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TODAYS ZAMAN /21.04.2011

Kardeş Türküler makes long awaited comeback with new album

It has been almost six years since the ethnic folk music ensemble Kardeş Türküler released their last studio album, “Bahar” (Spring).

Fans have been waiting for a long time for new songs and this longing has finally come to an end. Kardeş Türküler released its newest album, “Çocuk (H)aklı” (The Kid is Right/The Kid's Mind), on Tuesday.

Released through the indie label Kalan Music, the album was recorded under the musical direction of Arto Tunçboyacıyan -- the celebrated musician billed as “Mr. Avant-garde Folk.”

The album is made up of 16 songs in the Armenian, Turkish, Arabic, Kurmanji and Laz languages. In the CD, the ensemble offers many novelties. Unlike their previous albums, in which they mostly reinterpreted well-known folk songs from across Anatolia, “Çocuk (H)aklı” largely consists of works composed either by a member of Kardeş Türküler or Tunçboyacıyan. A notable track on the CD is “Zamanın Bahçesinde” (In the Garden of Time), a song written by well-known Armenian musician Ara Dinkjian. The album also includes a song called “Daymohk” (Homeland), a song in the Chechen language, which is a first for the band. A Yezidi hymn called “Qewlê Kofa” (The Hymn of Cofi) is also being featured for the first time in Turkey.

The theatrical character of the group's onstage performances remains, just like their motto. “We continue to make a call for peace and coexistence,” said Feryal Öney, a prominent member of Kardeş Türküler, at a press conference on Tuesday to launch their new album. “However, as people who have been making music for almost 20 years, we believe that it is not sufficient to only represent different religions and cultures [through music]. The issue of [ethnic] identities has been discussed a lot in Turkey, particularly since the 1990s, and [Turkey] has made quite some progress in this area. So, the question is not how to represent different cultures, but how we will make these cultures survive in our daily lives without turning them into subcultures; how these cultures will coexist without forming a cultural hierarchy. We have been seeking an answer to these questions and we're doing this through music. And you will be able to see this on the album,” Öney explained.

The album's title, Öney said, referred to Kardeş Türküler's attitude, which in a way resembles that of a child who asks questions and waits for answers tirelessly. “Children are innately curious and ask questions,” explained Öney. “They ask questions that grownups cannot dare to and definitely want answers. This persistent attitude is very significant for us and this is what we have been trying to do as Kardeş Türküler from the beginning. This is also the characteristic we have in common with Arto. We share the same concerns about the world and life. We have the same curious and naïve outlook that children have. The album's title says ‘the kid is right' [when he wants] peace for our lands.”

Enjoy the same garden

Vedat Yıldırım, probably the most famous face of Kardeş Türküler, also highlighted the common points between Kardeş Türküler and Tunçboyacıyan. “We met with Arto for the first time at the commemoration of [slain Armenian-Turkish journalist] Hrant Dink,” he said. “Then we had a chance to talk at a festival in Kars and then we shared the same stage in 2009 in a concert in İstanbul. When we came together, the very first ideas to do something together were formed. And what is particularly significant for us is that Arto gives importance to the innovation of traditional music and experimentalism. What we have in common is [the desire] to update folk music and enhance it with improvisation rather than keeping it as it is in a protectionist manner. We bring traditional music together with our original songs. We try to see music in a more fantastic way, going beyond the ordinary. This is what we call ‘the kid's mind' and we share a lot in terms of our perspective on different cultures and [world] views.”

“This album can be seen as a seed,” added Tunçboyacıyan. “My brother Onno [Tunç, who died in 1996,] used to say that everything would come out by itself when the time is right, otherwise it would not be mature. So, this is the right time for this album,” he said.

However, apart from common points, Tunçboyacıyan also highlighted the differences between him and Kardeş Türküler. “We unite our experiences with our dreams for the future without losing our own essences,” he said. “We have had some debates [on our music] in academic terms. My academic experience is from the academy that I ‘created' myself; I am a primary school graduate, but they [members of Kardeş Türküler] have broad academic backgrounds. On the other hand, we have no difference in essence at all. Our view of the human being and life is the same.”

Tunçboyacıyan also touched upon the Monument to Humanity, billed by the prime minister as a “monstrosity,” in the eastern province of Kars, and how saddened he was because it was going to be demolished. “Turkey is undergoing a process of change,” Tunçboyacıyan said. “This is inevitable, Turkey is on the way [to change] and there's no return from that. We have to walk this path together and nobody should get hurt [in the process]. In the end, we will sit and take pleasure in the same garden all together. Today, Turkey's outward appearance has changed a lot, but what is essential is a change in mentality and [the ability] to talk about real problems,” he said.