Istanbul-based Tolga Büyük started his solo project islandman in 2010 and has already built quite a name for himself with a slew of self-released EPs & albums. Already a part of Istanbul’s psychedelic scene as part of the live-performing band Farfara; as islandman he builds his style off the rich history of Turkeys psychedelic rock movement while taking it one step further in his own direction.
The Anatolian tradition of fusing the country’s folk music with Western influences has produced a unique legacy of sound, as evident by the discographies of Erkin Koray and Baris Manco for instance. The guitar has long been the weapon of choice for the Anatolian sound, and so too for islandman. But apart from mastering this instrument quite eloquently, he also orchestrates it into a new and different context than merely providing hippie nostalgia. By re-framing the murky and somewhat dusty Anatolian psychedelic sound with a cool mediterranean vibe and a very balearic-friendly production, islandman’s music is the next step in the progression of Anatolian music.
For his first full length outing on Music For Dreams, the previously released digital single “Agit” is included as well as a remix by Berlin-based M.RUX, toning down the heavy guitar dirge of the original in favour of a more bouncier interpretation.
For the most part, the tracks that make up Rest In Space keep a steady pace of around 90-95 bpm. You’d think this might get a bit repetitive, but the journey islandman takes us on across these ten tracks is a rich and ever surprising one, full of quirky turns and mysterious instrumentations.
Opening with “Rest In Space” we are treated to a funky percussion-thick rhythm that lounges into a pool of playful & jazzy horn & flute arrangements. This is followed by the epic “Night Wind” which sweeps across cinematic desert landscapes of synth layers and falls into a dark night time groove reminiscent of Nicolas Jaar & Dave Harrington’s Darkside project.
“Seikleos” centers around a motorik electronic rhythm pattern (not unlike the classic electro-pop classic “Popcorn”) that develops into a chugging balearic house jam, topped off by an occasional flute melody and some distant chanting.
The stunning “Ikaru” wades in through chunks of jungle ambiance and watery percussion to lounge along on a rubbery funk bassline, coupled with a heavy laid back beat and wobbly derelict synth figures.
“Tawhid” is an odd mix of new wave brilliance and prog momentum that breaks into a cascade of pouring rain and surprising percussion breaks.
While mostly offering instrumental tracks, the stand out track “Future Days” brings in a female guest vocalist to complete the album with a breezy full on groover that echoes of both Sheila Chandra and Tom Tom Club.
As a whole, islandman delivers a delicate buffet of influences – spanning the spectrum from hazy balearic pop to tropical new age flirts to deep spiritual psychedelic jamming.