Tri A Tolia
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Tri A Tolia

Band Folk World


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Melike is the name of a rising vocalist from Turkey who is currently based in Ghent, Belgium. However, little is known about this artist apart from the fact that her musical interests go well beyond her country’s traditional music to embrace rootsy sounds from Latin America and Europe as well. Melike grew up listening to the classical Turkish music her parents brought to Ghent in their suitcases. She studied Eastern and Western singing techniques and has established a group with her Iraqi husband Osama Abdulrasol. He is behind the sumptuous arrangements of Melika’s first release « Macar ». The band brings together a Moroccan percussionist, a Turkish saz player and Flemish artists in an exchange that is well dosed and gripping.

Some, like baseball star Carlos Delgado, the Toronto Blue Jays slugger, mark their disapproval of the US occupation of Iraq by refusing to stand up for the playing of « God Bless America » at the start of games. Others, like Michael Moore, splash their outrage all over book pages and silver screens, and get Cannes’ Golden Palm for their efforts.
Still others, like Turkish vocalist Melike Tarhan, plunge into their past to seek historic parallels to the US-led invasion. The gifted musician, finds parallels between the American-led attack of Iraq and the Canakkale war fought out in the Gallipoli Peninsula that left over 500,000 people dead in 1915. This ignominious and bloody conflict between the tottering Ottoman and British empires is yet another example, says young Melike, of « mankind wanting to rule over life and death by power ‘gained’ by means of wars ». Not surprisingly, the new star of Turkish traditional music dedicates this first international album to the child victims of the US invasion.
In this concept album, Melike’s delicate and sweetly perched voice brings alive some of the ancient troubadour traditions of Anatolia. This short album is a tapestry that describes a circular cycle of life, love and death. It opens with a young boy, Macar, leaving his village of Suvermez to fight for his country. Macar disappears in the conflict leaving his mother wondering if he is alive or dead. The album delves into her anguish and the memories of a boy who, at fifteen, is « a flower in bloom », but has « grown up too soon ».
Mixing poetry by W.B.Yeats with a rich vein of traditional Turkish folk music, Melika weaves a spellbinding story of despair, hope and resilience. It is a simple tale, simply told. But the build-up - ably backed up by the qanun of Osama Abdulrasol and a plethora of talented guests – has the listener begging for more. Melika claims the record « was conceived like a novel » though, at 48 minutes, a gripping short story is perhaps a more suitable description. Be that as it may, « Macar » is yet another example of the Turkish musical renaissance that is centred on but is not exclusive to Istanbul, in the early part of this century. - Daniel Brown - Mondomix


On a level accessible only to Turkish speakers, Macar is a story of war, of a young soldier who doesn't return and leaves mother and lover in anguish. It's a story told in flashbacks and flash-forwards. But on a purely musical level, Macar is a ravishing immersion into a stylistic hybrid, of troubadorial songs embedded in the timbres of string quartet mixed with qanun, oud, guitar, baglama, background vocals and Middle-Eastern hand percussion. As a concertized soundtrack of sorts, each track is merely a chapter in the story and clear-cut structural distinctions dissolve. There's interludes even within a movement, short instrumental taqsim improvisations by divan baglama or violin nestled into melodic group refrains, with the vocalist picking up unhurriedly thereafter.

As chamber music in a strongly folkloristic style, Macar paints an aural picture of Turkey just as Fahir Atakoglu achieved on the large symphonic scale with First of All [Koch 333362]. While the lyrics tell the story, the vocals here are simply another instrument. This recalls Johannes Brahms' use of his strings in the famous Clarinet Quintet. They aren't mere accompaniment for the ostensible wind soloist but full equals. Macar's instrumentalists -- including the phenomenal violinist Nedim Nalbantoglu in guest appearances -- all are soloists on the same footing as the plaintive female vocalist.

Macar thus isn't a booklet of individual songs but a quasi-symphonic programmatic tone poem with voice. It makes it all the more evocative, a very colorful soundtrack to an imaginary film with constantly shifting moods as the listener wanders his memory palace and obtains glimpses of wildly varying scenery and emotional messages. This is fully immersive music that needs to be listened to beginning to end to fully draw us into its world. As we expect from Harmonia Mundi, audiophile concerns are fully realized and the musicianship of each participant is of a very high caliber. Entering Macar isn't simply about entertainment or fetching vocals. It's a highly emotional journey from sunlight into darkness and back again. From the listener, it requires attentiveness and a willingness to travel uncharted terrain but nothing more - the musical language here is so powerful as to do the rest all by itself. - Sixmoon

"Album review"

Thanks to forced secularisation in the 1920s and relatively early industrialisation, Turkey has a well-established "folk" tradition in the Western sense, in which privileged urbanites look to rural sounds as a source of inspiration and "authenticity". Real traditional music, meanwhile, thrives in peasant and nomad communities.

Epitomising the former tendency, cool-voiced chanteuse Melike Tarhan draws the sounds of the ashik - Anatolia's traditional bards - into a web of sophisticated international influences, creating a parable on the current Iraq war which makes for surprisingly soothing, meditative listening.

The ashiks' rounded, open and surprisingly European-sounding tones fit easily with Tarhan's breathily confiding ambient-folk manner. Her Iraqi arranger-husband Osama Abdulrasol blends the metallic jangle of the saz lute and traditional fiddle with Western strings, touches of flamenco and Brazilian rhythm in a series of vignettes telling the story of a peasant boy enlisting in the First World War. The effect is evocative rather than didactic, and an arrangement of WB Yeats's Sally Gardens is by no means the most surprising element in this unusual andausterely beautiful album - Telegraph


Zumurrude (Home Records, 2008)
Macar (Long Distance - Harmonia, 2003)



Their new album “Zumurrude” (released November 2008 with Homerecords) stands for spell-binding music which is almost impossible to categorize because of its uniqueness. With a Turkish voice, an Iraqi qanun (lap-harp) and a Belgian cello, the trio starts off on a journey to the Middle-East telling the story of princess Zumurrude (a character in the Arabian Nights) who, laying down on her divan, is heading for a magical night encountering love, loss, hope. These emotions are described with a very naked language.

Tri A Tolia researches unexpected harmonies and different types of melodies. As for the repertoir, the trio has chosen to work on traditional Turkish music and on some songs by songwriter and arranger Osama Abdulrasol. We must point out the enrichening contribution by classic cellist Londe Vercampt. Together with magnificient Melike Tarhan’s voice, they build up the magic of Tri A Tolia. Their album “Zumurrude” has been nominated for the Mixed Magazine Award 2009 in the category of Best World Album of the year.


Considered ‘the new star of Turkish folk’ by Daniel Brown (Mondomix), Melike grew up listening to Turkish classical music, but fell in love with Turkish traditional music as well so she went to Berlin to learn more about it. There she also took singing lessons from the experimental singer Claudia Herr and she studied at the same time Germanic Languages at the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin. Back in Ghent, she was received a degree in Germanic Languages (University of Ghent). Then she started studying Indian singing techniques with Mahabub Khan (cf. Musafir, Rangila, ..) and she started taking lessons in Classical Singing Techniques with Mireille Capelle and Guidon Sax (Conservatory of Ghent). Her first album MACAR which was internationally released by the French label Long Distance/ Harmonia Mundi has had very positive reviews and in 2004 it was selected as one of the best newcomers by the newspaper ‘De Standaard’.


Osama is a composer, producer and qanun & guitar player. He was born in Babylon (Iraq) 1968 and he studied western music (classical guitar) in the UK and eastern music (oud – lute – and qanun – an Arabic lapharp) in in Iraq. He performed and toured all over the world with different groups like Osama Abdulrasol & Ensemble, the symphonic orchestra of Antwerpen (de filharmonie) with Dirk brosse, Olla vogalla, Melike, Wenes vande velde, Luc de Vos, Oblomow, Djamel, Nahdha, Mesopotamia, Weshm, Lula Pena, Elftwelvtrio, Jahida Wehbe, Woestijn 93, Les ballets and several other groups and theatre productions. He participated in several Arab and international festivals including countries such as Belgium, Holland, Germany, France, Portugal, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. He also performs with other groups of different musical styles such as Jazz, Flamenco, Indian, Turkish and Greek music.


A classical cellist, who was already the winner of the Jeunes Talent contest at the age of nine and who became the winner of Pro Civitate. He studied at Ghent conservatory and performed with Il Novecento, I Flammimghi and Prima La Musica, but also with Gorki, Jo Lemaire, Johan Verminnen and Dirk Blanchard. He plays regularly with the music theatre productions of ‘Het muziek Lod’, with ‘Hush Hush’ and the opera ‘The Woman Who walked Into Doors’ of Kris Defoort. Furthermore, he plays with Catherine Delasalle and Ambush.