TRACES OF ÂŞIK
dede sazi, cura, divan, vocals
A groovy and urban sound, testimony to the poets of Anatolia
Ulaş Özdemir’s third solo album Traces of Âşık, produced in France under Full Rhizome-Buda Musique, rounds up aşık* lyrics from 19th century up to the present day, all sung on his own compositions. Ulaş Özdemir wanders on the poetic paths of contemporary men and women aşıks, and highlights little-known masterpieces. In this album he also presents his own texts. Performing with a dynamic and thrilling style, he plays variety of bağlamas** such as dede sazı, cura and divan.
Freedom troubadours, aşıks held bağlama in their hand across the centuries and the torments of history. They have produced a rich literature impregnated with poetry, spirituality and societal issues. Ulaş Özdemir is inspired by this ancestral heritage and more specifically the Alevi-Bektashi repertoire. He follows the footsteps of a long line of aşıks and perpetuates it today with his own identity, that of an artist living in modern Istanbul, a buzzing megacity, open to new musical influences.
Ulaş Özdemir, from the long line of Anatolian aşıks, sends us a warm and contemporary salute.
**long-necked lute. It is also referred to as saz. This instrument is present among many peoples from Central Asia to the Balkan countries. The Turks use both in popular and spiritual music.
Transglobal World Music Chart
Formed by music critics, Transglobal World Music Chart aims at promoting world music by producing a regular selection of new and innovative albums. In the 2017 list, the Chart selected the album Traces of Âşık, among artists like Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Ségal, Yasmine Hamdan, Oumou Sangaré, Vieux Farka Touré, and Rokia Traoré.
About aşıks and Alevi-Bektashism
Alevi-Bektashism is a significant spiritual movement in Turkey (25% of population) which has been structured over centuries around aşıks, descendant of former shamans from Central Asia. The secular meaning of aşık is “lover”; the spiritual one “communion with the divine”. Among Alevi-Bektashi people, aşıks have a spiritual and social role and lead “cem” ritual with bağlama. During this ceremony, they quote and refer to poems and texts from Alevi-Bektashi literature. Alevi-Bektashism is characterized by his humanist and universal spirit, carrying a message of tolerance and promoting men-women equality.
Born in Maraş (Turkey), Ulaş Özdemir has a PhD in ethnomusicologiy from Yıldız Technical University in Istanbul. He specializes in history and practice of Alevi-Bektashi instruments. In Turkey and abroad, he performs live (instrument and vocals) and frequently takes part in conferences as lecturer.
He has performed and recorded several albums with Ali Akbar Moradi, Kayhan Kalhor, Azam Ali and Niyaz. In collaboration with Sam Karpienia and Bijan Chemirani, he has created the trio FORABANDIT, meeting between contemporary Occitan and Anatolian troubadours which has toured in many festivals and stages.
He worked at Kalan Muzik as producer and production director from 1997 to 2010.
His third book, has been published in 2017 in Kolektif Kitap edition: Senden Gayrı Âşık mı Yoktur: 20. Yüzyıl Âşık Portreleri (Portraits of aşıks from the 20th century).
He currently teaches at the Istanbul National Conservatory.