Deep within their unruly, freedom-loving psychedelic vibe, there is a particularness about BaBa ZuLa’s world that I love. Their front covers are always carefully considered and stunningly constructed. They are particular about their experimental sound, which never fits into any one genre but effortlessly brings together Western and Eastern beats. And the lyrics for their songs deliberately exude political conscious that have peace, love and harmony at their core.
XX ticks these boxes and more. Released on Glitterbeat Records, the new album (their ninth) celebrates the band’s 20th anniversary with a neon blue cover of a naked electric saz-playing woman with an X on each nipple.
It’s a twin disc ‘Best Of’ with a difference: instead of repackaging previously released material, the band have dug into their archives to deliver unreleased remixes, live track versions, re-recordings, and collaborative dub re-creations of 28 essential tracks, from Cecom and Biz Size Aşık Olduk (both 2002) to Özgür Ruh (2005), and a slew of songs from their last album Do Not Obey / 34 Oto Sanayi (2014).
The album captures perfectly BaBa ZuLa’s sonic adventures of the past two decades. A kaleidoscopic sound with delicious layers of Turkish psychedelic rock, Anatolian folk music, Krautrock, electronica, reggae and lots of experimentation. Hear the electric saz, oud and guitar, alongside their acoustic versions, peppered with rich percussion including darbuka, bender, cymbals and spoons, and effects through their synths and assorted electronic machines.
“XX is like discovering BaBa ZuLa playing in the back room of a club or a side tent in a festival. You’ll be there all night checking out their curious sounds…taken on a fantastic aural psychedelic trip – no drugs necessary.”
The songs on XX have a raw, live-like quality about them, their pulsating beats utterly mesmeric. Hearing the album is like discovering BaBa ZuLa playing in the back room of a club or a side tent in a festival. You’ll be there all night checking out their curious sounds, at times dancing wildly, at other moments rocking gently as you are taken on a fantastic aural psychedelic trip – no drugs necessary.
Collaborators include Sly & Robbie, Mad Professor, Dr. Das (Asian Dub Foundation), Alexander Hacke (Einstürzende Neubauten), Dirtmusic, Turkish opera singer Semiha Berksoy, and Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit.
For band co-founder Osman Murat Ertel, working alongside such great performers is one of the band’s big successes: “It’s exciting to collaborate with people you listened to when you were young. It’s a great inspiration and a huge fulfilment in dreaming something and having it come true. And it becomes a link of friendship.”
XX is twenty in Roman numerals, and it can also mean two kisses and double X-rated. They all work and are in keeping with the band’s playful, intelligent style. So whether you’re new to the world of BaBa ZuLa or just want to remind yourselves on why they are one of the most original artists on the planet, grab a copy – you’ll be revisiting this album for years!
The album is available on CD, vinyl and digital download from all good record stores. And if you’re in the UK, see BaBa ZuLa live at Under the Bridge in London on Thursday 27 April.
Baba Zula: XX (Disc 1)
- Özgür ruh /free spirit/ 2004
- Gerekli şeyler /essential things/ 2004
- Erotika hop/ 1997
- Biz size aşık olduk /we fell in love with you (TV version)/ 2002
- Seksek /hopscotch/ 2001
- Cecom/ 2002
- Aşıkların sözü kalır /eternal is the word of poets/ 2016
- Efkarlı yaprak /worried leaf/ 2016
- Carino: la yegros / feat. baba zula/ 2015
- Yororo kanto: oki dub ainu band/ feat. baba zula/ 2014
- Bir sana bir de bana / one for you and one for me/ delayaman/ 2016
- Çöl aslanları / desert lions/ 2004/ live berlin bada
- Abdülcanbaz/ 2013/ live pireas resistance festival
Baba Zula: XX (Disc 2, Dub mixes by Baba Zula unless otherwise stated)
- Alem Dub – 2016
- Nobey Dub – 2016
- Ufak Dub – 2016
- Iki Alem Dub – 2016 – Dr Das (Asian Dub Foundation)
- KK Dub – 2016 – Tolga Tolun
- Hopche Dub – 2016 – Dirtmusic
- Park Dub – 2009 – Uchi Uchida
- Lemon Dub – 2009 – Uchi Uchida
- Adultress Dub – 2005 – Mad Professor
- BSAO Dub – 2005 – Mad Professor
- Divan Dub – 2005 – Mad Professor
- Meçhul Plak Dub (lost record dub) – 2003
- Israr Dub – 2002
- Erotik Adab Dub – 2002 – Mad Professor
- Analog Anadolu Dub – 2000