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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Saadet Türköz, Giovanni Maier, Zlatko Kaučič – Zarja-Tay (Rudi Records, 2012) ****

Listening to Zarja-Tay involves confronting a lot of uncomfortable places, beautiful dreams and awkward moments. To be up for the challenge, I highly suggest meditating with bells and gongs first. Work with the higher frequencies will help to bust up all your preconceptions about words, sounds, borders, language and communication. At minimum, you will at least clear your sinuses so that you are worthy of receiving the transmissions so generously offered to you by this fine assemblage of highly evolved humans.

The Trio is comprised of Italian bassist Giovanni Maier, Slovenian-born Zlatko Kaučič on percussion, and the Swiss-based Kazakh-Turkish singer Saadet Türköz. Zarja-Tay was recorded in a pilgrimage church in Crngrob, Slovenia (an ancient holy place created by a Giant Girl, whose rib hangs among the detailed frescoes that include illustrations of demons eating those who do wrong).

In the world of Zarja-Tay you will find:
  • unfamiliar words that you want to know
  •  musical ideas that need a lot of time to simmer
  • sounds that are not words and sounds that may not even be sounds….
  • multi-cultural unknowns that are mysteriously familiar
  • other-worldly impulses that pierce through illusion
  • alien landscapes that beckon
  • terrifying leaps that repel
  • subterranean forces that remember what you had for lunch yesterday and work to ensure that you never eat that food ever again even though those morsels  are essential for your survival
Oh, wow, help. This is a journey.


Like all artists, Saadet Türköz is informed by her influences. Hers are very unique: "I was born in Istanbul in 1961, and I am currently living in Zurich.
Due to the political pressure of the Chinese government upon the Turk people in East Turkestan (Uyghur Autonomous Region), my parents fled to Istanbul, where they settled as Kazakh refugees. They transmitted us the rich oral and musical traditions of the highlands of Central Asia. With the tales of their far away country and their journey to Turkey, the elderly people of the Kasakh community influenced my imagination as musician until nowadays." Zarja-Tay is dedicated to her brother, Ahmet Türköz (1963-2009), “…who was engaged in human rights for free East Turkestan.”

Saadet Türköz expresses herself in ways I’ve never heard before. Track 5, “Voice” and Track 3 “Massallah!” are two especially fine examples of her unique vocal style.
It was difficult at first to take in the universe of sound she forges, and I got off track as I became obsessed with not knowing the meaning of the words (*). But what seems like words here, are, in many cases, not even words anyway, so what is perhaps most necessary is to have an open mind and embrace the pre-verbal. This is really hard, and that’s why I highly recommend this album! Saadet Türköz is not fooling around, and you will grow as a listener and as a person because you are going to be squirming. Like an ant who has succeeded in running away from a fanatic wielding a magnifying glass on a hot day, only to get smashed by a big thumb you never saw coming. Shamanic is the only word that will do.


Zlatko Kaučič has gongs and bells and scratchy things scraping and rusty, swinging gates flying slowly open and closed. Listening, I feel as if I were being born inside a Gamelon, with every instrument a living bone or strong tooth. His precision carries a spiritual depth, complete with deep toms at opportune moments. Nothing wasted. Nothing haphazard. Like a brilliant poem throughout. (Of special note, Track 9, “Apa”).


In this context, Giovanni Maier becomes a friendly, loving GPS you are so happy to have around. Full of warmth. A lullabye~compass. Maier’s choices create a powerful juxtaposition with the focused intensity behind Türköz’s voice, and he anchors the band well. This is not to say that he plays it safe. Maier on bass also travels to select alternate worlds, sounding over here like a shofar….over there, like a viola….there again, like a human voice and then, alternately like….? Track 4, “Snake,” is especially enticing, as is the thoughtful and quiet, “Zero” (Track 10).

(*) Saadet kindly helped me out with some translations. Here is another:

The old spirits on the other side invite me to die.
They say to me, you are welcome to paradise
I will die, I wanna go
My heart has pain – take me to the other side

Please don’t forget me,
Where I’m going
I can see you and hear – on the other side
I am a beautiful spirit!
            -- Saadet Türköz, “Köpes,” Eng. transl.
                        (Köpes means: generous human and is a family nickname
                                    for Saadet’s brother)


Phantasie from Zarja-Tay

Saadet Türköz: My Boy, My Horse, My Dog (with English text transl.)