Earlier this year, we were treated to Cevdet Erek’s latest record, Davul. ‘Davul’ is the name of the novel drum that features as the centrepiece for this album. Over several years, Erek developed an idiosyncratic method of playing, using a large soft mallet alongside various smaller implements to beat and distort the skin of the drum. The skin is also tuned lower than normal, giving that bouncing-ball effect as the mallet bounces on the surface. Listening to this record, with its brooding overtones and apocalyptic sound, it may surprise you to find that the Davul is an instrument used for celebration too. When we spoke to Erek earlier in the month, he explained:
“This type of drum is traditionally used in dances, weddings and any kind of celebration or announcement (like wake-up time for Ramadan fasting) as well. That’s not what I am doing. The technique that I use is based on the traditional usage, but I used it as just a drum and flowed with it. There are lots of other drumming or pulse based influences on what I do: any other traditional culture of rhythm with bass drums, and details that I’ve been influenced by for many years; from Balcanic to African, from Brazilian to Central Asian shamanic cultures from elsewhere to Japanese/Korean traditional drumming, but also lots from drummers from recent decades, too. So: I take a drum and start walking with it. The past and current paths shape the sound.”
Davul is an interesting record, if only for its deceptive simplicity. There are only seven improvised pieces, culled from hours of solo drum improvisations recorded over two days in Berlin, with no overdubs or edits. Erek’s explanation of this decision is clear: “just play, improvise and record.” And although this may have a spur-of-the-moment charm to it, the truth is, a lot of preparation went into those two days of recording. Putting to one side the practicing hours, Erek also experimented with unusual microphone placements and moving around the studio with the Davul to give the auditory illusion that there many players in the room at once.
The result is an eery and impressive record. Erek eclectic interest in genres from, “techno to grindcore to bass cultures and sheer noise music” comes through, even on a record with but one instrument. As Erek himself explains, “some certain aesthetics are affected by hundreds of inputs from all around the world.” However, Turkish percussive music is sadly not well known or heard often today. To provide some context for this album, we asked Cevdet to mix some essential influences of traditional and contemporary drum music and to mix it with some his drumming and remixing. Listen below.
Please note that we could not upload this mix to Mixcloud as it is banned in Turkey.
İster 1 - Yarkın Türk Ritm Grubu [Kalan Müzik]
Rebonds B - Iannis Xenakis (performed by Christoph Sietzen) [Genuine]
128.5 - Burnt Friedman, Jaki Liebzeit [Nonplace]
Kabak Tatlısı - Okay Temiz [Ada Müzik ]
Kış Kış - Nekropsi [A.K. Müzik]
Attar - Trio Chemirani [Harmonia Mundi s.a.]
Tomoe (live) - KODO [Otodaiku]
Flow 1 & Flow 2 - Cevdet Erek [Subtext]
Ascent - Emptyset (Cevdet Erek Remix) [Thrill Jockey]