Album Review: Dirtmusic – Bu Bir Ruya [Glitterbeat; February 2018]

Dirtmusic return with their fifth album, Bu Bir Ruya, released on the well-established label Glitterbeat Records. Differing from previous endeavours, Bu Bir Ruya is a partnership with Turkish psychedelic pioneer Murat Ertel – of alternative Turkish band Baba Zula.

Recorded in a converted car garage in Istanbul, Bu Bir Ruya combines compelling rhythms and scenic moods, creating exotic and surreal landscapes for the listener. The Turkish capital is currently in a state of turmoil and upheaval, both politically and socially. The volatile atmosphere is deliberately reflected in the music, creating a dark sound and giving an acerbic edge to Dirtmusic’s latest album.

Dark political themes run throughout the album, most notably concerning border control. Dirtmusic are a multinational band keen on promoting their country’s troubles; guitarist Chris Eckman travelled from Slovenia, a country which has recently reinforced their southern border with barbed wire. Hugo Race has similar negative experiences in relation to migration in Australia, where foreigners are held indefinitely on remote islands. Dirtmusic also had several Malian musicians who were forced to flee their homeland after an Islamist takeover.

Bu Bir Ruya is an explorative and energetic album invoking physical and psychological responses. The record oozes class and sophistication. Hopping through an array of genres as the album evolves, Dirtmusic draw influences from post-punk, funk, electronica, rock, minimalism and experimental sounds, all formulating a unique, new and distinctive Turkish psychedelic sound.

Opening track “Bi De Sen Söyle” sets the pace for the rest of the record both musically and lyrically. The song gathers momentum through a huge of wall-of-sound spawned from combined vocals in a call-and-response format. Ertel’s saz and Ümit Adakale’s virtuoso percussion add urgency to the track, creating an encapsulating, toe-tapping song.

What makes this album stand out from other neo-psychedelic records is the delicious timbre of the guitar, caressing and comforting at certain points, while aggressive and tormenting the listener later on in the record.

Dirtmusic have matured their sound throughout their career, with their latest offering taking a much darker twist. Certainly not for the queasy or faint-hearted, this record is a real rollercoaster for experimental psychedelic fans.