Progressing from the trip-hop flavors of his debut album A Quiet Mind Awaits, Istanbul’s Anıl Berk Çetin (Badmixday) plunges into different forms of music, informed by jazz and experimentalism. Goya nudges in the direction of a signature sound, a clear sign of maturation.
Save for “Creature Behind the Wall,” which may refer to Goya’s Black Paintings (painted on the walls of the artist’s home), the album seems to have less to do with painting than with the Sufism that informed Çetin’s first album. Brief opener “Lataif-e-sitta” refers to the Six Subtleties of Sufism, described as “psychospritual organs of perception,” and is marked by yearning strings and wordless song. “Gani Babayani” references a state of feeling “free and easy.”
We would have been at a loss choosing a single, as the album – like the last – flows better as a suite. Nevertheless, one has been chosen. “Easy the Kid Not Anymore” is laden with forefront bass and beats and distant organics. A mallet breakdown is followed by high energy rhythms, balanced by saxophone, no surprise to those aware of the artist’s capabilities. The late descent to piano leads to the softer “Lesya Kurbasa,” which is too subtle to work as a single, enchanting through the subtlety of sonic variety and stereo effects. In this piece we appreciate Badmixday as producer as much as composer. A vintage synth offers a riff akin to “Here Comes the Rain Again,” but the percussion is abstract, inviting twirling rather than dancing, which makes sense in light of Sufism’s Whirling Dervishes. Could we be witnessing the birth of a new type of meditation music?
In “Gani Babayani,” it seems as if the early beats have been erased, surfacing only on occasion, giving way to soft spices that leave the more intricate percussion audible. The ears have multiple choices. Shall one follow the bells, or the beats, or the voice that appears again, lost in a trance? “Creature Behind the Wall” confounds expectations once again, seeming to be a straightforward tempo piece until its haunted breakdown. This being said, it would make a solid second single. The larger question is about the intended audience. In normal times, we might ask who beat-driven music might be for, if not for DJs. But now we’re all at home, trying to figure things out, pressed into an inward search for spirituality ~ in many cases, as houses of worship are closed. Blending dancing and devotionalism, Goya opens our own organs of perception, that we might reach a state of purposeful, transcendent bliss. (Richard Allen)