spontaneous fusion or blend from a creative viewpoint. It became a sales object possibly making (basically the less inspired examples of) roots music "enriched" with a commercialised idea which only now and then succeeds. In some way various of such approaches used this as a basis of approach, seperated from every essence of any origins the original folk could have derived from, one could question whether this new goal was "impure" or not. Basically it is still roots folk with even less knowing what it is all about, most effects being adapted aren't created from any new inspirational source either. Real spontaneously derived creativity based upon folk and thus mixed with any other genres or inspiration is hard to find when the term 'World music should remain the main term as a basic condition and not the interest in a creative musical process. I still remembered the 'Rough Guide to the Arabesque', which implied these thoughts that I had before. Confirming any such mentality to let a chosen and not a creative process decide for East and West combinations would result in a further commercialisation of music. I wondered what the persons who decided what to compile on a CD had in mind when looking for new ideas for compilations. I prefer to have a critical idea of music, look for unique creative moments, where I, very idealistically don't think of money (or profit) margins for making a good compilation (whether with me it is with a radioshow in mind, or whether it is with a CD compilation, like here). Are these series also made for fashion-seeking Cultural Centres, with an emphasis on the 'idea' of originality and of what characterises new countries ? My personal idea of original 'World Music' is music that combines any kind of "roots" or originating ideas are always related with a choice from within, resulting to an openness to a consciousness from anywhere in the world, reflected in music, and with "World music instruments" and "World musical ideas", rather than showing a look-at-the-monkey effect of the "other culture", with a television like produced polished and optimised contrasting effect , because that will sell well ? I really don't like that kind of  idiot conservative television eye on the world that gets such follow-ups that foreign groups will make so willingly in mixing western effects with their habitat's music, to create such newly fashioned music. Such approaches seldom prove much underlying creativity. Such groups as would pop up at first in favourable conditions destined to be chosen by any of these Cultural Centres, exploiting further such ideas of  "music" and results in even more commercial compilations. This could lead to an "impurity" in music in every sense indeed.

What about this compilation of Turkish Music ?

I know also that Turkey since the eighties experienced a commercialisation in music. Music since the eighties had landed in a more dictatorial music business. The real interesting founded creative (urban) explorations of mixing different cultures in a unique mix in the sixties and seventies,  had vanished.
Now people from small towns wanted a new taste of freedom, not founded with an intellectual and creative process, but with a momentous joy, being glad to be part of a 'material world', as ego-driven adolescent music as the commercial American music market prescribed music could be.
The first part of the CD has examples of the Arabesque Pop style that had become more and more popular and common in Turkey more recently.

The first track by Sezen Aksu describes this commercialisation, (exploited by good looking boys and divas) well. Sezen is called "Queen of Turkish music", but you could also call her a Madonna for Turkey. The next Arabesque Pop music track by Ebru Gündes is nice in singing and instrumentation -with arabesque orchestration-, but unless it has some Turkish percussion and oud ? it still follows a more simple pop rhythm. Still enjoyable. Also the track of Sibel Can is another example of Arabesque Pop. While the Arabesque colourings are nice as elements being used, again rhythmically and musically the song itself is musically not so creative. Another example of music performed for ? the diva-effect. Also the track by Ümit Sayin is based upon the same patterns described before and a similar kind of inspiration. Every instrument including the singing are all to the fore, and I feel no openness for a musical creative process other than the orientation for expressing a pop song. The track by Levent Yüksel is even more commercial and mainstream in its rhythmic arrangements. Unless I hear an arabesque orchestra, and a pop like Arabesque voice, I still don't find this very rewarding. The track by Ajda Pekkan is a more relaxing moment, with flamenco like guitar and Latin like rhythms, but basically also this track is just another mainstream pop song.
Then the CD changes bit by bit to explore some examples of folk with real fusion abilities.

The next track is by Grup Yorum, a Kurdish ? group from the somewhat more interesting Kalan Music label, which is a pop song with basically folk arrangements. Still a bit too mainstream to be really good. This is luckily followed by a group from one of the most interesting labels, Doublemoon records. This track by Laço Tayfa & The Hüsnü Selendirici, is for me finally the first interesting track, a gypsy ? / jazz fusion instrumental, traditional instruments with electric bass and drums, a very nice interpretation of what traditional music can be when adapting a fusing approach. Also Omar Faruk Tekbilek -from the Celestial Harmonies label- brings a very fine Sufi music inspired folk fusion instrumental. Omar cooperated before with interesting names from the jazz and world music.

The next track by Belkis Akkale, folk singer, fits well after the two fusion groups. It is also very different from the earlier tracks from the Arabesque pop singers, and it's also much more interesting, a nice voice with good fusion like accompaniment, that is build on various elements derived from different folk and also western genres. The following track by another folk singer Birol Topaloglu, is also still ok for a listen to the performance and arrangements, though it's still somewhat limited in inspiration.
The last three tracks are related with Belly Dancing or another hypnotic music with dance, Sufi music.

The next track is by another folk fusion ensemble, the Barbaros Erköse Ensemble, who bring a somewhat improvised and stretched track with Greek? folk influences with a slightly jazz improvisation touch. I can imagine this band played at weddings before ; with this track more tempered as a music hall offshoot version. The next fine traditional folk (?) track by Kemani Cemal Cinarli is Turkish gypsy music, possibly belly dance music, driving somewhat towards a hypnotic moment. The last but one track is an example of classical Sufi music, performed by Kudsi Erguner. And being a compilation of Turkish World music, also the Sufi music from the Mevlevi culture must be included, in a musical genre banned in Turkey since 1925, still associated with the famous whirling dervishes. This specific track reminds me, in musical instruments balance and in some other aspects of ancient Greek music, here with a hypnotic effect through the rhythm changes. I don't know if this is a good choice for an example, but it surely gives a good idea about the essence of it.

Overall this release gives a good overview of various different genres that have most clearly Turkish folk elements, that nowadays are popular in Turkey. The compilation has given a certain choice of tracks as representation of each existing style. The approach in the compilation is mainly 'library-compilation' like.

It is not a compilation of the most interesting outstanding moments of each genre. Making such a compilation would also have asked much more effort to compile, a very uneasy task without help of the most specialised collectors. For modern man, living fast and with curiosity to other cultures this CD gives an idea like a documentary. But it does not give an idea of the real creative moments that uplifted each of the involved genres. It did not compile historical recordings with musicality, creativity and original expression as the most important standards. For digging deeper into what the crafty essence music in general could bring this is, despite some good examples -at most the tracks with the fusion elements-, this release is not satisfying for such a approach. This last approach being described happens to be mine ; when compiling my radioshow, when looking for progressive music with thought out depth and content, and for fusing or crossing bounderies in music anywhere in the world.

If I myself would make a perfect more progressive compilation based upon the earliest more recent recordings I knew (1995-2003) this compilation would look like this (chosen without having known the Siddharta release yet ) :


PS. For those interested in Middle Eastern Fusions / Progressive Rock :
I've also reviewed items from Iran / Persia : 70's & now
& several other middle eastern Fusion / Rock items
Ihtiyac Molasi : Delikanli
Serdar Ateser : Tesis
Replikas : Akis
Replikas : Guluyabani Müzik
Replikas : Karabasan
Fairiz derin bulut : Gonca
Zen : Ariza Oyun Havasi
Baba zula : Korsan
Baba zula : Bahar
Nekrposi : Carsi
Istanbul Blues Kumpanyasi : Izmir e Donüs
Orientation : Anton's Dream
Aziza A : Kim Dedi (instr.)
Ilhan Ersahin : Oriental Wind


Go back to INDEX PAGE 1 of Turkish Progressive : 60's -70's
with compilation albums of that period at the Altin Mikrofon page
Go back to INDEX PAGE 2 of Turkish Progressive : 90's -now

or go back to the index page of the Radio Program PVHF)
contact webmaster / radio show here