Updated: Feb 18
Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
𝙈𝙚𝙧𝙝𝙖𝙗𝙖𝙡𝙖𝙧 - 𝙊𝙜𝙖𝙣 𝘾𝙞𝙝𝙖𝙣 𝙊̈𝙘𝙖𝙡
Charles travels eastwards from London, past Bulgaria but stops short of Syria, to discover a land of mystery and wonder very different from anything he has known or seen before.
I have found myself in the heart of Turkey. Nothing to do with Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner - funny how we use the same word - but actually a beautiful Eastern country where tradition is high and family is all. Alas, I am taken here only in my mind through the sounds of Ogan Cihan Öcal and his latest single, Merhabalar. It is far from usual that I should take a leap into the depths of music about which I know absolutely nothing; and so courageously did I. We are instantly welcomed by Ogan into his home and hometown, hence Merhabalar roughly translating as Hello.
The first thing to draw us in is the percussion - a light Tef (tambourine) and syncopated Dumbek (traditional Turkish drum) tap us through a bare and lacklustre corridor, luring us forth to the main arched chamber, where an abundance of colourful and decorative drapes hang, one over the next. The musicians are revealed in the centre, each with a smile so serene and content. The scale is Eastern but not dark in the slightest. The Kemençe or Black Sea fiddle and Oud (Turkish classical guitar) take the lead-line in unison for the tune’s melody to be truly instated.
Our smiling star casually strolls in with bright confidence, oozing charm and warmth as the Kemençe drops out; Ogan opens his mouth and deftly croons rounded beauty. He has a knack for sculpting words and timing each syllable so precisely and delicately: less like a hot strike, more like a bold stroke. The seas start rolling as the Kanun warms the atmosphere like sparklers around a bonfire. The feeling is close, the mood is warm, our friends are nearby and the harmonies are born. Soon enough, all these therapeutic sounds are back together, completed by the addition of a Bağlama (Turkish guitar) again in unison, and finally a Daf (large narrow drum), to ground the song with a steady pulse.
This would not normally have been the kind of song I would have chosen to listen to, as it is simply beyond my realm. I would never have heard it, had it not been for our playlists. New Artist Spotlight is so diverse, and this is just the sort of case where it promotes things out of the ordinary and pricks one’s ears with something different. I have listened to Ogan’s Merhabalar on repeat and it has truly opened my heart and soul to Eastern music. He has done his roots justice but managed something further. This tune is actually a pop song that can easily resonate with the Western world’s population as well as that of the East. I could actually imagine Merhabalar on a Netflix soundtrack! Ogan has already managed with help from our playlists to be picked for multiple Spotify Editorial playlists and so is finally reaping the benefits from his hard work, dedication and sheer talent.
May he go far! Have a listen yourself and let me know in the comments if it opens YOUR Eastern side.
Ogan Cihan Öcal - a true Turkish delight.
Listen to 𝙈𝙚𝙧𝙝𝙖𝙗𝙖𝙡𝙖𝙧 HERE!
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