One Friday not long ago I met with Ero Behrić and Alen Hebilović – two erstwhile figures in Berlin’s Balkan party scene –  in a Turkish café on Oranien Straße, half an hour before cuma – Friday prayers – at the Bosnian mosque on Adalbert Straße near Kotti. They always had cuma at two o’clock at the Bosnian mosque, which was a convenient thing for ...

The new Balkan sound departs from the clean, straight, beat-laden Balkan club tracks of yore, insofar as the new stuff is looser, fuzzier, deeper, more distorted, less distinct - subtler even, trafficking less in Balkan clichés. “Ethno psychedelia”, you could call it.  Balkan Taksim group members Sașa-Liviu Stoianovici and Alin Zăbrăuțeanu have known each other for more than a decade, ...

I still remember the time when I first visited the HQ of Philophon Records in Berlin. Situated on the top floor of an old industrial building in Kreuzberg, the place where all the Philophon magic was happening got introduced to me; a beautiful, cozy space with carpets and plants, filled with an impressive collection of old and modern studio technology, ...

There are two Turkish worlds in Germany today. The first – the world of the old Turkish Gastarbeiter, ex-guest-workers who came to fuel the German Wirtschaftswunder, and who, for whatever reason, never left. They congregate in enigmatic, featureless Turkish social clubs and cafes, sipping tea and playing tavla (backgammon) while rehashing the politics of exile under framed portraits of Atatürk or Erdoğan ...

It’s a nice thing to be able to walk through the streets of a Turkish neighborhood and not have people stare at you all the time or mob you for autographs. David Bowie must have felt this way in Berlin in the seventies, alone and anonymous for a change – a bit like Ceza, (pronounced “Jeza”, and meaning “punishment”), the ...

Berlin is a swamp: literally, figuratively, and etymologically (Brlo - old Slavic for swamp). It will suck you down if you are not careful - and sometimes you just need to escape to save your soul.  I have been plotting my escape for a while now, even without knowing it. Sometimes I think Belgrade would be a nice place to get ...

At five in the morning a wailing comes up from the valley below as one mosque after another broadcasts the call to prayer, a coagulating chorus joining up together in one unified lament – Allāhu akbar,  Allah, Ash-hadu an-lā ilāha illā allāh, Ash-hadu anna Mohamadan-Rasul ullāh……  It is weird and unearthly, and as I lay in my bed,  listening to this otherworldly ululation coming ...

Derya Yıldırım takes the stage at a packed house in Berlin’s Gretchen club one night in November 2019. “It feels like a home-crowd tonight,” she says before launching into her hit, Nem Kaldı (“A Song”) by Aşık Mahzuni Şerif, featuring frenetic saz cut through by wah-wah guitar arpeggios and Doors-like organ riffs. The music verges between joy and sadness, offers something close ...

FIVE-MAN LA CARAVANE PASSE, led by multi-instrumentalist, multi-linguist Toma Feterman, returns with Nomadic Spirit, their sixth album, a dizzily euphoric, Babylonian  mix of Balkan Gypsy, flamenco, hip-hop, gnawa and Oriental excursions. As with the previous albums, a burlesque mood pervades these eleven very different songs. Toma Feterman sings in Parigot French with a liberal dose of English and some Spanish and Serbo-Croatian ...

There is something rather tongue-in-cheek about the very idea of Sufi Dub Brothers. How else to imagine bass heavy dub electronica juxtaposed with classical sitar raga - the sedentary formality of the sitar with club cool techno beats.  The irony flows right from the outset with a melodious lilting voice intoning “The Sufi Dub Brothers gettin’ down,” over a serious ...

Jalaluddin Gerd Rebler, Chairman of the Royal Ottoman Society in Ludwigshafen, is dead at 74. Rebler’s ambition was to unite Sufi Islam with high German culture, working towards a  sense of spiritual renewal, which he felt was much lacking in today’s Germany. He died on 27 December, leaving behind a wife and two stepchildren and having touched countless individuals with his ...

A boy cries out in Dari, exulting over the body of a dead soldier, followed by rapid snare drums approximating gunfire. So begins Kabul Fire 2, Farhot’s second album to date, which he describes as a “voyage to (Afghanistan) my country of origin.” Kabul Fire 2 artfully blends deftly crafted beats, piano playing, Afghani folkloristic samples with vocal clips culled from ...

With club life coming to a grinding halt in 2020, radio has regained some of its importance. This might be one reason why over the last year the small internet radio station THF radio grew from a one-off affair into a regular program that is now streaming from Wednesday to Sunday. With an impressive variety of themes and hosts, THF ...