Friday, March 23, 2007

C.D. Review; Edip Akbayram - Self-titled compilation (Shadoks)

Little known outside his native Turkey until fairly recently, Edip Akbayram's early recordings are only now being released on c.d. for his growing international audience. The music on this double c.d. is culled from vinyl; old singles, and Edip's first two albums with the Turkish band Dostlar. Since the music is licensed from Edip, there were presumably no old studio master tapes available to use in producing this collection. There is a booklet with pictures and notes about this little known music. After winning a song contest in Turkey in 1972, Edip recorded a few singles and albums with the group Dostlar, who play an intriguing, mix of indigenous sounding Turkish music with western popular music trends, especially psychedelic and progressive rock. Their 1974 debut album was itself a collection of previously released singles, and one can hear the psychedelic influences throughout these songs. The transition from psych to prog-rock seems to have been a more gradual process in Turkey than it was in the west, where psychedelia had all but died out by the time Edip and Dostlar started recording in 1972. The movement apparently had a greater impact in Turkey than previously recognized, as demonstrated by several exciting vintage Turkish psychedelia collections released over the last couple of years.
This collection features sweeping vocals from Edip, and wafting, complex music arrangements. The saz, a Turkish variation of a lute (lest comparing to a Bouzouki be taken as a provocation!), is featured prominently through out this collection. Some songs have a more western sound than others, but the Anatolian sensibility is always present, even on songs that sound like something Led Zeppelin could only have wished to have recorded, instead of their own clumsy attempts to fuse Western and Eastern music. Perhaps it is just as well that Jimmy Page never got to hear "Yakar Inceden Inceden", or it would surely have been recorded by his band, complete with Robert Plant's screeching instead of Akbayram's soaring, but controlled vocals.
Edip Akbayram was apparently known for his socially conscious lyrics, and one of his hits in Turkey is "Kolum Nerden Aldin Zinciri", a powerful, driving song about a prison.
There are smatterings of organ throughout the two discs, used sparingly but to great effect on some songs, in particular "Kas, Larin Karasina".
The murky, brooding sound of "Mehmet Emmi" benefits from a haunted house style organ that complements the other keyboard effects on this track.
"Arabam Kaldi Yolda" starts off on a jazz-funk tip, a la C.T.I. Records, before the vocals come in and remind the listener this music isn't from around here. The C.T.I sound continues with the keyboard playing on "Haberin Varmi", but Edip Akbayram and Dostlar use more strings than keyboards on this double disc. Guitars are as prevalent as the saz or any other sound. The singing is robust, right to the end of the plaintive sounding final cut, "Birak Beni".
This music is so approachable, to open minded fans of rock and other music styles, it is surprising Edip Akbayram stayed under the radar of non-Turkish music fans for so long. Indeed, many of these songs, if sung in English, wouldn't have sounded out of place on some long lost vintage English prog record.

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