January, 25th 2024 6.30 pmYA TOSIBAElectronic folk reclaiming one of Azerbaijan’s most controversial lyrical traditions
A collaboration between Finnish producer Tatu Metsätähti and Azerbaijani musician and vocalist Zuzu Zakaria, Ya Tosiba absorbs electronics, live instrumentation and folkloric poetry of Caucasus into a spirited, groovy sound.Their latest album ASAP Inşallah (Huge Bass, 2023) plays with tension of living in a world of contradictions and takes the listener on a global trek. Sonically, features come from Norway’s Center of the Universe, France’s Poborsk, Ukraine’s Zavoloka, Sweden’s Pavan and Daniel Savio, and Azerbaijan’s Rahman Memmedli. Four of the tracks draw on the meykhana genre, a style of Azerbaijani improvisational wedding music, with “poetry battles” soundtracked by microtonal electric guitar-playing.Banned during the Communist period, meykhana saw a resurgence after the fall of the Soviet Union on televised talent shows, though it was still considered a form of low culture.Zakaria presents a highly personal take on the genre, subverting both its gendered and musical traditions. “Women are not invited to this ritual, made by men for men, and [that] makes it undoubtedly even more important [for me] to continue to do it, but I would rather do deconstructed, wicked versions than copying what they do, how they do it,” she says. “Baffling them with a lot of bass and a very feminine voice feels kind of a slap in the face.”As Zakari sings in Azerbaijani, the storytelling of ASAP Inşallah comes alive. All of the album’s lyrics are taken directly from poetry and texts: with tales of romance and war, sex and gender, nature and machine, politics and society. Though the stories are varied, and some are historical, they all tap into that tension; it’s the weight of history versus the promise of tomorrow.
Tickets: 15 € full | 10 € reduced (for students)Tickets are available at the museum and online.