Cross-cultural collaborations are ten a penny these days, but here’s one that’s a little different: a Kurdish singer with a pair of Danish musicians, with lyrics in Kurdish, Turkish, and Danish.
It’s a mix that works remarkably well, with plenty of imaginative arrangements that emphasize the Middle Eastern, rather than the Danish elements, while the sparing use of guests to brings shadings of color to the tracks. And then the real secret weapon: singer Luna Ersahin, a woman whose own heritage is divided between two cultures.
It’s a very digital album, crisp and punchy in its sound, often with the percussion very much to the fore to give plenty of propulsion the tracks. That’s especially evident in “Asiti,” where the percussion is broadly and subtly employed to give support to Ersahin’s commanding voice.
The musicians are excellent, and the guests do bring a different, analogue warmth with flute and double bass. But there’s little doubt that Ersahin is the star of the show. She possesses a charismatic voice that can swiftly move from sensual teasing through to full-blooded ululation, with the kind of timble that captures the ear.
She’s at her very best on the title track (which means ‘water flows’ in Turkish), with its nagging, insistent fiddle riff. She is a woman in complete control, modulating and shifting her vocal as she pulls the music along with her.
It’s the type of bravura performance she repeats on “Kader Olsun” (live video below) moving between a kittenish playfulness and aching longing, letting her voice blossom over a guitar playing like an oud. It’s utterly majestic.
Su Akar makes for an impressive debut. When the band really hits, they do it with force and passion. There’s still a way to go, though, before they’re the complete article. They’re still learning and growing. The real test will come next time, and it could be incendiary.
Find the ensemble online.
"Kader Olsun" Live at Thingbæk Kalkminer