Turkish bassist Alper Yilmaz follows up his 2007 debut as a leader (which I haven’t heard) with this relatively cranked-up fusion session. In addition to bass, he credits himself with “sound design” and “loops,” but that shouldn’t be taken to mean this is some kind of antiseptic, mechanistic Nik Bärtsch-style disc where the gentle rhythms lull you into a trance while the instrumentalists play drifting, pastel-wash solos. Nor is it the overly placid electronic “world fusion” of someone like Dhafer Youssef. No, this is funky, rockin’ stuff. Alto saxophonist David Binney and guitarist Nir Felder bring a lot of energy to bear, Felder in particular. His extended solo on “Flughafen” gets almost metallic at times.
Binney’s tone is acerbic, with a jagged edge—he doesn’t remind me of anyone in particular, which is a good thing. On “Misir with Grandma,” he plays an almost unaccompanied solo for the first two and a half minutes of the eleven-minute piece; there are some gently whispering, chittering electronics behind him, but otherwise it’s his show. When the piece commences, it’s a gentle ballad, not at all what was suggested by his intro, which boiled with tension. Only at around the nine-minute mark, when Yilmaz begins to play quite forcefully, and the ensemble follows, does the collective energy level return to where Binney brought it early on.
Since Yilmaz is the leader, I should talk about his playing. It’s impressive, fluid yet dynamic and powerful—when he wants to take over, he does so with ease. And “Cagdas’ Tune,” a showcase he permits himself, is quite beautiful. There are times when the pieces on this album get a little long (six minutes that should have been four, eight minutes that should have been five), and when the long melodies blur the line between head and solo, it can start to feel a little meandering, but Binney and Felder bring it back from the brink of aimlessness time and again. This is a very electric, even electronic record that still makes it clear, moment by moment, that these are four men making music together in a room. (Note: there are two drummers, Bodek Janke and Volkan Öktem, switching off, and a female singer, Aslihan Demirtas, provides wordless—but not scat, let me be very, very clear on that score—vocals on the album-closing title track.) I like this a lot.
1. Do I foresee myself listening to this record again? Yes.
2. Should you buy this record? Yes.
Link to purchase, if you’re so inclined…