Turkish Canadians take traditional tunes and bathe them in shimmering, atmospheric guitars. The dreamy soundscape saunters along with a subtle kick in its step, as it expresses the pain of rootlessness.
Label: World Trip Records
Time: 13 tracks / 59 minutes
Singer Ozgu Ozman and guitarist Ozan Boz may not be refugees, but they have felt “culturally homeless” and uprooted (hence the title) since leaving Turkey and moving separately to Canada.
It started with seeing the 2013 people’s movement in Istanbul’s Gezi Park crushed by the government, and finding echoes of that authoritarian bullying even in North America. Although there is not a word of English sung (but translations in the insert), you can detect a palpable sense of loss seeping through this wonderfully layered release, which blends the best of their home and host nations’ cultures.
“I have endured much anguish in this world
So many times I dreamed of leaving
But I couldn’t.
How many deaths have I escaped?
How many deaths have I killed?”
The duo’s 2011 début topped the Canadian world music charts and won awards there, such as Favourite World Artist of the Year.
This follow up was destined to be trip-hop or Indie pop until Boz heard Ozman humming Turkish folk songs and dreamt a new soundscape for them.
Not wanting to blend these European and Western styles, but have them co-exist on the disc, the album is based around Turkish folk melodies and lyrics, all wrapped up in spacious, shimmering guitars in a style that tends towards the ambient, but has its fair share of crescendos and grooves.
It may help to think of later Talk Talk meeting the vibe of Anouar Brahem’s Souvenance, all undergirding exotic vocals. Keeping the disc fluid are some instrumental passages to connect songs.
On some early tracks, like “Mendilimin Yesili” they bring in some trumpet to add texture, and it is one of several pieces that see some thick, growling fretless bass moving about slinkily, adding real depth. The bass on the title track reminds me very much of Mick Karn on Japan’s Tin Drum.
“Iki Keklik /Two Partridges” has a real psychedelic vibe over its insistent light riff, while the sparser “Gunes Türküsü / Sun’s Song” and “Uyuttum Alari / I Lulled the Horses to Sleep” are particularly gorgeous.
Overall, this clever combination of traditional tunes, interweaving shoegazy picked guitars, exotic tones and tremendously sharp and clear production creates the sort of album you return to for the dreamy atmosphere, knowing that it will take a lot of plays before you can become really familiar with the details, so the joy of discovery lasts and lasts.