A couple of months back, our erstwhile critic from Istanbul, Sean Bw Parker, collated together ten of the most exciting, edgy, entertaining and adroit acts from his fair city home for a special report on Turkey’s cultural hub – as it turns out, a very healthy – music scene. Whether he had it in mind or not, the polymath musician/writer and sometime producer has since compiled an off-shot compilation album, which features these choice bands, entitled of course, Istanbul Dogs. Ayfer Simms, who made her debut on the Monolith Cocktail a couple of weeks ago, has written a passionate, assiduous prosed purview for the occasion.
Various ‘Istanbul Dogs’ (Seragilo Point Productions/ Distributed by Believe Digital) Available Now
These DOGS are walking, racing, taking over, or retreating in the quieter corners of a deserted city, patrolling the perimeter left free and decadent, starting the album with the energy of a rolling fire, enticing with its bold lyrics, Saigon traffic invites you to start a revolution under a scorching sun, and gets you mingled in a world where all is possible: a rebellion, the end of an order. The poetry of the lyrics “making love while the building collapses” does not fail to remind me the revolution of Sade in his Manor, the energy of the track and the images make you want to see what happens when you accept their invitation and burn in a godless hell. In the same streak of rebellion (the tracks cleverly spread over between quieter tunes to create a wavy atmosphere) there is Menace shouting ‘shut the fuck up you dirty bastard’ between a surprisingly catchy melody, Spent Ex barking a punkie beast’s saliva Daddy O anthem, whilst Bilge & Ozver‘s track has a Turkish lefty philosophical air to it. ‘Bananafingers’ tickles the ears and the mind, it’s like a musical maze, a carefully concocted buzz, a cocktail, some panic, some love, some tears, some hope, if Bananafingers was literature it would be Blaise Cendrars’ Moravagine, a big unsteady fascinating adventure that leaves you smiling. Allen Hulsey’s ‘Break It Down’ is the classical rock-sounding track, with regular rhythm throughout, a sort of song played in a small town bar, before the vampires break the house between dawn and dusk. We are leaving the revolution behind with Livin’in the ‘bul, to come to a more secure place with Oasis/Beatles soft melody, John Goodrich, makes you feel safe and chilled, almost happy, on a trail travelling somewhere where there’s a nice breeze.
In a different corner of the Manor ABDU gives you a promise of a good life. As if the drawbridge were lifted and you can get a glimpse of greener pastures, Abdu’s vocalist a gentle prince that cares NOT for the bloody revolution of his fathers but opt for a reconciliation, even if it seems impossible, ‘Güzel Hayat’ is probably the lightest tune on the album along with the Black Schwartz’s one (which sounds so laid back he may havewritten it still a bit drunk and on the verge of falling asleep) and Dylan Ware’s track that’s sounds light but has a cynical streak to it, an open letter to a trouble maker, the “I need a cocktail drink talking about someone who “bites” and has nothing to say? Sweet and sour”.
There are a couple of musical tracks on the album, douglasvegas gives a recess to the fight of the tyrants, the sound of the night creatures, the bats and the owls doing a few hallucinogenic loops around the fire where the dogs are resting before the night. The other one takes you beyond earth, Chorni’s ‘Strom’ is the longest track of the album, it has the melancholy of a heroin induced Conan Doyle, traveling to the edge of the universe where Stanley Kubrick’s apes are whispering about the fate of humankind.
Fulya Ozlem is the quirky one of the album, a sort of Bjork, independent, living in the wilds outside the castle in the depth of the tall grass, she is the wild thing; her voice has something theatrical about it, echoed by some kind of didgeridoo as she waves it into a confident longing for tomorrow. I loved The Revolters’ track, there’s something about the rhythm that doesn’t leave you alone once it gets you with its strong tapping and rolling, a music that makes you feel like a character from lock, stock and two smoking barrels, with an edgy and enthralling race to it, an intrepid luring controlled clever madness. There are a few (more than a few) tracks on this album that made me want to know more about the bands and this is one of them.
Nazli Sensoy’s song is like a tingling butterfly about to burst, it’s sensual AND makes you feel sensual, this song is like standing naked in front of a mirror, eyes closed, this song is the song of the femme fatal in love, who suffers and yet inflicts beauty to the eyes of all the angry dogs in the room. I have listened to this many times! ‘Sea & Destiny’…’And a voice rises from dawn’, straight from the spice trail of ancient years, crossing some oriental lands, with camels and a heavy stack of notebooks and pipes, and freedom, the deep land of Turkey and beyond comes out with some familiar Turkish melodies that pops in at all the right times, carrying nothing of the sad melancholia, just a mystical atmosphere and an urge to learn to tap on a djumbe. I liked how they used some very familiar Turkish music sounds without the boring predictability of them.
This album is a great adventure to plunge in to. Where are all these dogs hiding now? It’s time to dig them out, I say.
Here’s the man himself, Sean Bw Parker’s ramshackle introduction to each of the bands: