These Sacred Songs of Anatolia are a wonder. It is the traditional music of a small sect of Sunnite Islam, the Bektashi, too complicated to explain here but summarized in fascinating detail in the liner notes. Unlike most Sunni Muslims, the Bektashi are not mistrustful of devotional music. Nor is their music so trance-inducing as the Sufi dervishes. The music is typically songs accompanied by the saz, which is a long-neck lute with a bewitching metallic sound. Feyzullah Tchinar ("Ashik" is a title of respect) plays a mean saz. He starts each song with very rhythmic, very compelling riffs to draw you in. Then he sings in his baritone voice. The music is reduced to a few quiet phrases during the chant, but if you follow what's going on and let yourself get pulled in by the mystical intensity, the stride is not broken and a five-minute track will go by in what seems like two minutes. He accompanies himself occasionally with a little foot-stamping or saz-tapping, but the real percussion comes from those four strings. The album never becomes repetitious. Just when you think you've got the pattern, along comes a song like "If My Body Were Cut to Pieces" whose riff features what sounds like a minor-key harmony worthy of Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Anybody interested in the music of the Islamic countries or who just wants a transfiguring experience is advised to check this one out.
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AllMusic Review by Kurt Keefner