FIHI MA FIHI
Fihi ma Fihi means “it is what it is”, which is a fair summation of this Melbourne band’s blend of traditional Turkish music and dancefloor hypnosis. This mix is much more subtle and nuanced than bulldozing a 4/4 bass drum through the middle of some snaking melodies, or straightjacketing the grooves into electronic-beat crassness, however. Exoticism outweighs predictability, if you like, on what are primarily originals penned by the band’s founders, Murat Yucel and Alisha Brooks.
They certainly spared no effort in realising their vision, using over 30 musicians, recording in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, London, Chicago and Melbourne, and then having the results mixed in Paris. Rap elements, distorted guitar solos and simple keyboard-bass riffs happily cohabit with fizzing darbuka rhythms and coiling oud lines, without any element seeming imposed on another. The songs and singing are strong, the textures imaginative and the grooves irresistible. It couldn’t happen without a deep love for the source tradition colliding with a desire to infiltrate a wider audience with music that is haunting and fun by turns.