Review Summary: ‘Dünyanın karmaşasına karşı biraz sadelik ve huzur…’
“We wish to convey a piece of lucidity and tranquility in contrast to the complexity of life
, translated as ‘Reflections’, is the collaboration of two Turkish musicians, Birol Yayla and Aziz Şenol Filiz. Fusing together traditional Turkish music with a more contemporary style, the simple chemistry between the two results in what is a wistful and ultimately beautiful piece of music, seemingly uncomplicated and effortless from the outset, but with a magnitude of depth to be uncovered within. As their first recording, Yansımalar
is entirely live, with Yayla on his guitar and Filiz on the traditional reed flute, known as the ‘Ney’ in Turkish. Although Yayla plays a pivotal role in creating the backdrop upon which Filiz expands with the Ney, it is without a doubt Filiz who characterizes the beauty of Yansımalar
; exemplifying the mystical and fluid surge that is traditional Turkish music, the Ney has an almost hollow sound, yet overwhelmingly shapes the album’s atmosphere. Moreover, and most importantly, the success Yayla and Filiz have in conveying various themes and moods is what really gives Yansımalar
its appeal; languor aside, the grasp the two musicians have over really creating an enveloping atmosphere from the basic utilization of two instruments is astounding.
Beginning with ‘Ağıt’ (the process of mourning for the death of a loved one), we’re introduced to the simple structure that defines the album; Yayla opens by providing the foundation upon which Filiz steps on, the two then flowing in and out of various melodies and tones. The opener is quite melancholic, perhaps even a little dark, and juxtaposes superbly with the next song, ‘Yansımalar’; the title track is somewhat sanguine, a hopeful and cheery expression of nostalgia and reflection. As there is no lyrical matter to which the album can base itself on, the song titles have a very important role in helping the listener identify with the theme expressed in a particular song. ‘Göç’ (‘Migration’) is an exploratory song, adventurous in its melody while harkening back to an image of approaching the Ottoman capital of Istanbul, wooded lands on either side of the cobbled road. ‘Günışığı’ (‘The Light of the Day’), is another melancholic track, simple in theme, but extraordinarily effective. Yansımalar
is a pensive album throughout its entire length, but within this contemplative climate Yayla and Filiz traverse both cheeriness and weighted gloom, more often than not in the same song. Even without any lyrics or vocal work, it’s incredibly easy to make a personal connection with the music; it is a very intimate album, and coupling this with the two men’s ability at conveying such perfect images and moods, one can lose himself easily within the music.
The undeniable ‘Turkish’ feel to Yansımalar
is another important facet of its success; while being a resonantly beautiful album, the way it captures the true form of Turkish music, especially that of traditional music, is exemplary. Furthermore, asides from encapsulating a history of Turkey’s music, the image it conjures of Turkey through the ages gives it an unparalleled significance as a work of art. ‘Bir Eski Istanbul’ (‘An Old Istanbul’), in ways similar to ‘Göç’, plays on the picture of Istanbul in the past, whether it be centuries ago in the Ottoman Empire, or merely decades ago before it become the bustling metropolis it is now; the song characterizes Istanbul’s mysterious stature, its fusion of two completely different civilizations, and its somewhat mystical and heavenly aura. On that note, the album’s deeper significance comes to life with the ‘mystical’ aspect. The style of music played on Yansımalar
, and more generally the Ney instrument, can be closely linked to the Mevlevi Sufi Order; the wavering and meandering melodies of the Ney are associated with the form of meditation practiced by the Mevleviye. This meditation, in actual fact a form of worship, involves the dervish (an initiate of the Mevlevi Order) twirling on the spot with his arms raised in the air, one palm facing up and the other down. This process, called the Sema, allows the dervish to reach a state of perfection, somewhat similar to the meditation practiced by Buddhists. The hands’ position is symbolic in the way it shows the dervish taking the word of God, and then with the other giving it to the people, as would be done by leaders of the order in earlier times. Yansımalar
’s style is symbolic to that of this Sema process, and with each Ney note played by Filiz, the image of the whirling dervishes tantalizes the mind. The spiritual component of the album is, therefore, a very strong one, and shines through the relatively basic musical collaboration to further add to the album’s profundity.
, in a nutshell, is a serene and graceful album; it breathes new life into a traditionally styled form of music, and has been the inspiration for many contemporary Turkish musicians. With a modern outlook that occupies both traditional and religious history, the album explores themes as trivial as Winter’s flowers (‘Kar Çiçekleri’), and as meaningful as friendship (‘Dostluk’), all while giving a deep insight into Turkey’s musical heritage. It’s timeless and peaceful, astutely reflecting a plethora of moods, and its impact as an album remains, and will remain, undiminished.