Beyond Istanbul - Underground Grooves of Turkey

Shtetl Super Stars - Funky Jewish Sounds From Around The World


Getting Muslims and Jews to move forward with peace talks in the Middle East borders on a miracle. Since that's the case, it's a good thing we have these two compilations, coming from different sides of the fence, where music is allowed to co-exist peacefully.
Compiled by German resident, DJ Ipek Ipekçioglu "Beyond Istanbul" is an extensive compilation featuring the best of today's modern beat culture in Turkey. If you've enjoyed anything that has come out of that country - Burhan Öçal or Baba Zula - you're bound to love this mix right away. To those unconverted, the album features 16 tracks [totalling a massive 77 minutes] and gives us tradition with large helpings of other musics. Ayhan Sicimođlu's hard hitting reggae beats along with a rap in Turkish on "Reggae Turca Tone" makes all the sense in the world as does Brooklyn Funk Essentials featuring Laco Tayfa "Ska Ka Bop", which may be Turkey's answer to The Specials. One of the biggest surprises comes in the form of Replikas' hard hitting "Ömür Sayaci". This is one stop you've got to make if you dig metal with a Middle Eastern subtext. Multi-instrumentalist Burhan Öçal makes a couple of appearances. One is a mid-tempo, groove-heavy appearance with Trakya All Stars, while the other one resembles a cross between an invocation and a modern rap number. Taking into account the diversity of material on the album, the one constant is that never-ending beat. Let's hope this will lead to further opening of Turkey's borders to unleash new music on western audience.
When most people think of Jewish music, they automatically get a picture of a klezmer band playing at a wedding or at some festival. Not that klezmer music doesn't represent Jewish identity, it's just that allowing one particular music to represent a whole culture is ridiculous. "Shtetl Super Stars" goes a long way in fixing this misnomer. From the echo-chamber, Middle Easter flavours of MookE's "Shabak Music", through to the dub-wise styling of King Django's Roots and Culture "Shtiklakh", all the way to haunting vocal stylings of Oi Va Voi's "Gypsy", the compilation tends to swing all over the damn place. Whether you're digging the surf flavours of Astroglides on "Adventures of Rabbi Jacob" or meditating to Lemez Lovas hauntingly sombre film score "2nd Train Meditation", there's something here for just about any musical taste. Don't be scared to dig right in and explore the sounds that have eluded you for so long. I had no idea what sort of thirst this album would be able to quench.
Now, if only solving the Middle East crisis was this easy.

- Tom Sekowski

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