Psyche van het Volk (Radio Centraal)

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This is a very special kind of folkopera with certain grandeur, musically led by Iraqui born acoustic guitar (studied in UK) and kanun player (studied in Iraq), and composer Osama Abdulrasol. It is one of the projects by Osama, because he also has his own ensemble and played with many more Belgian folk groups and singers (Olla vogalla, Wannes Vande Velde, Luc de Vos, Oblomow, Djamel,..), as well as with the Brussels based groups Nahdha (Arabic Renaissances music), Les Mesopotamian (Iraqi classical music), as a duo with Lula Pena (Portuguese fado singer), with the Ghent based fusion band Elftwelv trio (jazz music with Arabic music) Jahede Wehbe (Lebanon, Arabic classical music) and with the theatre company Woestijn 93.
Lead singer is Melike Tarhan. She grew up while listening to Turkish classical music, and later Turkish folk music. She has a university degree in German languages. She also studied Indian and classical singing techniques. Further on she worked as a lead singer with Belgium based world fusion groups bigband Olla Vogala, TriOttoman, Tri a Tolia, Ushak trio & Hüzam trio. She also sings Arabic songs with IndiAra, an Indian-Arabic music- and dance project and songs in the Old Portuguese language with Pandora² (A project based upon the performance of the popular Cantigas de Santa Maria), besides a few other projects.
Other participators are from Belgian (Wouter Vandenabeele, project leader from Olla Vogala, and Stefaan Smagghe: violin and Lode Vercampt : cello) Dutch (Henk De Laet : double bass & backing vocals), Turkish (Bekir Gürbüz : baglama, cura, backing vocals) and Moroccan (Azdine Jazzouli : percussion) origin.

The story is about a boy who dies at war during the Canakkale War in 1917, leaving his mother with pain. The story ends with a cry of why wars still occur as means to rule over life. The story works on a different level as an association with what happens in Iraq. Most texts are traditionals, but there is also adapted a part of the lyrics from “Down by the Sally Gardens” by Yeats. It is the only English part, on a track sung in a Turkish flavoured song style.

The style is a mixture of Turkish folk singing with European classical chamber music mixed with an “Arab” flavour. There’s a calm melancholy and always present beauty, developing in a rather silent way with a certain dignity of a keeping things at a safe distance with full perspective. The orchestra (Wouter for instance I remember well as a remarkable independent-folk violinist) succeeds well in bringing a fresh approach tof arrangements based upon certain melodic traditions without going outside a calm temper, as if all is presented as a kind of funeral tribute, losing the idea to celebrate and dance, with dignity and respect for life. “Bülbülüm Altin Kafeste” has surprisingly a Latin flavour mixed in it (acoustic guitars, rhythm) without losing its convincing original core. Only “Icimde Bir Kösede” is arranged more simply, led by voice and guitar mostly, making a more personalized moment of contemplation. Very nice is to hear a nez improvisation that introduces the concluding track, a song which represents the concluding cry, which, like flamenco builds up some tensions, but still finds a certain inner peace, because its voice will be heard at least by some. A very succesful release.

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