It’s January and I know everybody’s transitioning from retrospective into expectant mode. Nonetheless here comes one more throwback to the whole year 2023 - yet merely focussed on only one group this time. Different than usual this review isn’t about one release, but a whole four-part series of seven inches which Kara Delik released from February to December of last year.
This quartet of EPs now adds up to an album’s worth of thirteen tracks, which put together make a pretty cohesive whole, even though they cover quite a wide range of styles. You think that the “Post Punk + Krautrock + Anatolian Rock + Dub” description you may or may not have read above is a bit of a mouthful as a classification? Well, I actually held myself back there, since I probably have no clue what influences inspired this international trio from Berlin half of the time anyway. And no matter how many genre pointers I give you, I’m sure Kara Delik will still surprise you with a different sound than what you’re imagining.
Let’s start with the line-up! While vocal duty (English and Turkish) is shared by everyone, instrumentally we have a drummer (Eilis Frawley), a bass and synth player (Andi Sommer) and… please fill in the blank: ____ No, that’s not a guitar! Instead Barış Öner plays the saz, which actually is a whole family of long-necked lutes common in many parts of South-Eastern Europe and Asia. I assume Kara Delik use an electric bağlama, but please don’t take my amateur word for it! With its characteristic sound and tuning it gives everything a foundation in Anatolian Folk vibes. But from there on the music takes many electric, electronic, experimental shapes.
Starting with lots of echo echo echo echo on drums and vocals we immediately find ourselves in a world of Oriental Dub in “Strange Attractor”. Eilis’ sharp half speaking voice however adds a flair of Post Punk. In connection with the highly Psychedelic string sounds I also cannot help but think of the Swedish collective Goat here. With deep male vocals taking the center stage “Iterations” would probably feel like a New Wave track, if there wasn’t that hypnotic Future Jazz beat and the (I almost said guitar) riff, which for the first of several times opens the door to the microtonal shenanigans of Australian multi-genre madmen King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard.
The second EP, released in April, continues with three shorter tracks. “Dogs” is a weird but super cool piece of Post Rock Beat Poetry, “Hayvan an energetic dynamic Turkish Kraut cracker with a groovy polyrhythmic backbone, and “Eclipse” is a delightfully straight-forward Psych Punk banger. But the thing with all these songs is that even when they only last two or three minutes, they still move through six or seven different stages, which quickly makes every attempt of a clear stylistic definition futile. Which of course is a very good thing - and in my book actually a crucial part of the group’s attraction.
It’s September now and this time the band gives us four more new pieces to enjoy. Starting with a long saz intro “Kısa Hava” strongly pronounces the Folkloristic element, but also marks the greatest approximation to Pop appeal with catchy vocal melodies and a more standardized song structure than on previous tracks. Still too strange for radio, no worries! The following three songs definitely get more crazy again with Gizzms, Lizardisms and TropicalFuckStormisms, hard-running grooves, a healthy amount of controlled chaos and maybe also my favorite little analogue synth passage of the whole lot.
With the vocals being the almost apathic eye of the storm “Stones” once again juxtaposes thirst for adventure with relaxation, while “Keep It Business” fully commits to the first and “Gece” is grounded in the latter, but grows into a potentially pretty grandiose Psych Rock epic. Potentially, because admittedly this one really calls for a longer version beyond the physical restriction of the seven inch format. The closer of these last Singularities comes full circle with a throwback throwback throwback to the Dub sound of “Strange Attractor” within a remix of “Dogs”. Well, if that isn’t almost like a command to start from the beginning again!
No matter if you only pick one or two of them or the whole package: All the Singularities are fun stuff. Kara Delik are great genre-crossers and culture-connectors with an intriguing sound that very much makes you want to experience them live. And if you’re living in Europe you might be lucky enough to get the chance soon, since they’re on the road right now. Or you only just missed them as you’re reading this. In that case sorry! That’s on me then for not reviewing them earlier.