Blues Guitar of the Crimea: The Art of Enver İzmailov

© dontworry with CCLicense

© dontworry with CCLicense

Enver İzmailov majored in bassoon, but found his true voice with the electric guitar, evolving his own technique by tapping on the strings with his fingertips rather than strumming or picking. Was the sound of bassoon articulation, made by putting the tongue against the reed, influential in developing this style? Stanley Jordan developed a similar technique, but İzmailov was unaware of him as a student in Uzbekistan. The skill is called tapping and is put to great use in the video below from the 2006 Mamakabo festival in Tomsk. Note how both hands are on the neck of the guitar most of the time.

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Video via lubagt on YouTube.

İzmailov’s music blends together jazz, blues, and rock with Tatar, Turkish, Uzbeki, Balkan and even Indian folk music. The mixture creates something that defies classification and ranges widely in mood. Many of his pieces are written in very wild time signatures prevalent in Balkan and central Asian music, such as 11/8, 11/16 and 13/16, a far cry from the 3/4, 4/4 and 6/8 which western audiences are so used to. His music also includes rhythmic vocalization of a kind which is standard in Balkan and Roma music, as you heard in the previous video. He uses loops to accompany his virtuosity, something he learned years ago when playing weddings for people who couldn’t afford a band.

Crimea (dark green), now part of Ukraine (light green) © Wikimedia Commons Atlas of the World

Crimea (dark green), now part of Ukraine (light green)
© Wikimedia Commons Atlas of the World

What makes the blues resonate with İzmailov? His parents were Crimean Tatars, deported from their homes in the Ukraine by decree in 1944. The Sürgünlik, or exile, loaded all Tatars on to cattle trains for destinations in the Uzbek SSR, Kazakh SSR, Siberia and other parts of the Soviet Union on the pretext that all Tatars were Nazi collaborators, despite the fact that many had served valiantly in the Russian army. Soldiers were discharged and placed in labor camps. Almost half of those “resettled” died from malnutrition and disease. Stalin feared that the former state of Crimea, once a major power aligned with the Ottoman Empire and a center of Islamic culture presided over by descendants of Genghis Khan, might rise up against him. He decided to break them before that happened. It did not help the Tatars that the Crimea is incredibly beautiful, a place where Russian nobility had once taken luxurious vacations. Crimean Tatars would not begin to return to their home until the Perestroika movement took hold. İzmailov himself, born in exile in 1955, came home in 1989.

İzmailov won first prize in the First European International Guitarist Competition and was voted Musician Of The Year 1995 in the Ukraine. Albums include: At A Fergana BazaarThe Eastern Legend, Kara Deniz/Black Sea with Burhan Öçal, Dancing Over The Moon with Geoff Warren,Yarimada/Peninsula, Minaret with the Crimea Art Trio, With My Best Wishes!, and Around the Black Sea.

In the video below you can see his humor and ear for the world around him as he mimics car horns, airplanes, motorcycles and various animals with his guitar. The cow kills me every time.

Video via VVildDrive on YouTube.

Cool Noise: Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and Giorgio Moroder

© CarlosMatallanaDiaz with CCLicense

© CarlosMatallanaDiaz with CCLicense

Daft Punk became popular in the 1990s and is credited with some of the biggest hits of the French house music scene, including Phoenix and Rollin’ and Scratchin’. Audiences in the United States probably know them best for One More Time. The electronic music duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter is known for its theatrical showmanship as well as its musical virtuosity, performing in iconic android costumes featuring helmets that are the epitome of cool. Their shows also feature impressive lighting displays and strong visual and story-telling elements.

It has been a few years since Daft Punk produced an album, but their newest offering, Random Access Memories, becomes available May 21st. This album is creating some exciting buzz as Daft Punk, in partnership with The Creator’s Project, has collaborated with famous electronic musicians to create something new, often hearkening back to previous decades and to more acoustic music. This is a great example of crossing genres to find new styles. I can’t wait to hear what they have cooked up! Here is a little taste, featuring robots in the desert, something that Synkroniciti wholeheartedly embraces.

Video via PoufyGB on YouTube.

The next video, the first of a series produced by The Creator’s Project about the new album, is an interview with award winning producer and electronic musician Giorgio Moroder, famous for his work with many recording artists, including disco hits with Donna Summer, and for his film scores, which include Midnight Express, Flashdance, Scarface and Top Gun. Listen to him tell you about how he first met the synthesizer and how he and Donna Summer created hits like Love to Love You, Baby. He is among the collaborators that Daft Punk selected for Random Access Memories and he has a great deal of praise for the work and its creators. So much coolness in one place!

Video via CreatorsProject on YouTube.