* Double LP. 500 copies * Since its founding in 2006, the German imprint, Karl Records, has become an important vehicle for radical, creative gestures in sound. Bridging the historical and contemporary, they’ve delivered incredible releases by Muhal Richard Abrams, Zeitkratzer, Ernstalbrecht Stiebler, Audrey Chen, Iannis Xenakis, Hanno Leichtmann, Guy Reibel, Keiji Haino, Yasunao Tone, and numerous others. Running like spine through the imprint’s discography is the output of Konstrukt, the Turkish free jazz founded by the multi-instrumentalist, Umut Çağlar, in 2008. Known for their wild sounds and rigorous creativity that foregrounds an unbridled spirit of collaboration, we’re absolutely thrilled to have their latest from Karl - “Dolunay” - finally in our hands. A long overdue, first ever vinyl release of recordings that date from their first year of activity locked in conversation with none other than the legendary German free jazz saxophonist, Peter Brötzmann, it’s a stunning piece of work - tense and full of rigor - that illuminates all the glories of cross-cultural improvised music in the current global scene.
Despite the fact that free jazz remains one of the great musical vocabularies for cross-cultural conversation, and the practice of improvisation has deep roots in traditional Turkish music, we rarely encounter a meeting of these two worlds. Beyond the seminal work of Okay Temiz, be it on his own or in collaborations with Don Cherry, Johnny Dyani, Mongezi Feza, and others, we’ve rarely been offered access to this intuitively logical conjunction of sound. This all changed in 2008 with the founding of the ensemble, Konstrukt, by the guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Umut Çağlar. Gathering an incredible group of improvisers around him - Korhan Argüden on drums, Özün Usta on bass, and Korhan Futacı on reeds, with a host of other player coming in and out - the project rapidly came to set the pace and perceptions of free improvised music from Turkey, producing an astounding body of releases for Holidays Records, Astral Spirits, Omlott, Re:konstruKt, and Karl, among others, over the last decade and a half.
A quick scan of Konstrukt’s activities over the years illuminates the central place of cross-cultural collaboration in the band’s modus operandi. The band’s discography reads like a who’s who of global improvisers, including Thurston Moore, Otomo Yoshihide, Evan Parker, Marshall Allen, Joe McPhee, Akira Sakata, William Parker, Keiji Haino, and Ken Vandermark, to name only a few. Among the most important of these is legendary German free jazz saxophonist, Peter Brötzmann, who was among the first to enter the band’s fold, taking center stage on a number of their releases over the years.
Brötzmann, of course, needs little introduction. Since the late 1960s he has been a driving force within the German, European, and global scenes of free improvised music. Often characterized by his furious and aggressive sound - pitch perfect for the countercultural movement into which he first emerged - those with a more intimate understanding of the saxophonist’s efforts with understand that there is a lot more to his practice than might first meets the ear. Brötzmann is careful listener who is always willing to make space for those with whom he plays, in addition to being among the most willing of his generation to engage, via collaboration, with a vast range of players from diverse backgrounds. These aspects of his practice that are particularly drawn into the light by his work with Konstrukt, notably across the length of “Dolunay”, his debut release with the ensemble that was originally issued in 2011 as CD, now receiving, via Karl, its much needed first vinyl release as stunning double LP.
Recorded by Konstrukt in their most natural state - Çağlar on guitar, Argüden on drums, Usta on bass, and Futacı on reeds - during November of 2008 in Istanbul, with Brötzmann on sax and clarinet, “Dolunay” is a stunning and surprising piece of work, comprising six improvised compositions across its four side. While remarkably open and collaborative - unfolding in real time - the mix of the album, encountering Brötzmann fairly forward in the mix, establishes a striking dynamic that fairly unique within his discography, with Konstrukt building sheets of tonally rich texture - at times bordering on noise - behind the veteran saxophonist’s versatile playing, which shifts between a soulfully that nods toward spiritual jazz and profoundly emotive, hard blow fire that seems to plumb the very depths of his being. Cohesive, direct, and immediate, the totality of “Dolunay” has an unmistakable creative brilliance, while stepping slightly adjacent to what listeners have come to expect of free jazz. While each player feels equal and completely free, there’s also a sense that Konstrukt are working in unison to push Brötzmann forward toward uncharted realms and allowing him to soar.
A howling furious and thrilling listen from start to finish, “Dolunay” features some of the most engaging playing that Brötzmann and Konstrukt - together or respectively - have laid to tape in recent years. It’s impossible to express how excited we are to bear witness to a long overdue vinyl release of this beauty. Truly amazing, what free jazz is all about, and not to be missed, Karl has only pressed it in a 500 copy edition, so not to be slept on.