The intimacy of hearing – and seeing – Baba Zula live has lately surpassed the experience of listening to some of their latest studio albums. As time has gone by the songs of Istanbul’s celebrated underground psyche band, seem to get less and less distinguishable from one another. 

In all fairness, Baba Zula has always been against the traditional song per se. In the past they made it a point to play long, meandering instrumental sonic explorations, sometimes accompanied by droning vocals and inarticulate cries, which consciously bucked the trend of the neat three-minute pop song. 

Here we have Baba Zula’s first live studio album, giving the listener an approximation of what a cathartic  live Baba Zula set is like, particularly valuable in this day of Corona virus prohibition on live shows.

The album is called “Hayvan Gibi” which translates as “Like an Animal”, with each song dedicated to a particular animal – an elaboration of Murat Ertel’s long-standing interest in  animal sounds. One thinks about his stated influence by the animals in Istanbul – be they street cats, stray dogs, seagulls or the farm yard animals of an Istanbul gecekondu(semi-rural favela-like slum) dwellings – or by the fact that their last album Derin Derin, grew out of a project in which Baba Zula was supposed to create the music for a documentary on hawks. 

In sum, Hayvan Gibi is good incidental chill-out music, but one longs for the old days a bit, asking oneself where are recognisable songs like Istanbul Cocuklari and Abbreviations

Robert Rigney

TRACK TO TRY Tavus Havasi (Peacock Mood)