Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Tree of Patience

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On his first album in several years, Turkish multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek stays mostly with what seem to be his primary instruments: the ney and the kavala, both of them end-blown flutes from his native region. What might give the experienced listener pause is the fact that the press materials describe Tekbilek as a "peacemaker and a virtuoso." If there's one thing listeners have learned, it's that musicians who regard themselves as "peacemakers" tend to be more concerned with peace than with music -- and while peace is surely more important than music, a desire to promote peace doesn't often translate into CDs that are worth buying. Artists with a social/spiritual agenda are nothing new on the White Swan label, but they usually temper their transcendence with funky beats. Not Tekbilek. While his music is far from arrhythmic, it's also not very rhythmically interesting -- with the notable exception of "Elation," a jazzy number that owes quite a bit to Darol Anger/Mike Marshall-style new acoustic music, and owes its guitar lick to Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved." Other tracks are quite pretty and richly textured without being especially interesting: the kanun is lovely on "Why," and "Ghizemli" is dark and beautiful, but the title track is monotonous and overlong, and on "Adanam" he forgot the single most important rule of non-dorky-music-making: children's choirs are always -- always -- a bad idea. Tekbilek's fans won't be disappointed, but those with a more casual interest may not get terribly excited about this one.

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