2016 / Uzelli Stereo
Review written by Marc Tucker - May 16, 2017
An unabashed progrocker, I’m always on the hunt for new materials in the genre, whether recently issued or unearthed from exotic old archives. Back in the 70s, the radio music scene was pretty much as it is now when it came to rock idiomatics: 95% mainstream crap…with some good stuff leavened in…but then there were the very few and very hours-limited free-form dial positions like KPPC in Pasadena (Calif.). Me and my buddies would head out to Tuna Canyon, just off the Pacific coastline, a nice little wild spot with a stream running through. We’d settle in, drag out the alcohol and other intoxicants, get loaded (but we NEVER inhaled!!), and bliss out to the chiefly European nu-musics wafting through our pre-boombox boombox.
MUCH later, as exposure venues proliferated, came the discovery of old Pacific Rim psych and prog such as ignited Dengue Fever and other moderns, and thus new windows opened for those still adventurous enough to desire such materials…if, that is, no one else knew about it in order that one not be damned as a brainiac, that it didn’t damage career opportunities among the Republicans at work, and if such a level of aesthetics didn’t come across as some form of apostasy from groupthink. Well, that type of stuff is enjoying quite a bit of archaeological exhumation, and Anadolu opens wide the doors to a geography heretofore almost completely unrecognized in the West: the zone reaching from Istanbul to Frankfurt.
Brothers Yavuz and Muammer Uzelli in 1971 embarked on an epic project to document as much of the region’s psychedelic and other musics as possible. They succeeded magnificently, ending up with more than 1,000 albums from nearly 500 artists: psych, prog, folk, rock, etc. ‘Anadolu’ is the term for the psychedelic music emerging from the Anatolian peninsula/plateau in Turkey, and everything in this disc is 100% in-genre, featuring a good deal of stunning musics from way back when, and what few cuts there are which are not head-churning are extremely satisfying regardless. Psych fanatix and prog-hedz are going to be delighted with the array of bands and cuts.
Zor Beyler leads off the collection with “Intro” and “Gozundeki Yaslarina” (“The Tears in Your Eyes”), and aficionados will immediately recognize the Mythos-esque spoken lead-in (the late 60s / early 70s Mythos, not the New Age ensemble – doesn’t anyone do any research before they settle on band names any more??). Little is known of the Zor Beyler group, but it included electric baglama in their Arabesk, pop, fantezi, and Anatolian compositions. Skip forward to Asik Emrah’s “Bu Ellerdan Gocup” and treat yourself to an outrageous…um…well, honestly, I can’t tell if that’s a righteously distorted Ratledge-esque keyboard, a mutated guitar, an electrified oud, or what, but, Jesus!, is that guy wailing (though the 12-page booklet contains xlnt background data, not all bands are covered, this one of them, due to what is likely a complete absence of knowledge anywhere, so I cannot cite his name)! The plectrum sounds in portions of the attack phase of a number of envelopes there indicate a stringed instrument, but elsewhere, the axe appears also to morph into a ney or shenai. Excellent bass and percussive work provide a platform for the smooth and dizzying flight of the passage, and, had this appeared in Europe in its day, Nektar, Brainticket, and various other prog ensembles would've been sweating.
Anadolu is a treasure trove, a gift from the Earth goddess, a necklace of echoes from muses of decades past, a 10-cut antiquarian gift to the present lest we become too hubristic about the estate of modern exotica. Yes, we’ve much to beam about from Gen X forward, but CDs like this one remind us there were forebears, that the market was less than kind to most of them, and that technology and exposure platforms have now provided the means by which we can cast our nets backwards and become a tad humbler, remembering fresh springs existed in long forgotten valleys.