The trippiest jazz rock experience of the year.
Compro Oro are a Belgian psychedelic jazz collective already known for their crazy music so when they teamed up with Murat Ertel from Instanbul based psyche-folk band Baba Zula and his singing partner Esma Ertel – you know something bizarre will be taking place. The reason I checked the album out was that the chance meeting between the trio through live performance saw them hit the studio with Dijf Sanders. I am a huge fan of his work and so this all seemed like a melting pot too good to miss.
‘Simurg’ is best described as a flow of musical consciousness. The overall sound is of Turkish psychedelia and is led with guitars, rolling rhythms, crazy percussion and strange vocal samples. Sometimes it is quite melodic such as the open plains of ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’, where the guitar lilts and wanes like a musical siren. ‘Ben’ is a tribute to psyche-rock with some stunning guitar and vibraphone work as they interplay with each other through Middle Eastern melodies. Other areas point to expressive percussive moments such as ‘Ara’ or experimental noise such as ‘Murmur’. Always a constant is a flowing rhythmic throb. It reminds me of when I’ve taken part in drum circles or relaxation exercises to numb or calm the mind into a zen trance. It makes the entire album feel hypnotic so that all the other noises and weird sounds wash over you.
The album has a five track centrepiece around valleys where the expressive psyche-jazz really kicks in. It is as if this section is its own suite inside the album which is pretty cool. Opening with ‘Valley of Extinction’, we are treated to raspy synths bending and blurring over jangly bossa nova beats and jamming guitars. ‘Valley of Love’ then turns into a slinky snake-like brood of whispers, frame drums and curious guitar noodling. ‘Valley of Disbelief’ moves towards a ska beat with the vibraphone and stilted vocals creating a disorientating vibe. All the instruments fall away apart from the vibraphone and vocals for ‘Valley of Loneliness’ where spoken word takes over for a poetic soundscape. ‘Valley of Ego’ then concludes the section with a slow jam that feels like a Turkish psychedelia take on synth-noire. Its percussive, drifty and spacious, as if we are exiting stage left. The album then closes with the bonkers ‘Kaf Mountain’. This is a frame drum, vocal and vibraphone expressive passion piece. Starting off hushed, the track lets the vibraphone flow any direction it wants as the mallets tinkle all of the notes in a free-flowing sprawl. It reminds me a little of Evelyn Glennie and some of her more avant-garde work.
One of the most distinctive sounding albums of 2020, Compro Oro, Murat Ertel and Esma Ertel can all be very pleased with how much of a clear jam this was. The album has a ritualesque experience to it as if you are being taken on a strange journey. It doesn’t really do usual song structures nor does it have any hooks or motifs. It is more like Compro Oro are expressing feelings and jamming thorough them with the Ertels. This is probably how ayahuasca sounds like!
Recommended track: Ignorance is Bliss (Valley of Ignorance)
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