Göksel Baktagir with the Symphony of Istanbul - Dogu Rüzgari
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cd cover Göksel Baktagir with the Symphony of Istanbul
Dogu Rüzgari 2 [Wind of the East]
Akustik (www.akustikyapim.com)

Baktagir is a master of the kanun and a prodigious composer. He has developed an immaculate technique on his instrument, a board zither that is the precursor of most European zithers. This showcase for his instrumental and compositional brilliance is a mixed bag. In sound and concept it bears a resemblance to such Eastern cross-cultural endeavors as the Silk Road Project and the works of Ghazal, but leaning a little more toward the fusion end of things. Bringing in swaths of tabla, ney, oud, and even a little didgeridoo, the sound is nothing if not colorful. In general, it's a good mix, flowing along with a joyous sweep.

There are occasional slips into melodic or timbral cliché, such as in "Asya," an otherwise lovely flute, spike fiddle, and frame drum piece that ends with that most trite of New Age/world fusion sounds, the rain stick. The opening track, "Daglara Yükselis," is the only one that uses the strings of the Istanbul Senfonisi. The Iva Bittova-inspired vocals on this one promise more than the somewhat formulaic piece delivers. "Mahur" is one of those skippy, floaty numbers that is just barely spared from the saccharine by its creative use of percussion and konnokol. On the strong side is "Kervan," a sandy, sinuous desert piece with flute, tar, and a plucky kanun ostinato. Baktagir emulates the sound of the koto on "Ipek Yolu," a quiet, delicate china teacup of a piece. The controlled freneticism of the short last track, "Azerbaycan," puts a decisive period at the end of a somewhat drifting but well-executed sentence. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available from cdRoots

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