Label: Music For Dreams.
Three years ago in 2017, Islandman released their debut album Rest In Space to widespread critical acclaim. Since then, the Turkish trio have been busy, and have crisscrossed the globe playing gigs in clubs and at festivals. They’ve also spent the best part of two years recording their much-anticipated sophomore album Kaybola, which was recently released by Danish label Music For Dreams. It’s a captivating cross cultural sonic adventure with surprises aplenty in store, and the latest chapter in the Islandman story.
It’s a story that began in 2010, when Istanbul-based singer, songwriter, musician and producer Tolga Böyük started his new solo project Islandman. By then, he was a familiar face in Istanbul’s vibrant psychedelic scene and had self-released a string EPs and albums. Tolga Böyük was also a member of the band Farfara, but Islandman allowed him to take Anatolian psychedelic rock in a new and different direction.
To do this, he planned to fuse disparate musical genres. This was something that Turkish musicians had been doing for many years. The most popular instrument was the guitar, and many musicians started off playing Anatolian folk music and combined it with various Western influences. This was what Tolga Böyük planned to do by combining Anatolian psychedelic music with what was a Mediterranean vibe and a balearic sound. It was very different to the music other musicians were making.
In 2015, the Islandman LP was released digitally and featured nine unnamed tracks that were mixed into each other. This included early versions of what became Ağit, Ikaru and Hold Your Breath. These tracks would feature on Islandman’s first two albums.
When Islandman began recording Rest In Space, the group was a trio. Tolga Böyük had brought onboard guitarist Erdem Başer and percussionist Eralp Güven. They recorded ten genre-melting tracks which were written and produced by Tolga Böyük, and became Rest In Space.
What’s now regarded as Islandman’s debut album, Rest In Space, was released in October 2017, to critical acclaim and hailed as an album of ambitious and innovative music. Elements of Antolian psychedelic rock were combined with downtempo, electronica, jazz and traditional folk on Rest In Space to create what was an ambitious and innovative debut album from Islandman.
After the success of Rest In Space, Islandman spent part of their time playing live, and were regulars on the festival circuit and often played in clubs. However, they also started work on their sophomore album which became Kaybola.
When Islandman came to record Kaybola, Tolga Böyük and Erdem Başer both played guitar and synths. They were joined by percussionist Eralp Güven and some guest artists. This included The Swan and The Lake, Frederik Langkilde, DJ Pippi, Copenema and Troels Hammer. They recorded the fourteen tracks that found their way onto the CD version of Kaybola, their much-anticipated sophomore album.
Kaybola is crammed full of ethno-cultural material from all over the world. This includes field recordings from Bulgaria and Japan as well as throat singers from Tuva, in Southern Siberia. Add to this shamanic rhythms, nomadic guitars, the familiar sound of the Roland 808 drum machine, experimental electronics and a sprinkling of Turkish instrumentation that can be heard throughout the album. There’s also electronic structures that transform Kaybola’s jazz elements into dance movements. All these is part of a captivating and magical album where seamlessly genres melt into one.
Kaybola opens with the new single Dimitro, which is a remake of a traditional Bulgarian wedding song. Islandman combine an 808 drum machine, bass and the original vocals which manage to sound both raw and soulful. They also sound as if they’re part of an ancient ritual, and are combined with a slow, sultry and hypnotic hip shaking arrangement. It’s a potent combination and whets the listener’s appetite for what’s to come.
This includes the beautiful, sun kissed sound of Kaybola. Islandman combine a rock guitar with the Balearic sound and electronica. Very different is Zebra, an atmospheric soundscape where a soliloquy is combined with Antolian psychedelia, dub and electronica. It’s a dreamy, trippy and ruminative sounding track that invites reflection.
Field recordings are used during Hold Your Breath, where the synths seem to have been influenced by Pink Floyd. Meanwhile, a dark, pulsating bass is combined with haunting and hypnotic sounds to create a lysergic and cinematic soundscape.
It’s all change on Sahara, were a squelchy synth, vocoder, Eastern sounds and trumpet combine to create a memorable sounding track.
Initially Sem Voce which features DJ Pippi and Copenema is a slow burner as the bass plays before a hypnotic Antolian guitar is added. When the vocal enters, it’s soon obvious that the track is destined for the dancefloor. It becomes joyous and melodic with an unforgettable hook.
Islandman change things around on Khepre which under normal circumstances would be a favourite in beachside chill out bars as the sunsets in places like Ibiza.
Shu! is best described as a slow burner where impassioned and powerful vocal gives way to a combination of traditional instruments and synths. By then, the music is moody, atmospheric and hints of exotic faraway places before eventually becoming a chugging dancefloor filler.
When Islandman released the lead single from Kaybola they chose Lamani. Whispery vocals, synths and Antolian sounds combine to create an atmospheric, mesmeric and psychedelic dance track that will fill any dancefloor.
Atmospheric describes the introduction to Sumeru which closes the album. It meanders along the music sounding moody, haunting and filmic. Then when vocals and synths are added this transforms the track and it becomes joyous and moderne.
Three years after the release of Islandman’s critical acclaimed debut album Rest In Space, the Turkish trio return with the much-anticipated followup, Kaybola. It’s been well worth the long wait.
Kaybola finds Islandman combining disparate genres and musical influences throughout the album. Sometimes, it seems like these combinations shouldn’t work, but they do. That was the case on the penultimate track and dancefloor filler, Shu! However, producer Tolga Böyük takes the pieces of what’s akin to a musical jigsaw puzzle and makes the pieces fit. They aways do and throughout this fourteen track CD.
The two years that Tolga Böyük and the other two members of Islandman spent writing and recording Kaybola were well spent. Islandman have created a magical and captivating cross cultural sonic adventure with surprises aplenty in store, and they become apparent with each listen to Kaybola.