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Friday, May 19, 2006



Mercan Dede "Nefes"

Istanbul's Doublemoon label has staked out a rep as one of the most progressive world-music labels. Their best-selling artist is also their most unique: Mercan Dede, a producer/DJ/musician who, like Talvin Singh, is equally comfortable in both traditional and modern contexts, usually at the same time.

On his fifth album, "Nefes (Breath)," Dede plunges ever deeper into the realm of Sufi electronica that he calls his own, mixing the mystical sounds of the ney flute, qanoon (a flat, zither-type instrument) and pulsing frame drums with ambient atmospherics and sleek, sequenced basslines and beats. Dede is capable of getting the best of both worlds -- the free, ecstatic solos by the live musicians spiral around a molten core of tight, hypnotic grooves. Meanwhile, Dede's ney playing burns with the spiritual fire of Sufism -- passionate, entrancing and entirely focused. His philosophy is illustrated perfectly on the album's second track, "Dem." As guest vocalist Azam Ali caresses the lyrics, every instrument on the track seeks to drive the piece home, drums building in a slow arc, guitar spinning lightly around the voice and the ney seemingly falling from the skies above. Destination, unknown.

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