Fulya Özlem & Akustik Kabare: Mânidar Boşluk

The Incredible Lightness of Gravity

Listening Post 182. The singer-songwriter Fulya Özlem spent years studying and performing abroad, tracing a path that includes English, Scottish and Irish folk, tango, Latin jazz, bossa nova, French and Spanish Renaissance compositions, Sephardic music and rebetiko before returning to her native Istanbul. On Mânidar Boşluk (The Conspicuous Abyss), her third album, she explores something that was always part of her repertoire but rarely its focus: “My musical native language,” she calls it, kanto and maqam (Turkish cabaret and classical songs), reminiscent of urban culture in the taverns and theaters of the early twentieth century Ottoman twilight. Her songs are retro-modern, at turns dreamy and philosophical, despairing and absurdist, with witty lyrics shining like lasers as if designed to lighten love’s burden, her dulcet voice lifted by her two colleagues—Akustik Kabare—on qanun and oud. In Ateşle Bulut (The Fire and the Cloud), Özlem equates the search for passion’s dying embers with descent into an extinct volcano (video 1). Less daring, more tender, Umut (Hope) muses about the fragility of optimism (video 2). The title track likens absence—“that conspicuous abyss that forms when you are not by my side”—to a black hole (video 3). Yetişir Artık (Enough Nowis a dark and delectable tango of tears and bravado (video 4). Özlem’s associative leaps have a palpable logic, as in the theatrical Hissî Vampir (Emotional Vampire); and Yarın Olsa (I Wish It Were Yesterday), inspired by the General Theory of Relativity (for which she thanks Einstein in the album acknowledgments). This is an artist of 1,001 tales, communicated mostly through song but in short stories, journalism and film as well; she’s also a five-language interpreter and is completing a PhD at Istanbul Technical University’s Turkish Music Conservatory. But don’t be intimidated by the gravity of Özlem’s learning. Just listen and float. (Kalan Music)

Mânidar Boşluk/The Conspicuous Abyss
Fulya Özlem: vocals
Asineth Fotini Kokkala: qanun
Marina Liontou-Mohamet: oud

 

Ateşle Bulut/The Fire and the Cloud
Music & lyrics: Fulya Özlem
(from the Turkish lyrics)
Even in an extinct volcano deep down/There is that flame that never dies away,

I am looking for that flame in the clouds in your eyes/I was that flame in the clouds of your eyes,
Now I am withering.
In which sky is to be found/The fire and the cloud side by side?
In the arms of the sun that shines after the rain.

You are like the cry of a bird/That flies away from within the flames
You are looking for a cloud that will quench the fire on your wings;
You are the cloud that quenches the fire on your wings,
You are raining.
In which sky is to be found/The fire and the cloud side by side?
In the arms of the sun that shines after the rain.

 

Umut/Hope
Music & lyrics: Fulya Özlem
Hope, you are a ship made of paper swaying o’er the water
You shall sink with the slightest touch of a wave;
Hope, you are like a bird flyin’ across the blue skies
When the weather gets cold, you shall be gone to another land.
Hope, whenever I stumble and fall/How nice it would have been if you held my hand
And never went away
Hope, how many times I was adrift with your tide/Just because you told me to believe,
I believed everyone, in vain.

Hope, how many times I told you it won’t work
But then you gripped my heart and with a breath of life
You brought me back again/You got me drunk again.
Hope, you are the name of bread and water on my table.
If you go away from this house, even the sun shall not rise.
Hope, look how I’m trembling, my hands are all sweaty
I am staring at the door, hoping that you’ll come today.
Hope, come sing along with me, let’s close our eyes
So that the sun will rise again tomorrow.
Hope…

 

Mânidar Boşluk/The Conspicuous Abyss
Music & lyrics: Fulya Özlem

I have an irresistible urge to call you and talk to you about the latest news
Concerning the Black Holes
My fingers are searching for your name on the touchscreen
But hey, something’s wrong, what’s going on?
You seem to be erased from my phone book/It’s as if you’ve evaporated or melted down!
Oh! That conspicuous abyss that forms when you are not by my side/Is drawing me inside
Is that what they call the Black Hole?
Could it be? Oh my, it definitely is…

Those meaningless little things that I tell you every day
Are cross with words now, as if they have given up on life
At night, when I wake up from my dream with a scream,
For a moment, I think your absence is just a nightmare
I look for you next to me…
Oh! That conspicuous abyss that forms when you are not by my side
Hurts my poor heart/And I wait for you desperately.
Oh! That conspicuous abyss that forms when you are not by my side/Is drawing me inside
Is this what they call the Black Hole?
Could it be? Oh my, it definitely is…

 

Yetişir Artık/Enough Now
Music & lyrics: Fulya Özlem
Enough with the black tears I have shed for you,
For how many more seasons shall my heart burn, while the Spring of my life is fading away?
Enough with those ever-long nights filled with dark sorrow that I have been waiting for you,
Enough with those last bits of hope I had in vain that have stolen the last remaining joy of my life
Enough now, I don’t want your love, I don’t want it even if you come back one day;

Years later if you come and tell me you still love me,
I will look at your face as if I’m looking at a stranger.
Enough now, I don’t want your love, I don’t want it even if you come back one day…

 


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