Dalmak, meaning to dive or to daydream - a perfect name the album… It delivers the effect that name promises and also explains how Esmerine decided to do this album… They closed their eyes and dived into the soundscape of Istanbul.
Dalmak was released on Constellation Records this September and the band will be hitting the roads of Europe late November and December. For those who reside in Istanbul, mark the 12th of December on your calendars.
Bruce Cawdron of Esmerine, the Marimba and acupuncture master answers our questions.
After the bands two shows in Istanbul last year, you played the new material for the first time in an eight-show tour in Canada. The live performances seem to have lifted the album’s sound to a more dynamic level. How would you compare the sound of the album to the live performances?
After many years of performing live and making records with bands and bands and bands it almost always seems to be the way. Live music sounds more dynamic than a recording. I think that in itself that's just one of the limitations of a recording. It's like a very long exposure snapshot essentially. And live is called live precisely because the song is living and breathing. Even if all the musicians are playing from sheet music, the song will be different than on record.
Plus, in a live setting, there's so many interactions going on: the band and the audience; the band and the space; and the dynamics within the band itself. And people (audience, band) get inspired by and change what they might play to suit 'the moment'.
The results (in my experience) are always surprising. And whether good or 'bad' it's an essential part of being human and making these ritual sounds that our brains and spirits have evolved to love and to need.
Some of the songs on the album were recorded back in Canada, without the contribution of the Turkish musicians. Can you tell us more about the writing process of these songs? Do they carry parallel feelings with the other tracks or can we see them moments of striped down Esmerine, showing the differences between the two line-ups?
Esmerine was under pretty tight time constraints in Istanbul. We only had two days of recording time and had to get down as many songs as we could. And we did damn good with the time we had. Deadlines always seem to work that way! ... So we did the essentials (plus a bit more) there in that loft on Tercüman Çıkmazı. Back home, we had the luxury of being able to invite friends and colleagues to play with us on some of those songs from Istanbul, as well as work on a couple / few songs that either fell by the wayside or were good, but didn't seem to fit the 'Turkish' vibe.
Then, we mixed everything as a whole. It all has the thread of our memory and experience of Istanbul.
The Turkish element in the music is obvious and easy to spot, because of the classical instruments and tunes. But let’s say, if we are talking about two cultures making one album, what are the essential Canadian elements in Esmerine’s music and in Dalmak?
HA! This album is really like a meeting and joining of many different 'traditions': western classical (20th century edition); Anatolian, Armenian, Appalachian, drone music, punk rock, bebop, electronic, loop & effects. So let's say that in that pure Canadian way, it's a very 'multicultural' record!
What kind of a feeling, you wish the album Dalmak would have on the listeners?
Well, obviously we are happy if people like it, but I wouldn't ask for a particular feeling. If they are moved by the music, then we've done our job well.
Music distribution in Turkey is problematic. Is the album reaching the Turkish audience? Have you received feedback from Turkish music listeners? And can we break the news? Is Esmerine really coming to Istanbul in December?
I have no idea about music distribution in Turkey. We are just about to explore that whole scene with this record. Wish us luck!
Yes please, break the news that we are coming to Istanbul in December, and that (hopefully) we'll be back again in the New Year.