Indian summer it is called in the Western World but I love our version better, “pastrami summer”; it’s spicy, juicy, sticky and warm. It’s a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather at the end of autumn; just before the summer gives into autumn.
As Heinrich Heine has said “When words leave off, music begins.” And that is what we face in the new album of Kolektif İstanbul called “Pastırma Yazı” (pastrami summer). A collective nascency of musical souls.
The music of the group has succeeded to bind people from different social backgrounds as well as different musical styles and genres together in a unifying cultural universe. It’s a pot of Anatolian, Balkan fanfare, Jazz, Funk and Bretagne folk rhythms. Coming together and stronger for the last ten years.
The new album “Pastırma Yazı” is the recent stop of a ten years journey that started off as a project and ended up as a binding collective frame. Listeners are swayed to faraway lands and into an inner realm of rhapsodically fused joy.
Thrace knocks on the door of Balkans and vice versa. The music milieu is mashed and processed into a meeting point that easily gets beyond the borders. Capturing the essence of rhythms that kick-starts the soul on an immediate basis or slowly building up the tempo. You can experience the sustainable progress of the musical evolution of the band through the years and “Pastırma Yazı” is a bold show off of this responsible blast. The new album serves up 13 new recordings. There are a couple of feel-good standards here that will entertain crowds and let them fall of their stools. But it’s the new originals that demand attention here. These include Anatolian – Balkan brass standards that fits seamlessly into the band’s repertoire and sound like they could have existed in the Balkans since forever.
Especially the extremely ala-turca version of the famous French L’ete Indien chanson is the highlight of the album in a very lubricous way. The name was mutated into “Pastırma Yazı.” But my favorite is the first single “Acımadı Yine” (It didn’t hurt again) crowned with the beautiful lyrics of Ceylan Ertem. It’s originally a Bulgarian folk rhythm that just cannot be restrained with the wand of the group. Get ready to experience the first ever French lyrics from the group on an official record, it sound tremendously joyous. “Kalpazan havası” is a respectful lament for the late great Selim Sesler. Another highlight of mine is the hidden track, the closure called ‘Gayda’ the lengthiest of them all. It’s an amalgam of all the regions unified into one flow of energizer. Reminding us that we feed from various traditions but at the end we are the same.
Koleftif İstanbul made some great studio albums but their concerts are extraordinary. They know how to be manipulated by their crowd and feed the improvisation beasts in themselves. Richard with his passion for brass, the angelic voice of Aslı and the energy dosage of the rest of the gang that never settles down winks at the creative mayhem surrounding them. The gang never let the audience forget that each of the members was a brilliant instrumentalist and that they have an enormous range – from wild free jazz to strict liturgical choral traditions. Gayda (bagpipes), clarinet, saxophone, accordion, tuba, percussions, and drums are all valid and dominant in a hierarchical level.
In a world where creativity on a musical level loses its mojo very frequently and cannot revive itself, Kolektif İstanbul manage to sound as fresh as ever. This Anatolian-Balkan party will surely seines the recent gloomy days our colorful city has been going through.