Album of the Day: Baba Zula, “Derin Derin”
By Joshua Minsoo Kim · October 04, 2019 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP, , Vinyl

Since 1996, the Istanbul-based band Baba Zula have created enchanting songs built around Turkish folk music. While their melding of contemporary and traditional sounds finds its forebears in Turkey’s psychedelic rock scene during the ‘70s—such as Erkin Koray, Barış Manço, and 3 Hür-El—the group craft their heady rock and folk music with a roots-first, references-second approach. Baba Zula’s career is a storied one, soundtracking Fatih Akin’s 2005 documentary Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul and collaborating with dub legend Mad Professor on two records (recently showcased on 2017’s retrospective comp XX.) And on Derin Derin, they prove they still have much more to say.

One of the most immediately striking facets of Derin Derin is how its relatively polished production doesn’t take away from the instrumental rawness. On opener “Haller Yollar,” circuitous saz melodies, electronic squelches, and thumping percussion come together to form a tightly controlled psych jam. Its low end comes through hard, buoying the rest of the song and making the brief moments of silence all the more playful through such dramatic contrast. Their arranging expertise is even more palpable on “Kurt Kapma,” a cryptic ambient piece that morphs into a scorching krautrock-inflected freak-out midway; “Transendance,” on the other hand, aims for a more meditative tone, its glacially-paced hooks and silvery vocals ensuring a hypnotic listen throughout. That Baba Zula navigate so many styles on this album, with equal levels of confidence, ease and sophistication, is impressive enough, but their continued ability to surprise and astound never fails to inspire.


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