BaBa ZuLa – Derin Derin

Album Review | Glitterbeat Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

Derin Derin is the first studio album in five years for Istanbul’s art house ensemble BaBa ZuLa, whose expressive and expansive sound dominates this ten-track release. If sections of the album sound akin to film soundtrack music, then this is possibly due to the fact that some of it was originally conceived as music for a documentary about birds of prey. Having been around for a good twenty years now, BaBa ZuLu have the chops to sound authentic and utterly contemporary at the same time. So determined to create an authentic air, the band posed for a sleeve photograph, using an early photographic technique, evoking the spirit of their forefathers.

The four musicians, Osman Murat Ertel, Mehmet Levent Akman, Periklis Tsoukalas and Umit Adakale, may look like roadies for System of a Down, but their contemporary rhythms are steeped in Turkish traditional music, with the electric saz coming to the fore in places, along with the classical oud. At times those two instruments sound deliciously vibrant together, “Haller Yollar” and “Ruzgarin Akisi” for instance, but for such tracks as “Kurt Kapma” and “Port Pass”, it could be an entirely different band, utilising sound effects, samples and programmed beats. “Salincaksin” or “U are the Swing” has a particular emphasis on the beats, played by Ertel’s children on a kit modified by the late Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit, who the band had connections with. Despite being vocally uninspiring, instrumentally BaBa ZuLa is both an adventurous and enigmatic band in equal measure.