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Mehmet Aslan
The Sun Is Parallel Jeremy Allen , November 28th, 2022 09:28

A thrilling debut from the Swiss-Turkish musician, finds Jeremy Allen

The Sun Is Parallel may be one of the finest debuts of 2022, though it seems odd to credit Mehmet Aslan as a debutante when his rising star set off into the heavens several moons ago. The Berlin-based, Swiss-Turkish DJ memorably reworked ‘Mechanical Turk’ by the chess-obsessed Romanian synthpop outfit Karpov Not Kasparov in 2014, and he’s released a number of 12”s since then and rocked Istanbul and Abu Dhabi for Boiler Room, to note just a few of his activities.

None of this is likely to prepare you for the accomplishment of The Sun Is Parallel though. Mixing traditional Turkish and Middle Eastern folk with electro might not be anything new (the dabke of Omar Souleyman; the sonic métissage of Acid Arab, to name but two), but the dovetailing of elements is done with such tasteful panache that at times the cohesive tapestry is simply breathtaking. The textural synthesis works best on tracks with live instrumentation: the distorted break beats of Alican Tezer on ‘Domo’ enhanced by vacillating arpeggios and all nailed down by the spaghetti western guitar twang of Daniel Pankau.

The flamenco singer Niño de Elche heightens the drama on ‘Tangerine’, with Pankau dampening guitar lines as an ominous drone of doom builds the awesomeness as we move into ‘Tangerine Sun’, the second part of the suite. Much sought after drummer-composer Valentina Magaletti also enters the fray, bringing an almost free jazz sensibility to ‘Garden’, though the waves of ambient synths take it to a place that’s even more otherworldly.

There’s a playfulness and a capriciousness to ‘The Sun Is Parallel’, with enough corridors leading to different dimensions to cause a welcome sense of disorientation. The acid funk of ‘Rowndbass Acid’ is followed by an abstract soundscape called ‘If I Can Belong Anywhere’; with the denouement, ‘Everyone Is Also You’ (it’s title taken from an earlier James Baldwin sample) collapsing in on itself like a disintegration loop.

Perhaps the only thing that doesn’t quite work is the use of samples from James Baldwin and R. Murray Schafer; the album seems to espouse openness, understanding, internationalism – laudable but amorphous aims, with the recordings feeling like the aural equivalent of conspicuously-placed brainy quotes. Aside from that small qualm, Aslan is clearly a sonic connoisseur, which is evident in the music he makes. The music by itself speaks volumes. More volumes please, monsieur Aslan.