Bu Bir Ruya (‘This Is A Dream’) is the collaboration between Dirtmusic (comprised of Hugo Race and Chris Eckman) and Turkish psychedelic music veteran Murat Ertel (Baba Zula), recorded in the beautiful city and currently heated political background of Istanbul, Turkey. It should come as no surprise, then, that this album is full of trance-inducing rhythms, fuzzy guitars, sweltering electronics, and Arabian influences. What might sound like a difficult listen turns out to be quite an intriguing and digestible work of art – if you fully set your mind to it.
With a pulsating rhythm and Arabian guitar melodies, “Bi De Sen Söyle” opens the record. At almost eight minutes in length, it’s already the longest track out of the seven on Bu Bir Ruya, despite only one of them staying below the four-minute mark. While the background instrumental flows along mostly unchanged (thus gaining the aforementioned trance-like quality), punctuated by the occasional guitar or backing vocal flourish, the vocals are delivered in form of a husky voice performing a spoken word piece. Vocals aren’t a necessary commodity on this record, though, as instrumental songs like “Go The Distance”, with its nervous, flickering beat and psychedelic guitar licks, can very much pull their own weight as well.
The cover artwork of Bu Bir Ruya is a minimal, yet absolutely fitting representation of the music lurking behind it. Black lines swirl in front of a hot, reddish-purple hue, making it hard to focus your eyes on one single point. The band name and album title hide inside those lines, written in white, growing and shrinking with their surroundings. It’s not as much of a slow, drawn-out fever-dream as the music is, but it gets the mood it wants to set across.
“Love is a Foreign Country” prominently features Arabian-style singing and a spoken word performance, both by a female vocalist. Musing on the desperate search for a new home and the circumstances that come with it, its lyrical content is underlined by the hauntingly dramatic yet sparsely intense instrumental. Most of the album’s lyrics are conveyed in such a way, as you may have gathered from what you’ve read so far, and “Outrage” is no different. Reverberating guitars are set to a flickering rhythm that steadily carries the piece onwards, providing ample room for the band’s message to be laid out in direct words.
The clashing of different (musical) cultures always results in interesting art being created, and Dirtmusic’s Bu Bir Ruya is no exception. It’s an exercise in open-mindedness, a quality that ironically seems to be all too rare in our globalized modern times, creating engaging sounds and textures out of the commingling of Western and Eastern elements. This album won’t be to everyone’s tastes, and I must admit that it did have its lengths, especially regarding the homogeny of the individual songs, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Bu Bir Ruya is, all things considered, a rock-solid, enjoyable experience.
Notable Tracks: “Bi De Sen Söyle”; “…”; “Safety in Numbers”
FFO: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Yeasayer, Baba Zula