So, here’s a review for a record that has been out for about two months. It hasn’t been ignored, actually the first draft of this review dates back to March 15. What happened since then? I sat back and listened, then listened again. And again.
When the previews to Gonjasufi’s debut album were posted, they definitely got me excited. Still, I did not expect to be as overwhelmed as when the needle first dropped on my fresh copy of A Sufi And A Killer. One might say with Gaslamp Killer, Flying Lotus and Mainframe involved on production, what else would you expect. I expected good, more than good actually, but I was surprised to hear the timeless masterpiece this has become.
Gonjasufi has been doing music for more than a decade, his first release dates back to 1995, an album from a group called Kilowattz. There are several more outfits mentioned in his discography and I can’t tell you anything about them. I have first heard of Gonjasufi, as most of you, when he sang on the Los Angeles album by Flying Lotus – and thought he was a woman.
05. She Gone.
08. Kowboyz & Indians
13. Love Of Reign
18. I’ve Given
20. Dobermins (hidden track)
Here we are, two years later and the first Gonjasufi album is out on Warp Records. The largest portion of the record was produced by William Benjamin Bensussen, you know him better as Gaslamp Killer. He’s probably the key ingredient for making A Sufi And A Killer into a tour de force. Everybody who has heard a DJ set from Gaslamp Killer knows he isn’t shy to drop a tune from Can, Led Zeppelin or some obscure Turkish funk records.
For the album, he dug out music from Erkin Koray, widely regarded as the first Turkish rock musician – and widely unknown outside his country, though featured in Fatih Akin’s music documentary Crossing the Bridge. His music is used in at least three tracks (Klowdz, Kobwebz and I’ve Given). Other tracks borrow from Las Grecas (Kowboys & Indians) and even Hendrix’ “Hey Joe” (Dobermins).
Vocally, Gonjasufi ranges somewhere between Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart and a male version of Beth Gibbons‘ fragile voice. The Mainframe produced “Candylane” even reminds of Dudley Perkins or Plantlife. Combined with the music, that leaves you with one of the most powerful and versatile albums of recent years.
Psych rock in new clothes, a modern interpretation of trip hop, an eye-opener for never before heard music. Call it what you want, A Sufi and A Killer combines the old and the new like no other. A serious contender for album of the year!
In a perfect world, you already know everything I wrote in this belated review. If you haven’t had a chance yet to get a copy, you can buy the album on CD, 2-LP and as digital download. Also make sure to visit Gonjasufi’s trippy website.
August 16, 2010 Warp Records recently announced the remix album The Caliph’s Tea Party, due in October 2010!