Turkish trio islandman’s sound is always evolving. Their sophomore outing on Music For Dreams, 2018’s Kaybola, found Middle Eastern / North African melodies, Saharan, nomadic Tuareg blues, played on a traditional stringed instrument, the 600 year old saz, carved from mulberry, and a similarly ancient reed, the sipsi. These mixed with plenty of percussion and chants. Drums designed to mimic galloping horses hooves. Muted wah-wah electric Miles-like moments sat side-by-side with ceremonial marches and dances. Shots of woodwind-led funk. With electronics adding almost acidic arpeggios, and the proceedings in places disco-ed, even house-d up. The album amounted to a modern, machined take on kosmische outfits such as Between and Manuel Göttsching’s Ashra. Further flavoured by sampled shamanic, Tuvan throat singing. Voices intended to invoke nature, the elements, and wildlife.
The follow-up, 2021’s Godless Ceremony was a whirlwind of worldwide instrumentation – including musical implements not only from Anatolia, but also Hindustani tabla, Spanish guitar, and Tibetan flute. Flamenco clapping, juice harp, and aching orchestration, coloured the call-and-response choruses. The overall feel was like that of the more ethnic environs of the ECM catalogue – such as Stephan Micus – being given a proper dance-floor pump and polish. It also featured a couple of calmer, Cafe del Mar, sunset suitable cuts.
This year’s live-cut-direct-to-lathe session for Night Dreamer, with legendary jazzman, percussionist, Okay Temiz, and young virtuoso sax-player Muhlis Berberoglu had some incredible musicianship on show. The tightness of the dynamic duelling rivaling one of bandleader Tolga Boyuk’s favourite acts, Cologne’s mighty CAN.
In Tolga’s own words, “It keeps us alive to not repeat things, to set our sights on new oceans.”
“This is why we make music… To manifest the changes, the movement, that we see around us.”***
In keeping with this credo the 3-piece have now picked up some particularly fine remixes from Sean Johnston. The Hardway Bros’ take on the track Godless Ceremony is a mid-tempo juggernaut. Like Sean’s recent rework of Marshall Watson and Cole Odin’s Just A Daydream Away it’s another retro-not-retro flashback to 1990. “Baggy” Balearic, on a strong hit of acid. Partying with a blotter popped in its eye. At 6 1/2 minutes it’s a fairly restrained “epic”, but it’s still indie-dance dynamite. The OG’s joyful jubilant summer strum is filtered and phased, frolicking with freaky psychedelic fractals, to a colossal kick and booming beat. There’s also a bonus Live At The SSL Dub which strips back some of the 6 & 7-string action, and instead focuses on the stamping and stomping groove. Slamming it up against walls of echoed vocals.
The Hardway Bros remix of islandman’s Godless Ceremony is released today on Music For Dreams.
***If you’d like to learn a little bit more about islandman, the full interview that these quotes are lifted from can be found, alongside a ton of other terrific stuff, in the latest issue of Disco Pogo.