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Isik Kural

In February

    Isik Kural works like a photographer of sound, documenting the passing and returning of time as if material snapshots of life’s temporality. Across the album’s twelve songs, each composed from chance loops and cocooned within the soft container of Isik’s memorable voice and melody play, time is held on to hopefully, impossibly, eternally.

    Born in Istanbul, Isik studied music engineering at the University of Miami, alighted in New York City, and eventually settled in Glasgow, immersing in a sound design masters and audiovisual practice. While these paths guided him between different projects and cities, a voice was simultaneously growing inside the artist, informed by a vision of the world in its everyday luminosity. This voice was expressed in the lyrical and instrumental waves of 2019's As Flurries, a cassette collection for Italian label Almost Halloween Records.

    It was during a brief trip home to Istanbul in 2019 that the invisible details of in february were first exposed. While assisting on a session at his old haunt Babajim Recording Studios, Isik happened upon a beautiful piano, the kind “in which you hear a melody with the touch of a single note.” A looped segment from a recording of improvised tinkering on the instrument formed the basis “pillow of a thought,” which christens Isik’s new album. A bed for a passing notion, image, moment.

    Adopting this novel way of working, Isik produced another twelve passages made from loops of unexpected recordings, nothing over three minutes. Eschewing both compositional plans and live performance proclivities, which had informed previous creative explorations, Isik sought a more instantaneous effect. Minute nylon string refrains, lilting synthesizer hums, and a scrap of a chamber recital are collaged with sympathetic verse and synesthetic details captured around Glasgow and activated at Green Door Studios.

    Literary images also accompany the sensory of in february, weaving wanderlust symbolism through these spiraling studio and field documents. At the center of the album, “lo si aspetta” and “che si aspetta,” are titled after a telling line from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Long Road of Sand. Other word works are yoked to this promise. A verse by Turkish poet Gulten Akin, which connects the weather to lost friendship, meets a translation of Sophokles by Anne Carson in “yeniden,” one of three collaborations with vocalist Stephanie Roxanne Ward, pka spefy, on in February.

    Isik treads lightly between the streams of poetry, sound and photography across in february, together impressing an imagistic lightness and immediacy. Although quick as the blink of a camera’s eye or the brush of two hands in passing, the brevity of these works should not be taken for granted: they whisper into each other with elaborate detail, intuitively papered over old and new stories of love and longing.



    TRACK LISTING

    01. Pillow Of A Thought
    02. Simdi Iki
    03. Paperhat
    04. Pineapples And Lime
    05. Hopefullyhopefully
    06. Coral Gables (feat. Spefy)
    07. Lo Si Aspetta
    08. Che Si Aspetta
    09. Sevdiklerine
    10. Yeniden (feat. Spefy)
    11. Berceuse (feat. Spefy)
    12. Slippin
    13. Film Festival

    Mikael Seifu’s 'Zelalem' is an ode to - and a fearless break from - the storied lineage of Ethiopian music. The literal Amharic translation of Zelalem is “eternity,” and through Seifu’s conceptual frame it becomes a “vector of light.” Seifu shines this light on the music of his home country while guiding us through an uncharted “Ethiopiyawi Electronic” - a coinage Seifu uses to describe the music he and his peers are producing in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis-Ababa.

    Illuminating the rich sounds of Addis-Ababa’s azmaris, Seifu’s music becomes a “dream brew” in which these traditional musicians collaborate and contribute vocals and lead voicings from folk instruments such as the Masenko and the Krar. Seifu was educated at the Lycée Guebre-Mariam in Addis-Ababa. The French academy’s international group of students was Seifu’s first exposure to a world outside Ethiopia; his second was at Ramapo College in suburban New Jersey.

    Here Seifu met a mentor in Ben Neill, the composer and music technologist who trained with La Monte Young. Seifu was inspired by Neil to take serious his calling in music. A calling of a different, spiritual nature brought Mikael back to Ethiopia. As a repatriated young man in Addis-Ababa, Seifu felt a renewed sense of allegiance to his home country and allowed its ubiquitous music to guide his creations. Seifu’s early work was shared across a string of EPs for stalwart Washington DC imprint 1432 R, demonstrating an interplay of regional folk music and international electronic music. Mikael’s music does not westernize or electronicize extant Ethiopian music. Instead, Seifu uses Ethio-jazz’s spirit of brewing estranged styles for his own musical tincturing. Seifu’s passion above all else is to create something befitting of its time, yet “eternally Ethiopian.” The latter phrase was the mantra guiding Seifu through the creation of Zelalem, and a source of inspiration for the cover artwork. Zelalem spotlights the music of Ethiopia’s past as well its future. Mikael Seifu illustrates the potential for reinterpreting sacred and proud sources through energized palettes. His latest effort heralds the future of this new music and signals the genesis of Ethiopian Electronic, where the known and unknown commune.


    TRACK LISTING

    1.The Protectors
    2.The Solipsist
    3. Soul Manifest (Mikael Seifu Feat. LA)
    4. How To Save A Life (Vector Of Eternity)
    5. ዘላለም (Vector Of Light)


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