Music Recommendations, Essential And Obscure: Orient Expressions

I was listening to the Buddha-Bar 8 compilation, not a bad double CD to have, and one particular track really grabbed my attention. 'Istanbul 1:26 a.m." by Orient Expressions is a dramatic contrast of chilled dub and raging, Middle-East percussion. The rhythms are live, complex, and varied. I was intrigued.

Orient Expressions are not well documented in Discogs.com, so I fell back on Google and Amazon and eventually came up with their Turkish label, Doublemoon. While many artists and labels are satisfied to sample and loop global sounds into manufactured music that has no basis in art or tradition, I was fascinated and impressed with Doublemoon's apparent dedication to tradition and evolution. I found a Turkish seller on Ebay who had most of the Doublemoon catalog for fair prices and shipping rates and tonight there were six Turkish CD's in my mailbox; Three by Orient Expressions.

I'm listening to 'Divan' as I write this, and it's consistent with my initial expectations and impressions from 'Istanbul 1:26 a.m.'. Electronics provide subtle atmosphere and foundation for a very organic performance on a variety traditional string and percussion instruments. The one misfit track is a jazzy English vocal track at the end of the CD. It's not entirely inconsistent or unwelcome, but surprising. Overall I love the CD and am glad to have made the effort to track it down.

The other discs in this purchase are:
Orient Expressions, 'Hirsiz Polis'
Orient Expressions and Sabahat Akkiraz, 'Kulliyat'
Baba Zula, 'Duble Oryantal' (Sexiest cover ever!)
Mercan Dede, 'Seyahatname'
Various, 'East 2 West, Crossing Continents'

Probably no write-up for these, but 'Kulliyat' and 'Duble Oryantal' are shaping up well.

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