These nine weirdly wonderful tracks put out by Bongo Joe of Azerbaijani guitar legend Rüstəm Quliyev (1969-2005) spanning the length of his career, untimely cut short by lung cancer, can sound by turns bluesy, redolent of western surf guitar or guitar-hero riffing, as in Tancor Disco. More often, however, Quliyev’s gnarled and twisted guitar playing gives expression to a kind of homegrown and idiosyncratic Oriental rock & roll, where preference is ceded to eastern modes (giving nods to classic saz pieces from the bardic aşıq tradition)rather than slavishly copying Western pop and rock.
Key to Quliyev’s incredible sonic palette is his “Jolana” Czech- made electric guitar with strings elevated between the bridge and end-pin of the hollow- body guitar allowing Quliyev to bend the strings with his wrist while playing, altering the tuning by quarter tones. Here we have a mellifluous improvised style of playing, full of microtonal quiverings, set off against a kind of a keyboard drone or loping Oriental disco beat interspersed with arabesque flourishes – as in Yanıq Kərəmi. Quliyev’s musical world is elusive, rich and tantalizing. Evidently he was one of a slew of Azerbaijani guitar wizards operating in a similar vein. One wishes to know more about this forgotten entry in the annals of global rock and roll.