Strap in and get ready for the next instalment of the #GETTOKNOW series which invites you to learn a little more about the lesser known bands playing at the festival this year. Follow the series through our social media and newsletter for insights into some of the best music you haven’t heard yet.
Next up in the series, take a trip into the weird and wonderful world of Turkish psychedelia with BaBa ZuLa.
Written by our in-house hero, Matt Hacke.
A national love affair with psychedelic rock is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Turkey.
Yet, the British summer of love and the hallucinogenic output of acts such as Pink Floyd and Small Faces was of tremendous influence across the Bosphorus, giving inspiration and direction to the burgeoning Anatolian Rock movement.
As per the shamans of Western psychedelia happily borrowed from a smorgasbord of Asian and Mediterranean genres, Turkish musicians found that their traditional folk fit in pretty well with the cutting-edge sounds of the day. Fifty years on, Baba Zula are the end product of this fascinating music tradition.
Led by Murat Ertel on vocals, Baba Zula stretch the psychedelic strands of Turkish rock music to their limits. The five-piece requisition traditional Turkish instruments, repurposing them to fit into rich avant-garde soundscapes. The Saz (or Baglama), a stringed instrument that was first used in pre-Ottoman Turkey, is amped up, producing a piercing high-pitched sound that weaves in with often asynchronous percussion. Ertel’s vocals switch song-by-song between drone-like chanting and staccato shouts, reminding of both traditional Balkan singing styles, and the folk-psychedelia of acts like the Animal Collective.
Baba Zula are not newcomers, and since being founded in 1996, they have released music at a prolific rate. Whilst psychedelia links their back catalogue together, the band has explored dub and reggae too, which comes clear in the extensive use of echo and drum machine in their recorded work. On stage, the five-piece return to their roots, borrowing from Turkish traditions of melodic improvisation and repetition. This bends their music into something utterly unique in each one of their live sets.
Baba Zula are set to release a new album in September 2019, which will see the band continue to push their already esoteric sound to new frontiers. Before then, be mesmerised by their live set at WOMAD.
See the full line-up here.