BaBa ZuLa

Origins: Turkey
Styles: Neo-folk,  psychedelic, acid folk, world groove
Discography: 2017 – XX
2017 – XX Dub
2014 – 34 Oto Sanayi
2010 – Gecekondu
2007 – Kökler
2006 – Dondurmam Gaymak
2005 – Duble Oryantal (with Mad Professor)
2003 – – Ruhani Oyun Havaları (with Mad Professor)
1999 – Üç Oyundan Onyedi Müzik
1996 – Tabutta Rövaşata
Web Site: www.babazula.com
YouTube Channel
Turkey has long been an exotic land to the Western world. BaBa ZuLa is even more exotic. Passionately Turkish in their devotion to their culture’s traditional music, there is also in their music a heady dose of late 60s psychedelic and early 70s prog-rock.

I only discovered BaBa ZuLa in 2015. How in the world I missed them for so long is beyond my comprehension. BaBa ZuLa is everything I search for and love about world fusion music: roots in traditional music, embracing of new technologies, willingness to experiment, political awareness, and a passion for creativity. They are not terribly obscure, relatively speaking, so the fault is all mine.

Founded in 1996 by Murat Ertel and Levent Akman, BaBa ZuLa has over the years been joined by Özgür Çakırlar, Periklis Tsoukalas, and Melike Şahin. BaBa ZuLa mixes electrified Turkish instruments such as the saz and ud with a wide variety of percussion. They use little to no synthesizers, but do use machines to dub many tracks. Dub, Sufi, gypsy, and pre-Islamic Turkish music all add to the mix.

The band describes what they do in this way:

Despite sounds that might initially come to mind when one hears a phrase like “Oriental Dub” BaBa ZuLa’s music is in fact Psychedelic Istanbul Rock’n Roll that rolls in a way that westerners haven’t heard so frequently since the late ’60s rock epoch.They are the unrivalled masters of 21st century Turkish psychedelic music BaBa ZuLa share their legacy with us through their music, a music born out of Istanbul and influenced by the memories of Istanbul passed on to them from generations past.

What that blurb doesn’t mention is the intensity of their live shows. They are Turkish, so no surprise that they have belly dancers, often three or more. But it is in live shows is where their psychedelia truly flowers. See for yourself how BaBa ZaLua outjams all others as they were in 2010, and after adding singer Melike Şahin in 2015.

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