Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Orüj Güvenç & Tümata

  • Ocean of Remembrance [Interworld, 1995] A
  • Rivers of One [Interworld, 1997] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Ocean of Remembrance [Interworld, 1995]
Guvenc is a clinical psychologist, practicing musicologist, and Sufi sheik who heads his own department of music therapy at a med school in Istanbul. He's also a warm, intent, unvirtuosic, spiritually contained singer who plays ney (a flute), oud (a lute), and rebab (a three-stringed fiddle). He and his three associates recorded these six pieces during a blizzard in western Massachusetts while fasting for Ramadan. All six are zhikrs, recitations of God's names. Their distinct rhythms are mesmeric rather than exciting, and while they're not the healing music that is Guvenc's lifework, I can testify that they helped get me through a 101-degree fever--and that I love them when I'm straight as well. Sample-ready: the chanted breaths that take over "Allah, Allah, Allah" about 10 minutes in. A

Rivers of One [Interworld, 1997]
Showcasing the Sufi healing music that Güvenç rediscovered--therapeutic rather than the transcendent, longer on flute, with minimal vocals--this comprises three improvisations on the rast makam, a tonality said to promote "inner calmness." As someone who regularly endangers his immune system with electric music, I find it useful at bedtime. But although I dig how assuredly Gulten Uralli pours the water that sets the beat, I sincerely hope the follow-up moves on to the hicaz makam, which "protects and strengthens the urogenital system." A-