Releases

Dirtmusic • Bu Bir Ruya

Release Date: 26/01/2018
Format: CD/LP+CD/DL
Cat-No: GBCD/LP 055

01. Bi De Sen Söyle

02. The Border Crossing

03. Go the Distance

04. Love is a Foreign Country

05. Safety in Numbers

06. Outrage

07. Bu Bir Ruya

 

Dirtmusic return for their fifth album, a full-scale collaboration with Turkish-psych visionary Murat Ertel from Baba Zula. Recorded in Istanbul, the album navigates hypnotic rhythms, cinematic atmospheres and dark political realities.

‘We need music like this to stay sane’ – Murat Ertel

The striking figure of Murat Ertel is standing at the door of his home studio, a converted mechanic’s garage in a suburb of Istanbul. The Turkish capital is a tense and conflicted place these days, but Baba Zula’s leader and saz man is on fine form. Before him stand those current and former musical nomads, Chris Eckman and Hugo Race, guitars in hand. Dirtmusic are about to take on their latest, and perhaps most thrilling, form.

But let’s rewind a little, for Dirtmusic’s story is worth your time (although it perhaps makes more sense to talk about Dirtmusics plural).

Originally a straight-talking, mainly acoustic trio mining blues and country for 21st century gold, the band’s first happy accident was to stumble upon Tamikrest at the fabled Festival au Désert in Timbuktu in 2008. A musical love story began, running through that joyous first collaboration with Tamikrest in BKO (2010), followed by Troubles (2013) and Lion City (2014), which expanded the roster to include Ben Zabo, Samba Touré and a host of other superb Malian musicians. In the meantime, however, the Islamist takeover of Northern Mali in 2012 had darkened the sound and the songwriting, giving them a tone that continues to resonate through the new record.

Back to that garage. True to form, Eckman and Race look to improvise, for that line to the Bamako years is still strong. They’ve come with a couple of beats and loops – and they’re not even sure whether they will attach any words to this year’s Dirtmusic. But Ertel knows they need to tell a story. The time and the place demand it. This is being recorded in Istanbul after all, and Eckman has flown there from Slovenia, a country that has secured its southern border with razor wire – and Race from Australia, where sea-borne refugees are detained indefinitely on remote islands. And so it goes, a tale of borders and walls, of cold fronts and cold hearts.

The opening track, ‘Bi De Sen Söyle’, is a statement of intent, musically and lyrically: shared vocals that mass in urgent call-and-response, the psychedelic grip of Ertel’s saz, which barely leaves the record for a second, and percussion from Ümit Adakale that tells us that this is music for clubs and parties as much as for private spaces. It shares this with ‘The Border Crossing’, the prime slice of Pop Group-inflected postpunk-funk that follows it, with its voice of hard truth, perhaps even of cynicism, but also of ambiguity. Both tracks ask you to consider who is speaking. The world is indeed ‘getting smaller’, but for whom? Is it the privileged traveller who’s in trouble here, or the refugee? Everyone has a story to tell, even if we can only catch glimpses of it. The shadow of the new despots hangs over them, but the refusal to preach, that insistent ambiguity again, asks just as many questions of the liberal challenge.

It’s a questing, restless record for the head, but perhaps more so for the body. It broods throughout, as post-punk, Turkish psych, funk, rock and electronics stalk the grooves with widescreen intent – listen to ‘Safety in Numbers’, for example, an instant classic that sees Race in imperious form, or ‘Love is a Foreign Country’, which features a startling appearance by Gaye Su Akyol, a treat for those who loved her Hologram İmparatorluğu, one of the most striking Glitterbeat releases of 2016. Fans of Baba Zula, Turkey’s premier psychedelicists, will also have more than enough to chew on, particularly in the remarkable title track that closes the album.

‘We need a story,’ said Murat. This year’s Dirtmusic summit has given us another one to think about and, as importantly, to dance to. The desert tent has been swapped for the garage in Northern Istanbul, for now, but the concerns remain the same: to tear down borders, real and imagined, as quickly as they can be thrown up. Ten years in, this singular band with a plural soul have made their finest record yet.

‘Recording like this is truly in the moment, there are no preconceptions to satisfy and the music and words are improvised. We drew inspiration from the atmosphere of Istanbul, the general disaffection with the state media and the uncertainty of the immediate future’ – Hugo Race

‘[Murat’s] studio is really a warm and relaxed place to work. I think if we had tried the same thing at a slick studio, with the clock running, it wouldn’t have come together so easily. By the end of the first day the friendships were already forming and we were having a hell of a good time’ – Chris Eckman

 

Hugo Race: vocals, guitars, bass, loops, programming
Chris Eckman: vocals, guitars, loops, kalimba
Murat Ertel: vocals, electric saz, divan saz, bağlama rhythm machine
Ümit Adakale: darbuka, davul, bendir, percussion

Featuring:
Gaye Su Akyol vocals (4)
Brenna Mac Crimmon vocals (1,5)
Görkem Şen: yaybahar (6,7)

 

Produced by Murat Ertel, Hugo Race & Chris Eckman
Recorded in İstanbul, December 2016 at Saniki Studio, Maslak & A2 Studio (Tünel)
Mixed at Studio Zuma, Ljubljana, July 2017

 

Dirtmusic • Lion City

Release Date: 28/03/2014
Format: CD/LP+CD/DL
Cat-No: GBCD/LP 011

01. Stars Of Gao (feat. Super 11)
02. Narha (feat. Aminata Wassidjé Traoré)
03. Movin’ Careful
04. Justice
05. Ballade De Ben Zabo
06. Red Dust (feat. Samba Touré)
07. Clouds Are Cover
08. Starlight Club
09. Blind City
10. Day The Grid Went Down
11. September 12 (feat. Ibrahima Douf)

 

Dirtmusic’s previous album “Troubles,” released in June of last year, was recorded in Bamako, Mali in the dark days of the 2012 political upheaval. A propulsive collection of cinematic Afro-rock, “Troubles” for the most part rose out of improvisational sessions involving Hugo Race (Fatalists, Bad Seeds) and Chris Eckman (The Walkabouts) of Dirtmusic and the nimble, balafon driven Ben Zabo band. Malian luminaries like Samba Toure, Zoumana Tereta, Aminata Wassidje Traore and Virginie Dembele from the Rokia Traore band, brought exhilarating vocal and instrumental contributions to the collective.

“Troubles” was not a mere construct or hybrid, but rather something deeply collaborative and genre-busting. Louder Than War wrote: “an incisive and unique journey in soundthis album is rock, it’s roll, its funk, it’s African, it’s an aural delight.”

“Lion City” the new Dirtmusic album, is culled from the same Bamako sessions as “Troubles” but offers a decidedly different atmosphere and ambiance. While the Ben Zabo band is still the core collaborator, the textures and tempos are slower and more opaque. Organics and electronics intertwine and unfold unpredictably. There are less guitars and more liquid sounds. The outward frustration and fear documented on the previous album has given way to something more insular and pensive. The echoing space between the notes is emphasized and subsequently so are the voices and the texts.

Samba Toure provides a vocal and lyric for “Red Dust” a song that enshrines the contemplative mood of the album. Over a swirling dub-scape he intones:

How can we reconcile and forgive?

How can we bring peace to those that hate us?

Yet we have no choice

We need to stop fighting

 

While Samba Toure, Ben Zabo and his band, and Aminata Wassidje Traore previously appeared on “Troubles”, “Lion City” also features an inspired team of new collaborators.

+Tamikrest members Ousmane Ag Mossa (guitar), Cheikhe Ag Tiglia (Bass) & Aghaly Ag Mohamedine (percussion) appear on the bluesy and meditative “Movin’ Careful.” This is the first time the two groups have collaborated since Dirtmusic’s BKO album from 2010.

+The iconic Takamba band Super 11, from northern Mali, exchange thorn-like trance sounds with Hugo and Chris on the album’s opening number “Stars of Gao.”

+MC Jazz, an up and coming Bamako Hip Hop artist adds a fiery incantation to the mostly instrumental “Day the Grid Went Down.”

+Ibrahima Douf, a young singer from Senegal, provides a stunning vocal on the album’s final track “September 12.” The song is an ode to his grandmother.

The 21st century claims to be borderless. A world of hyper-communication and instant nostalgia that is both celebrated and feared. On “Lion City” Dirtmusic stayed clear of such theorizing and just got on with the practice. The collective joy they found in making this music is what mattered most.

 

Dirtmusic • Troubles

Release Date: 07/06/2013
Format: CD/2LP+CD/DL
Cat-No: GBCD/LP 005

01 Chicken Scratch
02 Fitzcarraldo
03 The Big Bend
04 Wa Ya You
05 Up To Us
06 Troubles
07 La Paix
08 Take It On The Chin
09 Wa Nazu
10 Sleeping Beauty
11 God Is A Mistery

 

Troubles is an album from DirtmusicChris Eckman (The Walkabouts) and Hugo Race (Fatalists/True Spirit/Bad Seeds) – recorded in Bamako, Mali, in September 2012 during the high-tension and tragic recent crisis – hence the name, ‘Troubles’.

Originally a trio with Chris Brokaw (Come/Codeine), Dirtmusic released their eponymous debut in 2007, a gritty collection of acoustic ballads drawn from their American and Australian frontier roots. The band’s explorations of raw, psych-folk-rock then took a radical detour out to the Saharan desert, to Timbuktu, performing at the legendary Festival-au-Desert.

Dirtmusic’s encounter at the Festival-au-Desert with the Tuareg band Tamikrest was the catalyst for the second album, BKO (2010), a classic, one-of-a-kind trip through the interzone between ‘western’ and Tamasheq desert rock. The two bands toured Europe extensively and the album received major shout outs from both the rock/pop and “world” music press:

With the departure of Chris Brokaw, Race and Eckman decided to head further ‘upriver’, composing and recording an album from scratch in full collaboration with a select crew of Malian artists. Dirtmusic arrived in the Malian capital of Bamako with notebooks of lyrics, but without written songs or preconceived strategies.

Drawing on musicians from the Ben Zabo and Samba Toure bands as a core rhythm section, Race and Eckman produced the sessions on the dance floor of Salif Keita’s Moffou Club, inviting in guest vocalists including not only Ben Zabo and Samba Toure, but also Virginie Dembele (from the Rokia Traore ensemble), rising star Aminata Wassidje Traore and soku-master Zoumana Tereta.

There are many voices telling stories on Troubles, singing in Songhai, Bambara, Tamasheq and English, stories of war and peace and love and doubt in the shadow of an oncoming storm, and like a musical version of cinema verite, everything is real, in-the-moment and utterly direct.

Inspired by the collision between West African rhythms, digital sorcery and rock’n’roll, Troubles is a singular and border-slicing musical journey. And Troubles is only the first release from the sessions, with a second volume in the pipeline for a release on Glitterbeat in early 2014.

 

Dirtmusic • BKO

Release Date: 19/04/2010
Format: CD+DVD/2xLP+CD+DVD/DL
Cat-No: GRCD/LP 704

Disc: 1
1. Black Gravity
2. All Tomorrows Parties
3. Ready For The Sign
4. Desert Wind
5. Lives We Did Not Live
6. Unknowable
7. Smokin Bowl
8. Collisions
9. Niger Sundown
10. Bring It Home

Disc: 2
1. Documentary
2. Black Gravity
3. All Tomorrow’s Parties
4. Desert Wind
5. If We Run (Audio)
6. Ain’t No Grave (Audio)
7. Bogolon Blue (Audio)
8. The Angel’s Message To Me (Audio)

 

BKO’ is the international abbreviation for Bamako Airport in Mali’s capital city. It is also the title of the forthcoming album by Dirtmusic, a group of rock’n’roll veterans from the USA and Australia, which was recorded at the famous Studio Bogolan in Bamako – set up by the late Ali Farka Touré.

All three members of Dirtmusic have a long lasting history as musicians and songwriters in various bands: Chris Eckman is the leader of acclaimed US band The Walkabouts, and has also collaborated with Willard Grant Conspiracy and many others. Chris Brokaw has collaborated with Evan Dando and The Lemonheads, Liz Phair and Thurston Moore. The two Americans are joined by Australian-born Hugo Race, the leader of True Spirit and one of the original members of The Bad Seeds. Eckman and Race were label mates and in 2006 they got together with Brokaw to form Dirtmusic. Dirtmusic’s first album, recorded in 2007 in Eckman’s adopted home city of Ljubljana, Slovenia, somehow got into the hands of the booker of Mali’s annual Festival of the Desert who invited them to perform.

Eckman had been a fan of African music for years, so when in 2008 he found himself silky dunes of Essakane at the 2008 Festival of the Desert, it was like a baptism, a revelation, an epiphany. “I spent those three days very much in a dream state,” Eckman recalls. “The music, the sounds, the sightsit was just something absolutely overwhelming.” Next to Dirtmusic’s tent was that of young Touareg desert blues/ rock band Tamikrest. The two bands found themselves jamming together almost non-stop and discovered that their ideas and music fit perfectly. It was clear that this jam somehow had to continue after the festival.

So a year later Dirtmusic returned to Mali to record their new album “BKO” – with Tamikrest backing them in the studio. Connecting in lateral ways, swapping jokes and mixing up English and French and Tamashek (the language of the Touaregs), the mutual language of both bands is really music, and the reunion became a jam session, a discussion in word and rhythm – traditional songs, Dirtmusic songs, Tamikrest songs, passing hybrids of the two. During their meeting in the desert they had played The Velvet Underground’s legendary “All Tomorrow’s Parties” together. When Brokaw struck up the first few chords of the song, Tamikrest just jumped right in without a second thought, as if they’d been listening to the Velvet Underground since the release of the ‘Banana’ album – which they hadn’t. Luckily, they recreated this jam in the studio to include on the album. The blend of sounds and influences on this track is stunning but also feels completely natural. The natural process continued throughout the recording. For instance, Tamikrest leader Ousmane Ag Mossa spontaneously sings in Tamashek over the groove to “Black Gravity” and a kind of fusion erupts between Dirtmusic and Tamikrest. (Whilst most songs are composed by either Eckman, Race or Brokaw, “Black Gravity” contains Ousmane’s own composition “Imidiwan”, meaning ‘friends’, which he ‘gave’ to his new friends of Dirtmusic to include inside their song “Black Gravity”.)

Other Malian stars paid visits to the studio: Fadimata Walet Oumar from the famous Touareg group Tartit lends her sublime vocals to “All Tomorrow’s Parties” and “Desert Wind”. Two master musicians from Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra jam on several abstract pieces, with one of them, “Niger Sundown”, being included on the album, while guitar legend Lobi Traoré plays on closing track “Bring It Home”.

Soon after recording the Dirtmusic album, Eckman returned to Mali, this time to produce Tamikrest’s debut album ‘Adagh’ (out 1 March 2010). And the collaboration continues: in May the two bands will be performing together throughout Europe, including a show at The Borderline in London on 19 May 2010.

 

Dirtmusic • Dirtmusic

Release Date: 23/11/2007
Format: CD/DL
Cat-No: GRCD 676

01. Erica Moody 3:06
02. The Other Side 5:37
03. Sun City Casino 5:30
04. Face Of Evil 3:35
05. The Returning 5:30
06. Still Running 5:37
07. Summer Days 3:29
08. Ballad Of A Dream 7:15
09. No Sorrow More 4:51
10. Panther Hunting 2:04
11. Wasted On 4:06
12. Morning Dew

Dirtmusic

Dirtmusic return for their fifth album, a full-scale collaboration with Turkish-psych visionary Murat Ertel from Baba Zula. Recorded in Istanbul, the album navigates hypnotic rhythms, cinematic atmospheres and dark political realities.

‘We need music like this to stay sane’ – Murat Ertel

The striking figure of Murat Ertel is standing at the door of his home studio, a converted mechanic’s garage in a suburb of Istanbul. The Turkish capital is a tense and conflicted place these days, but Baba Zula’s leader and saz man is on fine form. Before him stand those current and former musical nomads, Chris Eckman and Hugo Race, guitars in hand. Dirtmusic are about to take on their latest, and perhaps most thrilling, form.

But let’s rewind a little, for Dirtmusic’s story is worth your time (although it perhaps makes more sense to talk about Dirtmusics plural).

Originally a straight-talking, mainly acoustic trio mining blues and country for 21st century gold, the band’s first happy accident was to stumble upon Tamikrest at the fabled Festival au Désert in Timbuktu in 2008. A musical love story began, running through that joyous first collaboration with Tamikrest in BKO (2010), followed by Troubles (2013) and Lion City (2014), which expanded the roster to include Ben Zabo, Samba Touré and a host of other superb Malian musicians. In the meantime, however, the Islamist takeover of Northern Mali in 2012 had darkened the sound and the songwriting, giving them a tone that continues to resonate through the new record.

Back to that garage. True to form, Eckman and Race look to improvise, for that line to the Bamako years is still strong. They’ve come with a couple of beats and loops – and they’re not even sure whether they will attach any words to this year’s Dirtmusic. But Ertel knows they need to tell a story. The time and the place demand it. This is being recorded in Istanbul after all, and Eckman has flown there from Slovenia, a country that has secured its southern border with razor wire – and Race from Australia, where sea-borne refugees are detained indefinitely on remote islands. And so it goes, a tale of borders and walls, of cold fronts and cold hearts.

The opening track, ‘Bi De Sen Söyle’, is a statement of intent, musically and lyrically: shared vocals that mass in urgent call-and-response, the psychedelic grip of Ertel’s saz, which barely leaves the record for a second, and percussion from Ümit Adakale that tells us that this is music for clubs and parties as much as for private spaces. It shares this with ‘The Border Crossing’, the prime slice of Pop Group-inflected postpunk-funk that follows it, with its voice of hard truth, perhaps even of cynicism, but also of ambiguity. Both tracks ask you to consider who is speaking. The world is indeed ‘getting smaller’, but for whom? Is it the privileged traveller who’s in trouble here, or the refugee? Everyone has a story to tell, even if we can only catch glimpses of it. The shadow of the new despots hangs over them, but the refusal to preach, that insistent ambiguity again, asks just as many questions of the liberal challenge.

It’s a questing, restless record for the head, but perhaps more so for the body. It broods throughout, as post-punk, Turkish psych, funk, rock and electronics stalk the grooves with widescreen intent – listen to ‘Safety in Numbers’, for example, an instant classic that sees Race in imperious form, or ‘Love is a Foreign Country’, which features a startling appearance by Gaye Su Akyol, a treat for those who loved her Hologram İmparatorluğu, one of the most striking Glitterbeat releases of 2016. Fans of Baba Zula, Turkey’s premier psychedelicists, will also have more than enough to chew on, particularly in the remarkable title track that closes the album.

‘We need a story,’ said Murat. This year’s Dirtmusic summit has given us another one to think about and, as importantly, to dance to. The desert tent has been swapped for the garage in Northern Istanbul, for now, but the concerns remain the same: to tear down borders, real and imagined, as quickly as they can be thrown up. Ten years in, this singular band with a plural soul have made their finest record yet.

‘Recording like this is truly in the moment, there are no preconceptions to satisfy and the music and words are improvised. We drew inspiration from the atmosphere of Istanbul, the general disaffection with the state media and the uncertainty of the immediate future’ – Hugo Race

‘[Murat’s] studio is really a warm and relaxed place to work. I think if we had tried the same thing at a slick studio, with the clock running, it wouldn’t have come together so easily. By the end of the first day the friendships were already forming and we were having a hell of a good time’ – Chris Eckman