Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Tarentel and Alps member Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Turkish rock band Hayvanlar Alemi.
Listed: Jefre Cantu-Ledesma + Hayvanlar Alemi
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is the co-founder of the excellent Root Strata label and plays in the bands Tarentel and Alps. But he’s also a solo artist, and recently released Love is a Stream, a sprawling tapestry of rich drones on the Type label. For his Listed this week, Cantu-Ledesma pays homage to a departed friend.
Back in 2006, Jack Rose composed a Listed for Dusted that included Z.M. Dagar’s Rudra Veena masterpiece Raga Yaman. I was instantly intrigued by Rose’s description and promptly tracked it down. Indeed, it not only became an all-time favorite of mine, but it also started me on the long and winding path of a novice lover of Indian Classical music. A few years ago, Tarentel shared a bill with Rose and I had the chance to thank him for the suggestion and we had a brief exchange about our love for the recording and for Indian Classical music in general. This list is a very big thank you to you, Jack, may you rest in peace.
1. H. Sayeeduddin Dagar (Vocal) - Chant Dhrupad à Vézelay
Double CD set with four ragas beautifully recorded live in Vezelay Basilica in France. The alap section of the first raga, Bhopali, which alone runs for half an hour, is just sublime. Sayeeduddin Dagar’s voice is a rare combination of quite genteelness and cosmic power. His lows are guttural and his peaks are like mountain tops. Go out of your way to watch the whole performance on YouTube.
2. Uday Bhawalkar (Vocal) - Raga Bihag
Bhawalkar is one of the current young ambassadors of the Dagar family, having studied with both Z. F. & Z. M. Dagar. His vocal tone is lush and his ability to hold notes for what seems like an eternity is impressive. This is a lovely hi-fi recording that serves as a great introduction to his work.
3. Bahauddin Dagar (Rudra Veena) - Ragini Todi
Everything you would expect from Z. M. Dagar’s son: The slow burn alap, thundering low notes and that Rudra Veena sound that just puts you in the zone.
4. Brij Bhushan Kabra (Guitar) - Indian Slide Guitar
Thanks to my buddy Greg Davis for turning me on to this one. This recording is unique in that it’s only the alap of Raga Puriya, with none of the later faster paced sections included. Although things do pick up a bit on side two, the lack of drums give it a pretty spacious feeling throughout. This is a sunset raga, and he hits that vibe perfectly.
5. Imrat Khan (Surbahar) - Raga Marwa
Imrat Khan gives a beautiful rendition of another sunset Raga, Marwa on this disc. Although he often plays the sitar, it’s his performances on the surbahar (sometimes called the bass sitar) that I find myself searching out. Its lower range and overall mellower tone make it a little more pleasing to my ear than that of its famous cousin.
6. Sultan Khan (Sarangi) - Raga Du Debut De La Nuit
A masterpiece rendition of the evening Raga, Yaman. The Sarangi is a bowed instrument with over 40 strings played with the tops of the fingernails. Its sound falls somewhere between a violin and the singing human voice. This is the kinda stuff I wanna hear when I die.
7. Gundecha Brothers & Udhay Bhawalkar (Vocal) - Timeless Dhrupads
Bhawalkar joins Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha, brother Dhrupad singers, for a blissed out rendition of Raga Yaman. The three intertwine their voices into laser beams aimed straight for your Ajna Chakra.
8. In Between the Notes: A Portrait of Pandit Pran Nath (Vocal)
Amazing DVD from 2009 documenting a 1985 trip to India with Pandit Pran Nath and his then students Terry Reily, La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela. Easy to find and totally worth your time.
9. Shivkumar Sharma & Hariprasad Chaurasia (Santoor & Bansuri) - Yugal Bundi
The santoor is a type of hammered dulcimer and the bansuri is an Indian bamboo flute. Although both of these musicians have recorded a number of records as solo artists and in other duo settings, something about their connection here and the way these two instruments sound together is just so right. My go to Sunday morning record.
10. La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela (Tamburas) - Tamburas of Pandit Pran Nath
OK, so not a raga per se, but still can take you there if you let it. More like sculpture, really. If over an hour of two tamburas playing the same tempo sounds boring to you then by all means steer clear. Otherwise dive in.
If someone were to distill all of the disparate influential elements of the Sublime Frequencies label into one band, Hayvanlar Alemi would be the result. That any one band can mix elements of Turkish psychedelia, with Cambodian, surf and avant-punk is quite a feat. After a string of releases on CD and MP3, Hayvanlar recently released their first vinyl LP, Guarana Superpower, on Sublime Frequencies. Ozum Itez (electric guitar) and Isik Sarihan (percussion) took part in this week’s Listed.
1. ZeN– Bakırköy Akıl Hastanesi’nde
ZeN was probably the first truly experimental band in Turkey, emerging during the early 1990s, and the country has seen nothing as extraordinary as them ever since they morphed into the avant-folk band Baba Zula in the late ‘90s (which is also great.) This is their final album, recorded live in a mental hospital. 100 percent free improvisation was their principle, even though it’s hard to tell for those who don’t know.
2. Nekropsi – Mi Kubbesi
Another early creative effort in Turkey was this album by Nekropsi, a band that turned to a very dark and moody oriental prog-rock from speed metal. The metal roots are there to hear, which makes the album quite unique, and which made it easy for metalhead teenagers like us to get into it.
3. Replikas– Dadaruhi
Replikas is another Turkish psych band that has been a pioneer in stepping into many taboo areas. We used to go to their shows as if they were pilgrimages, surrendering to their Anatolian Rock, IDM, Krautrock, post-punk, Sufi and Dada mixture. Their more recent albums might be stronger, but this one came out at a time, in 2002, when our brains were younger and ready to be poisoned. The influence of the darker side of the late ‘90s - early ‘00s Turkish psyche is quite apparent in our 2006 album, Gaga.
4. Sun City Girls – 330,003 Crossdressers from Beyond the Rig Veda
The Girls are notoriously hard to define. Let’s just say for now that they are a melting pot of vultures. Everything they’ve done is inspiring, but this one is special because of all the directions it presents to explore, particularly in the Asian and African continents.
5. Neung Phak – Neung Phak
This album by Neung Phak, a side band of Mono Pause and Mark Gergis, was another piece of high art that got us interested in the music of Southeast Asia. Most of the tracks are covers of popsy tunes from all over the region. Catchy. Sounds great.
6. V/A – Indonesian Guitars
For a music explorer, it’s not impossible to jump from American avant-garde bands to Indonesian folk to Honolulu stuff. This mesmerizing collection by Smithsonian Folkways is one of the steps in between, documenting many unique genres of guitar-led music from Indonesia, some of them with an obvious Hawaiian influence.
7. V/A – Cambodian Cassette Archives
A collection by Sublime Frequencies, and like most other things that they put out, it tells you that you’ve been missing out. Its effect on us should be quite obvious, as we’ve covered the opening track “Blue Basket” (under the Turkish translation “Mavi Sepet”) in our Guarana Superpower, which – what a divine coincidence – also recently came out on Sublime Frequencies.
8. V/A – Spaghetti and Chili Western – A Collection of Western Intros
There isn’t much deep to say about surf rock. After all, it’s all about surfing the surface. It’s cool. It’s the kind of thing that makes you feel good when you listen to it, or play it. It’s like a good friend you can always rely on, and you should always have some around. This rather obscure collection is what we have in the car.
9. Scientist - Rids the World of the Curse of the Vampire
Dub is another thing that you can always rely on. Unlike many bands with a rock setup, we were lucky to discover and explore it (as most clearly heard on our downloadable CD-R Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara). This one by Scientist was one of our early discoveries and remains a favorite.
10. Pink Floyd – Umma Gumma
Hayvanlar Alemi wouldn’t exist as it is if early psychedelia never happened. Pink Floyd’s Umma Gumma was one of our first encounters with open-minded, open-ended psych. Classical rock was more or less what you got as a teenager in the Ankara of the 1990s, and Pink Floyd was one of those bands that turned us into professional music consumers, along with those like Queen, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, which we cherish and love to this day, and which makes us a rock band at the end of the day.
By Dusted Magazine