Neighboring Love Songs
I’ve only spun about twenty albums released this year, the rest of my listening time devoted to bizarro eccentric interests and stuff I should’ve heard a long time ago. No clue as to when I’ll get around to reviewing new releases, though at some point I’ll probably release a deluge of Honorable Mentions, as most everything I’ve come across has been listenable though little more than that. I’m keeping a running commentary on every new album I hear, something akin to Tom Hull’s Rhapsody Streamnotes. It’s more to help me remember stuff I spun once and forgot—brief notes on the who, what, where, and most importantly, the why.
As for these two releases, I’ve been onto Koray for the past couple years thanks to my girlfriend. My relation with the dabke comp, on the other hand, is explained within. Interesting to note that Gergis, who made the dabke comp, works for Sublime Frequencies, which released the Koray comp. I thought it was neat, though really I shouldn’t be surprised given the relationship of the music. I’m putting neither into the 2012 list, and instead you can count these as the first entries that will constitute my 2013 wrap-up, even though neither were released this year.
Dabke: Sounds of the Syrian Houran (Sham Palace ’12): 1,000 print vinyl-only release I sought after reading high praise from Tatum and others but didn’t diligently pursue until it soared to number two on Christgau’s year-end best-of. Finally nabbed a download and will seek a hard copy when the opportunity presents itself. Seven Arabic wedding songs from the volcanic/agricultural region of currently war-torn Syria collected by Mark Gergis with only one artist (Ahmad al Kosem) featured twice. All include remarkably propulsive, explosive percussion, instruments ranging from the flute-like kaval, davul drum, hand-slapped bell zil, album-titled foot-stomp dabke, and wild female vocal trills. Those trills, of course, take the backseat when the boisterous male frontmen come out swinging, sounding deadly serious despite near-comical names such as “Your Love Made My Head Hurt.” A sidelong view into culture of the region, this music permeates beyond its geographical genesis, a display of marriage traditions where “Love is Not a Joke.” Seriously, guys. It’s not a fucking joke. A MINUS
ERKIN KORAY – Mechul: Singles & Rarities (Sublime Frequencies ’11): Collects eleven songs not found on any of the father of Turkish rock ‘n roll’s studio albums. Lazily compared to Jimi Hendrix probably because he pioneered distortion in the Turkish rock scene (and how else are rock critics gonna sell this niche market stuff?), though Anatolian influences supersede Western ones in my mind. Would’ve been nice if the liner notes claiming these were gathered from Koray’s personal vinyl copies included translations, but they don’t, though from what I’ve been told they’re pretty melancholy, keeping in tradition with traditional Turkish musical temperament, hence greater Anatolian influence—rock is (was?) all about anti-authoritarianism, and when it talks about love it’s dirty when it’s doing it right; these love songs rarely approach politics and beg the garbage man to sweep away his crumbling heart, the wrong kind of ‘dirty.’ Late contemporary Cem Karaca fits the bill more appropriately given his offhanded political storytelling disposition. Regardless, this is sonically engaging, those wild Turkish pipes creeping on “Krallar,” his unique guitar tone leading the charge on the opening run. Had his shit together more than Jim Morrison, that’s for sure. A MINUS