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Hayvanlar Alemi – Psychedelia in Times of Turbulence

Hayvanlar Alemi
Psychedelia in Times of Turbulence
by Mark Machlay at 07 April 2020, 7:35 AM

In the world of instrumental progressive music, there tends to be two types of bands: those that choose to create a structure and melody, essentially creating a normal song but simply having another instrument stand in for the vocalists melody or those that choose to have at least something of a structure but emphasizes a mood or atmosphere that they choose to occupy for the entirety of their pieces. Bands in the former are those such as LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT or POLYPHIA, while bands in the latter are those like RUSSIAN CIRCLE or BATTLES. HAYVANLAR ALEMI – which when directly translated to English means “The World of Animals” straddles both worlds to a certain extent but they tend to sit with a feeling for an entire song, so could be less structured but if one was to give them a second listen or two, a structure could be discerned of nearly all of their recent pieces.

Founded in Ankara, Turkey in 1999, this instrumental psychedelic progressive folk rock band has been quietly developing a style all their own. They incorporate a wide array of styles from their musical heritage of Turkey as well as elements of progressive rock, surf, stoner and doom rock mixed with scales and rhythms of Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East. The band’s initial sound was very experimental, tending towards a lot of free improvisation, including folk instruments with a theatrical approach. Around the mid-2000's, the band chose a more traditional rock instrumental approach and moved away from improvisation to a more structured one. At times structured but still having a free improvisation feel, they can be an acquired taste for some.

There latest “Psychedelia in Times of Turbulence” sees them solidifying their sound but tending towards darker and somber timbres without losing the color and vitality. Though the first song “News of the World” opts for a more esoteric and atmospheric introduction much like PINK FLOYD or other 70s and jazz-influenced bands would do. Yet, following that, “Referendum Day” welcomes a more doom-y vibe with slow, distorted, drone and drawn out chords. It has an ominous air punctuated by otherworldly sound effects and phaser-drenched guitar lines. “Kukonmaz MMXVII” continues that vibe but infusing it with a Middle Eastern sounding guitar line, almost sounding like a sitar. “Aden” bounces along with an almost 007 secret agent, curious and mysterious guitar riff but unfortunately dissolves into some rather sloppy improvisation. It’s a jazzy little interlude before things get really heavy. “Thundercloud Museum” is a very apt title for a more sludgy, effect-soaked guitar signal with erratic and arrhythmic riffs. Muted bass brings more sludge to the track giving way to an ambient guitar and frankly, meandering improvisation. “Kaos Sembolue Guene ve Bahar” introduces a shoegaze or post-metal element to their sound I haven’t heard before. While closer “Swans of St. Aarus” is full-on BLACK SABBATH stoner/doom metal once it builds up momentum half way through.

Long-form improvisation is gone by this album and if you’re looking for truly experimental, avant-garde rock, the band has evolved and decided to implement a welcoming structure to their sound. Previously leaning on exotic scales, instruments and other elements, they have become more coherent on this release. The improvisation moments are short but personally leave me wanting. They seem heavily first-take worthy and probably would have been good to give it another cleaner pass. But the repetition and melodies are extremely catchy and are easy to get stuck in your head long after you’ve listened. Highly memorable but leaves me wanting in the musicianship category.

 Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 6
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. News of the World
2. Referendum Day
3. Kukonmaz MMXVII
4. Aden
5. Thundercloud Museum
6. Kaos Sembolue Guene ve Bahar
7. Swans of St. Aarhus
Lineup:
Ozum Itez – Guitar
Isik Sarihan – Drums and Percussion
Hazar Mutgan – Bass
Gokece Basar - Guitar
Record Label: Subsound Records
     


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Edited 02 December 2020
 

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