R.A.N. | Şeb-i Yelda
Berlin-based Turkish artist Hüma Utku, better known as R.A.N. (short for Roads at Night) releases her first recording since 2015 with a four track 12″ EP, Şeb-i Yelda – and it opens with the title track. A disgorged drone roams freely, and its bloated mane crisscrosses through the entire sound space in bulky air-infused layers. The atmosphere initially finds equity between the ambient and the industrial. Here and there its encrusted with a sparse cragged percussive effect until a beat is formed, and you suddenly start to experience why this is a crystal clear 12″ rather than another format. Utku adds something akin to a high-hat and other beat-adjacent rhythms, all the while a mysterious discord on traditional musics of the Middle East emerge, but done with restraint in the underbelly of an otherwise funky exterior. The track concludes with something akin to foam being ejected and a ball bearing rattling to punctuate the end. These tracks run for nearly twenty three minutes, but each has it’s own personality.
On Ay, a drone is looped and broken by staccato silences while melodic keys play a series of sweet chords. It’s title, meaning the ‘moon’, becomes quite literally a post-apocalyptic anthem, and conjures countless scenes of unrest. It’s delicate nature vs. the horrors of societal tumult offers an impassioned vignette. Sabah is either like a hive or a waterway in the rain, a foghorn or an elongated throat singer emoting on Swiss longhorn leads to a chugging dark beat. It’s a heavy yet controlled track with a destination unknown. R.A.N.‘s electronics are stealthy, complex, and quite gutsy. Though her contorted multi-layered mix offers a denser feel, the sense that she’s sculpting dark matter for the lower masses manifests. Voices are stringed instruments are voices, are cries of her people.
Lastly on Kul (aka ‘The Servant’) a more fluid ghostly drone emerges alongside a muted voice, it’s a dark ambient blended with traditional music based on her own heritage. A delicate play between light and dark offers a certain dramatic patina. It’s a stunning piece sans the beat-laden central tracks on this recording, far more centered, evoking a destitute spirit of sorts. It’s all-quieting and her use of echo effects like the voices of children in a distant cavernous space are effectively ominous and quite haunting.
The EP seems to want to blend a few different atmospheres into one fairly short recording, offering the listener a breathy range of style and substance. Though I can imagine this done, elongated over the course of a full-length more effortlessly. In other words she has packed a lot into these twentysomething minutes. After all the title translates into the ‘longest night’ – so this indicatively yearns for an serious extension. I guess wanting more is not at all a negative. This isn’t a ‘kitchen sink’ record with every last bit of effects wielding thrown in, quite the contrary, Utku‘s restraint is notable.
This review is part of Womens Work Week – a celebration of international women working in experimental and electronic music genres. If you enjoy this review you may also be interested in one of these additional releases that we are covering this week on Toneshift.net:
- Catherine Christer Hennix | Selected Early Keyboard (Scotland)
- Kajsa Lindgren | Distorted Worlds (Sweden)
- Yoko Ono | Warzone (Japan/US)
- R.A.N. | Şeb-i Yelda (Turkey/Germany)
- Ipek Gorgun | Ecce Homo (Turkey)
- Map 71 | Void Axis (UK)
- Sonae | Wearing Black Remixes (Germany)
- Olivia Block | 132 Ranks (US)
- Vanessa Tomlinson | The Inside Space (Australia)
- Julia Reidy | Beholder (Australia/Germany)
- Jlin | Music from Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography (US)