Review Summary: ‘Taksim Trio…making music inspired by the heart of Istanbul’.
Although being the sort of statement that may unnerve particular music aficionados, it’s vital that it’s stated rather than implied - Taksim Trio’s self titled album is one of the most beautiful compositions of music you will ever hear. Three musicians, all of whom have a complete mastery over their respective instruments, have set out to make a piece of music that is as involving and deep as the cultural background it comes from. Comprising of a clarinet, a bağlama (otherwise known as the saz) and a kanun (a string instrument on a trapezoidal soundboard), Taksim Trio give an absolutely absorbing and luscious portrayal of contemporary musical styles played within a traditional Turkish soundscape. As with any band, the connection and relationship between each member is essential to the execution of the music. It is with this in mind one can easily see why Taksim Trio’s music is faultless; the way Hüsnü Senlendirici, Ismail Tunçbilek and Aytaç Dogan weave in and out of various moods and melodies, the way they presuppose each other all while giving their fellow member the utmost instrumental support, and the way their collusion incorporates so many diverse styles of music into a single fluid composition is literally perfect. Their complete cohesion as musicians can be seen in the way they are able to improvise together, in the traditional style, remaining harmonious while playing without any prescribed notation. Furthermore, this immaculate fusion of styles stems from the very concept that drives Taksim Trio’s music – the city of Istanbul. For centuries, Istanbul has been the point where East meets West, and it is with this idea that Taksim Trio lay out their music. Obviously rooted in their own musical heritage of traditionally styled Turkish music, Taksim Trio incorporate such styles as classical and jazz into this traditional mould, allowing the direction of their playing to represent Istanbul in its ultimate grandeur, both historically and musically.
As an entirely instrumental album, it’s crucial that Taksim Trio
remains completely captivating throughout its hour length, and commendation must be given to the three musicians for accomplishing this to the finest degree. With simply three acoustic instruments, Taksim Trio’s music is leaps and bounds ahead of most other styles of music in both its complexity and intricate melody. The skill of each musician, while being immediately apparent on any song, is exemplified by each instrument’s solo track, revealing the inherent nature of the instruments, two of which are native to the traditional music that is being played. Listening to the bağlama solo is a moving experience; with a faint hum in the background, Tunçbilek gives a performance that is simply breathtaking. The way he trails off into silence with frantically bended notes is alarmingly eerie, and the entire piece has a peculiar brooding feel to it. Nevertheless, it remains one of the album’s highlights, if such a term could be used regarding such a fulfilling piece of music. Moreover, as much as Taksim Trio
tingles my musical palate with the forcefulness of its melodies, it’s actually in the album’s more subtle musical nuances where its strength lies. The way it seamlessly transitions between the album’s aforementioned styles, or how one instrument picks up a musical line where another left off with absolutely no dent in its fluidity is remarkable. Along with this, Taksim Trio’s delicate nods towards more commonly known traditional melodies give the album a very interesting vibe. On certain tracks, such as ‘Belalim’, the familiarity of the music will ring personal bells in a listener acquainted with Turkish music, furthering Taksim Trio
’s grounding in its fusion of styles.
I’m left with no qualms concerning the statement that began the review, and am again completely confident with the one which will close it – Taksim Trio
is a musical opus, not only in its perfect union of Eastern and Western styles of music, not only in the three musician’s extraordinary musical capabilities, but also in the way the album flows, almost slowing time to a crawl. Listening to Taksim Trio
is an otherworldly experience, its ambient features coming together with the mystical aura associated with traditional Middle Eastern music. Regardless of what musical grounding a listener has, it is simply on the shoulders of the album’s beauty and composition that its emotional fragility can be understood. It is an album in which one can really lose themselves, flailing in the music’s completely overwhelming magnificence; an album that removes you from wherever you are and places you somewhere completely unique, in between the musical lines.