Every once in a while, an artist pours in their heart & soul on a particular piece of musical literature to help it stand the fickle test of time. The next release on Wind Horse Records is as special to the label itself as it is to Hamza - a producer whose aural boundaries have no end. The label’s motivator and driving force decided to step up to the plate with an LP that’s been inspired by his travels to the mystical and spiritual land of the Ottomans. The 10-track offering has been created using samples/instruments that are unique to Turkey and reflect Hamza’s artistic prowess to spin aural fables by weaving different tapestries made up of the fabrics of indigenous sounds.
We dive right into the album with the first track “Afro Turk”. Right off the bat, one can easily recognize the flavor of a Hamza original as the tune begins with the organic medley of a kick drum, the strum of both a stringed and a tabla-esque instrument that set-up the mood of what’s to follow. A rumbling bassline follows the opening verse as the track takes off in riotous fashion. Stabs of quirky-vocal, drop in every now and then to add to the “Middle-Eastern” mood. As the break-down arrives, hair-raising stringed melodies transport the listener into Hamza’s sonic playground with ease and panache. The mesmeric intermission also has samples of a cycle bell along with dialogues from the local dialect that lend Afro Turk its identity. If there was ever a way to get anyone hooked to an LP right from the get-go, then that'd be it!
The next offering on the album “Raasta Turk'' goes all-folk with traditional rhythms and percussion that can definitely dispel energy onto any dance-floor. As an artist Hamza is always capable of pulling off the unexpected and as the track welcomes deliciously a construed synth that oozes and bubbles its way into your very soul. Accompanied ably by fleeting piano stabs and carefully curated notes from a variation of the flute, the entire track meanders between sonically scenic highs and rhythmic low ends that probably will give a club sound-system a proper run for its money, while also maintaining the connection with the land that it was inspired by.
“Thar”, the third track on the Turkey series is all business when it comes to esoteric dance music. A groove-laden beginning quickly gives way to a hypnotic and rapturous breakdown that consists of a cacophony of ancient Turkish musical instruments that almost seem to announce the track’s arrival. Extremely intelligently designed atmospherics help turn up the haze on a track that’s inspired by the shifting sands of a desert. Gorgeous notes from the Turkish flute dominate the second breakdown as well, transporting the listeners to a world away from their own, pretty effortlessly. The final element that gets added to the tune is a clever loop from a mouth harp that nestles in nicely with the rest of the elements to ensure the essence of the track always remains.
Hamza goes deliciously deep for the next tune - “Kayi Love”, a track that refuses to let up the frenzied energy that the album has helped build-up to so far. More electronic than organic, the track begins with a simple yet punchy bassline that b2b’s extremely well with the drum patterns on offer. Coupled with traditional melodic loops and snappy percussion and a dubtastic mood, that track has a more modernistic approach to house music in the year 2020. Lush synth overtones and harmonics accompany the cascade of ethnic sounds to help craft a divine vibe that can easily overwhelm or move any dance-floor. “Kayi Love” also illustrates Hamza’s soulful side, lending the listener an insight into the mind of the producer and the emotions he wants to translate.
Expert more dub-inspired dances to follow with the eclectic composition “Sultan Qunan”, a lavishly construed deep house track that’s destined to be a favorite among favorites in this LP. A relatively straightforward 4X4 comes to life with an uplifting and soothing pad that teleports the listener into a cosmic realm that’s inescapably awesome. The breakdown however, is certain to blow your mind to bits. Hamza’s legacy and musical heritage are in full view as the breakdown almost sounds like a different track itself, akin to what one would hear in the courts of ottoman emperors and rulers from days past. Stringed instruments, uplifting vocals, hypnotic atmospherics and mystical vocals combine themselves in a vibrant aural pot-pourri that will certainly sweep any electronic music lover off their feet!
We now traverse into the second half of the LP with ‘Gypsy Travels’, a fast-paced, no-nonsense track that’s all about the dance that’s been produced for those peak-time club sessions. Intelligently arranged elements and stabs add to the build-up of a song that’s going to find itself being played on many sound systems. A powerful, rolling bassline considers itself to be the focal point of the original and also the driving force of the track. Using the same techniques as the other tracks in the album so far, Hamza delivers yet another bomb that’s riddled with overlapping textures and sounds that syncopate wonderfully with each other. This Chicago-Detroit house inspired gem with Turkish influences proves Hamza’s genius and ability to deliver high-quality electronic music.
If anything, ‘Sufi Soul’ - the seventh project on the LP goes left-field with amazing ease and finesse. A busy kick/percussion section at the beginning of the track helps set expectations for what’s to come, and Hamza as usual never disappoints. Retaining a festive vibe throughout, the tune is composed of eclectically chosen vocals and musical samples. These are interspersed by spine-tingling FX and Turkish flute solos that once again point out the geographic inspirations for the entire album. Ethereal and spiritual at its core, Sufi Soul most certainly will find its way into the dreamy after hour shindigs and intimate closed room parties. Aural hypnotism at its best!
Moving on, ‘Butterfly Ney’ brings in the latter part of the Turkey LP and can be most eloquently described as another emotive groover. A crisp, yet effective kick-drum marries a subtle, deep bassline and a yummy pad that prefers to be frequently fleeting. The triad eventually gives way to yet another masterfully sculpted breakdown that has added elements of piano keys, the ever-present Turkish flute, and samples of tabla beats to mirror its Turkish roots. The second half of the track is stripped down to begin with but picks up again to match the fervor and zest of the first half, to bring home yet another simple yet effective dance music tune.
‘Temple’ signals the penultimate track of the album that begins another organically derived drum arrangement with tight percussive arrangements. Staying true to its name, the hook for ‘temple’ comes from the Turkish flute yet again, giving it a majestic and mystical aura. The track builds up to the breakdown in the same vein where elements of spiritual instruments bring a higher degree of hypnotism to the track overall. The melancholic mood of the track also showcases Hamza’s diverse and versatile range as a music producer.
‘Ego Invader’ wraps up the LP in scintillating style and is probably the most experimental of all tracks on offer. An intricate arrangement of drums, percussion that includes cowbells and the amazing tabla once more greet the listener. A growling yet subby bassline unveils itself next with a superlative vocal sample that would come as a pleasant surprise to most. The original build up once more to a crescendo before a magnificently magical breakdown displays Hamza’s artistry in all its glory once again.
Thus, by weaving Turkish musical inspirations and sounds with their Indian counterparts, Banjara Series (Turkey) LP by Hamza is certainly one of his most accomplished works.
Wind Horse Records was started in August 2009 as India’s First House Music Label out of New Delhi. Our goal was to create a
platform through which we could showcase the sound of some of India’s New Up and Coming Producers and Some well-known World Music Artists that wanted to collaborate and take their sounds to the dance floors....more