Wax Poetic


BY Jerry PrattPublished Jan 23, 2008

Istanbul by Wax Poetic begins as a billowy, languid soundscape awash in spectral Arabic whisperings, sampled radio noise and Turkish instruments floating in a Bitches Brew ambiance. But five songs in, Wax Poetic founder Ilhan Ersahin abruptly pushes his ensemble up-tempo with the erotic bounce of "Hoppola.” Istanbul is the second of three concept albums, alongside Copenhagen and Brasil, musically harnessing each city’s cultural energy. Ersahin righteously nails down the Eastern funk vibe, recording Istanbul with Turkish musicians. The results are 12 gorgeous-sounding tracks of global club dub. On "Istanbul Can Be Dub,” Ersahin sends a maelstrom of barking dogs, moog squiggles and other freaky effects careening around the mix, revealing his heavy Black Ark influence. The down-tempo thump of "Istanbul Lighthouse” features Rhodes keyboards resonating over skittish brush beats, with Dilara Sakinpar’s vocalese (eerily reminiscent of Lal singer Rosina) adrift in the mix. Ersahin’s world beat vision echoes Bill Laswell’s — mix the bass up front in dub — keeping the jazz free and sample-savvy. But where Laswell’s music sometimes stalls in jam mode, Ersahin’s songwriting is tightly focused. Istanbul is an excellent musical document reflecting this ageless metropolis.

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