To establish new frontiers within the confines of tradition can often be discomforting and eventually disastrous, but for a select few artists, it can be infinitely rewarding. The spectacle of renovation is like quicksand – without the proper recognition of artistic boundaries, one cannot hope to break away from them. The İstanbul duo Büyük Ev Ablukada’s magnificent second album, “FIRTINAYT,” reflects exactly this sensibility – the album is a full-scale exploration of what Turkish rock music is and, more exactly, what it can be. Büyük Ev Ablukada don’t just prove that they are a major force in contemporary Turkish music, but are also heralding the dawn of a new era – the time of disco, as one may call it, is upon us.
The duo first rose to prominence with their 2012 debut, “Full Faça,” and quickly became a favorite in the new alternative music scene that was taking shape. Their debut was a solid record, original in its interpretation of Turkish rock, but fairly conventional in its understanding of tradition – it did not show much concern with refining and redefining genre-based conceptions. With their second album, the duo is not only breaking sonic boundaries with perfect joint compositions of synth and guitar, but also displaying a distinct sensibility in Turkish music – one that refuses to be boring. The album is a kaleidoscope of musical arrangement, containing multitudinous facets – across songs like “Arayan Bulur” and “Hepsine Ne Fena,” the duo is able to encapsulate several tracks within one unified sound.
“FIRTINAYT” is as close to a concept album as Turkish music has ever produced – the album’s nine songs dwell on the theme of being lost and found. Not only is this theme reflected in the titular track “Arayan Bulur”; it is produced and reproduced throughout the record’s 47 minutes of playing time. In “Evren Bozması,” the duo sings without hope, over and over again, “Come and find me,” before breaking to the most stunning synth arrangement on the album. It is at exactly this moment, coming at the 3.30 mark of the song, that Büyük Ev lays their “FIRTINAYT” manifest – the album is a palace built from disappointment and heartbreak, waiting patiently for us. Once we are inside this meticulous structure, we realize that it is far from depressing – it is in fact a return to joy, an undead disco.
“FIRTINAYT” does, however, come with some minimal flaws. “Boşluk” and “Benim Kafam *** Gitmiş” disturb the organic flow of the album, arguably taking away from its effectiveness as a stand-alone project. Given the cult-like following “Full Faça” generated, “FIRTINAYT” was highly anticipated by dedicated fans and casual listeners alike. In this sense, the second album’s sharp break from the preceding one might come across as divisive and obscure and, ultimately, a contravention of their artistic promise – however, the album must be regarded as a testament to Büyük Ev Ablukada’s impressive talent. The album in itself reflects Büyük Ev’s unapologetic behavior in being true to themselves – a quality that can be attributed only to genuinely undaunted visionaries.
The essential allure of a second album is a dangerous attraction – a metaphoric wildfire. If it is too similar to the debut, the artists have evidently failed to take the necessary risks and ended up repeating themselves. But if they let it drift too far from the first project, they get lost and become unbearably self-indulgent. “FIRTINAYT” stands at the perfect halfway point of this dichotomy, and sees the musicians of Büyük Ev Ablukada emerging from the other side of this spectacle as true visionaries. With an impeccable mixture of tradition and futurist ambition, Büyük Ev Ablukada finds its sound without looking any further.