“Music from manywhere.” No, that’s not a type. That is how the recently released self-titled debut from The Turbans is described by percussionist Cabbar Baba. It’s a fitting description, too. That’s because the 11-song, 50-minute record — released March 23 via Six Degrees Records — presents to audiences, music from many parts of the world. What’s more the group’s members come from around the world, too. Not in the same fashion as Playing for Change, but still very similar. That multiculturalism, both in its members and its sound makes this first effort from the international outfit an interesting effort that is well worth hearing. This is proven right from the album’s outset in ‘Riders.’ It will be discussed shortly. The album’s third entry, the full-on instrumental opus ‘Zawi’ also serves to support that statement. ‘Hackney,’ the album’s closer, also supports that statement, and will be discussed a bit later. Between these songs and those not directly addressed here, The Turbans, with its multicultural sound and its positive messages, proves to be a solid start for The Turbans and potentially one of this year’s top new World Music offerings.
The recently released self-titled debut album from multicultural musical organization The Turbans is a solid start for the group and potentially one of this year’s top new World Music offerings. That is proven right from the album’s outset in ‘Riders.’ The song’s musical arrangement, with its Middle Eastern sound wastes no time grabbing listeners’ ears. Its opening bars present a very mysterious vibe that leave listeners wondering where the song will go. Things pick up very quickly from there, with it being driven both by its percussion and string elements. Those elements in themselves do plenty to keep listeners engaged, too. Lyrically, the song does just as much to keep listeners interested. That is because it focuses on the band’s travels between Goa, India and the United Kingdom. Vocalist Pavlos Mavromatakis sings here, “Here in the hippie quarters/We play the gypsy tunes/Your eyes came to mind/Again they dazzled me big time/Come along my darling girl/Even if you are barefoot and half-dressed/There is no one else but you/Let’s roam away/You and me/Eternal riders/Nothing stands in our way/Full-time festive fun/Gypsies without tents and lands.” Now, considering this lyrical content, one might think that the song is a romance about two people running off together. The reality is that it is in general a light-hearted piece that celebrates simply living the nomadic life of sorts. When this is set alongside the song’s musical arrangement, the two together make this song a work that is also an impressive first impression for the band, period. It is only one of the positive impressions that the band makes on this, The Turbans’ debut album. The album’s third entry, the full-on instrumental ‘Zawi’ is another work that shows what makes this album so impressive.
‘Zawi,’ like ‘Riders,’ is another positive impression for The Turbans because of its musical arrangement. Unlike that song, there is no lyrical content here to decipher. Rather, the message is in the music. The message is, obviously another message of optimism and positive vibes. That is inferred through a comment from band member Oshan Mahony about the band and its mission. “The only message we try to put across is that we believe in on people. We want to play for everybody,” Mahony said. “We want to show that it’s okay to be who you are. We believe in a world without borders, and it seems to be ringing true with people.” Playing for everybody is exactly what the band does here as it blends traditional European and Middle Eastern elements with modern guitar riffs for a work that speaks volumes with just a collection of notes. The guitar riffs, likely developed by Mahony sound just like so many riffs from any of today’s guitar players. They just have a distinct Middle Eastern flair, and that’s actually quite good because of their infectious nature. The more traditional elements brought into the song conjure thoughts of Jewish compositions. It really is an interesting juxtaposition of sounds that in its own right serves to highlight exactly what Mahony was saying. If such distinctly different musical styles can come together and create one impressive whole, then it’s okay for different cultures to come together as one. Considering this, that message (intended or not) combined with the overall catchy arrangement presented here, shows yet again why The Turbans is a strong start for The Turbans. It is just one more of the works that shows what makes this LP a good first impression for The Turbans. ‘Hackney,’ the album’s finale is one more way in which the album proves that statement.
‘Hackney,’ like the previously noted songs, shows how much The Turbans has to offer in part through its musical arrangement. The arrangement, again driven through traditional European and Middle Eastern musical elements, presents a positive energy that is certain to put a smile on any listeners’ face. It’s just one part of what makes this song so fun (and accessible). Its positive lyrical theme plays into its presentation, too. The song is a tribute to London’s Hackney district, where each of The Turbans’ members has lived. The district is also a key musical center of the United Kingdom. As is sung so fondly here, “10 long years I’ve been leaving here/You have always been like mother and father to me/How many languages do you speak/You’ve been always like university for me/Hackney/No disappointment in Hackney/Always find friends in Hackney/Always lock your bike in Hackney.” Obviously residents of the Hackney district will like this, and with good reason. This is a tribute to that area, and obviously a heartfelt one at that, as these lyrics show. That tribute continues in kind in the song’s second verse, noting one of the best eateries in town and just the town’s greatness. The combination of those positive words and the song’s equally positive, upbeat arrangement makes this tribute to Hackney stand out just as much as the album’s other songs in showing what makes The Turbans so enjoyable. When it is joined with those songs (including the works not directly discussed here), the whole of the album proves to be a presentation that is easily a fun album from start to finish, and in turn, gives great hope for the group’s next album.
The Turbans’ self-titled debut album, released early this past March, is a wonderful start for this multicultural musical organization, whose members hail from Turkey, Bulgaria, Israel, Iran, Greece, Spain and England. That is evidenced in part through the album’s catchy, infectious musical arrangements. They join traditional European and Middle Eastern musical elements with modern elements such as guitars and other instruments to make whole compositions that will easily stick in listeners’ ears. The songs’ positive lyrical themes add even more enjoyment to the album. This includes not only the songs noted here, but overall. From the positive vibes of ‘Riders to the seeming inclusiveness of ‘’Zawi’ to the tributes to family in ‘Sinko Moy’ and ‘Samia’ to the tribute to England’s Hackney district in the album’s closer and more, this record provides so much to like both musically and lyrically. Keeping that in mind, the whole of these positive vibes makes The Turbans a strong start for The Turbans and easily a candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new World Music albums. It is available now in stores and online. More information on The Turbans is available online now along with all of The Turbans’ latest news and more at:
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