Burhan Ocal and Trakya All Stars, featuring Smadj - Trakya Dance Party
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Burhan Ocal and Trakya All Stars, featuring Smadj
Trakya Dance Party
Doublemoon (www.doublemoon.com.tr)

The latest collaboration between Turkish percussionist/pianist Burhan Ocal and French producer/programmer Smadj is a good one, combining the Roma (Gypsy) sounds of Turkey's Thrace region with sturdily supportive electronic gloss. As the place where the Balkans meet the Middle East, Thrace is characterized by a combination of sounds from both. A thickly entwined push of percussion, strings, brass and reeds, often in 9/8 time, propels each song as Smadj's techno overlays dart about along the edges or match the deftness of the rhythms for a true symbiosis of old and new. Regardless of the "Dance Party" tag, some of this comes across ominous-sounding, particularly when Smadj darkens the tone a bit. Ultimately it's a joyous disc, though. Ocal's percussion crackles smartly, such Turkish instruments as the zurna and cumbus fit snugly with more familiar violin and clarinet, the vocals of Burcu Bas radiate with a worldly quality that belies her young age and grabbers like the drum-and-electronics duet of "Conversations With Smadj" provide an unconventional boost. I'd love to see how they dance to this in Thrace, but just listening to the CD is pleasure enough. - Tom Orr

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