Various Artists

Ashiklar: Folk Music of Turkey

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Ashiklar, Those Who Are in Love is an album with a story behind it which is as interesting as the music it presents. The audio document of a film project by David Grabias, it is a series of recordings of the Ashiks, a dying society of ecstatic poets and musicians who were part of a Shi'a Sufi sect called the Alevis. Persecuted by the Ottomans 100 years ago and by fundamentalist Muslims today, the Alevis are also threatened by the transition of the Turkish economy and population centers away from the villages and into cities. The old-time Ashiks were travelling bards of sorts, supported by donations and tips from the communities that they visited, where they would perform in homes and festivals and in small religious ceremonies. Their songs focused on spiritual and devotional themes, and later, when they began to be persecuted, the music took on protest and political themes. The music captured on this album has elements of all of these themes and documents the last few Ashiks in existence. Accompanied by the saz, a traditional Turkish lute-like instrument, the singers chant and sing relatively simple melodies with reverent tones. Soothing and hypnotic, it provides both a pleasant listening experience and a window into a vanishing culture.

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