Korhan Futacı, and Thurston Moore duelling on the stage. Umut Çağlar’s zurna peeking on the right.

Thurston Moore & Konstrukt

Thurston Moore visits friends in Istanbul for an afternoon of improv. 6th of June, 2016

The closing event of the Istanbul Arts & Culture Festival’s 2016 instalment took place in Soho House’s luxurious Big Room. Konstrukt hosted Thurston Moore for the first time in their 8 year long existence sharing the stage with the likes of Peter Brötzmann, Joe McPhee, William Parker, Akira Sakata, Marshall Allen, Evan Parker, Eugene Chadbourne. I went early to the venue to hang out with the band and take some pictures during their soundcheck and the concert.

To be honest, although I am well aware of the separate musical abilities of the current members of Konstrukt, I never heard them play together their own brand of multi-layered, ultrasound, hyper active improvisation before.

Korhan Futacı has involved his vocals and sax playing with many cult bands from the Turkish underground i.e. Dandadadan, Tamburada, and recently Kara Orkestra in addition to being one of the well respected sax players of his generation in the Jazz Scene locally and abroad.

Barlas Tan Özemek listens on as the band soundchecks.

Barlas Tan Özemek is a young talented guitar player, composer, and producer with previous Yasemin Mori Deli Bando and current Kara Orkestra credits under his belt. Barlas also released a single where he sings his own lyrics.

Ediz Hafızoğlu, born in Bulgaria, is the strong drummer of the band and he is known to smear the last bit of ear grease off the audiences (if there is any after being exposed to the barrage of sound this quartet releases on you). He is definitely the stronghold of this quartet and any other musical situation he takes place in.

Ediz Hafızoğlu’s hangdrum.
Umut Çağlar’s equipment. No guitars in sight.

Umut Çağlar is best known as an improvising guitar player, also plays keyboards, woodwinds, percussion. His previous solo & collab work has been released on local and international labels. Tonight possibly due Thurston’s appearance he forgoes his guitar, and is helming a table of synths and electronics, and also the zurna and gralla.

Thurston takes to the stage with his whistle.

The Soundcheck & Rehearsal

I had almost an hour to witness the musicians do a soundcheck and prepare the hall for the concert. I took this opportunity to take some photos.

The Big Room at Soho House Istanbul during soundcheck.

Although the room is not specifically designed to host sound events, it sounded great to these ears during soundcheck and the concert itself. The subtle and warm lighting of the place was less animated than the band’s musical score, and a compliment from the organizers of the festival to let the music and sound shine through.

Barlas Tan Özemek & Korhan Futacı rehearsal. Thurston’s guitar.
Thurston walks towards the stage.

The hall was an hour late to be vacated from the previous seminar of the festival programme. Thus, the soundcheck started an hour later than programmed.

Thurston looks on as Konstrukt members tune their instruments to the sound of the room.
Umut pointing at I don’t know what as Thurston looks on.
Thurston’s heavily abused, missing parts galore jazzmaster.

The audience waited almost an hour for the doors to open as the band rehearsed inside. I can’t complain as that gave me a lot of room to spend time around the sound check and rehearsal.

As a filmmaker, I am always intrigued towards musicians’ alone moments before the audience gets in, before the room takes its final shape filled with other people. Musicians do not play to empty rooms, but people.

The architectural minutiae of any empty room totally changes into something else when the audience comes in, living, breathing, chatting, desperate, and happy. The contract between musician and listener gets finalised here, not in an album, not on your iPhone, but here in a concert.

A small pedalboard for Thurston.
Thurston and his ideas for the night shape up.
Korhan’s architectural solo in an empty room.

Tonight’s band finishes sound check and retreats to the back room.

The Doors Open and the Show Starts

It’s 19:00 and it’s showtime.

The crowd gets in the hall, and the lights of the stage are off. The silence of the room gets filled with the murmur and abrupt applause and screams from the crowd. After all, Thurston Moore is probably a hero and a role model to many in the crowd as Roger Waters was to the previous generation.

Audience members settle in the room & on the stage.
Alphan Eşeli the co-curator of the festival introduces the special guest & the band.

I retreat to the side of the stage since I had enough time to scout the hall for the best location to shoot some photos. I liked the way I can get up close to the band from the sides, and that I could skip sides easily using the backstage.

Thurston first on stage, followed by Umut Çağlar in the background.

Thurston starts up solo.

I happen to listen to a lot of improv, electro-acoustics, electronics etc. I am acquainted with most of the Erstwhile catalogue, a diehard fan of Radu Malfatti, Axel Dörner, Kevin Drumm, Bernhard Guenter, Jason Lescalleet, Supersilent and other conspirators. To be honest, Improv is dead music. It is not marketable, It is not a commodity to be purchased, or shared on the hyperlink killing social media. Your friends, your parents won’t like it, you can’t sing the choruses to them, you can’t blast it on the stereo of your car. It’s dead because it can’t be second-handedly communicated to others. The thing that makes it precious is to witness it the moment it is born and carry it to your grave. It is dead because it dies the moment it is sung or played.

Thurston, Umut, Barlas, and Ediz.
Thurston Moore listens to the sound.

Well, tonight was alive. The music played tonight encompassed everything I love about the free music. There was a lot of listening among musicians. Although Thurston most of the time was an instigator of the musical ideas, and cues, Korhan’s sudden blasts, and quitely evolving pianissimos, Umut’s textures, Ediz’s rhythmic and sometimes melodic parts, and Barlas’s deep currents did shape the music of the night. I was ready with my ear plugs (made out of paper towels) to take the barrage of sound coming my way.

Thurston approaches his amp, and I have all the memories rush to my head of all the videos I’ve seen him do that for the last 20 years.
The only remaining switch on his guitar gets some treatment again.

I am well aware that being as close to the stage on the sides, or even on the stage is the best place you can be for sound quality. Musicians take most of the time in soundcheck to tune their stage p.a. and the mix to their own taste. Being on or close to the stage, their efforts are well worth it for an audience member like me.

Thurston alone.

It was a surprise to see that Thurston and Konstrukt were so in tune to each other although it was the first night ever they played together. Dissonant and radical at times, the sound almost always relegated to a comfortable and coherent mood after those moments.

Ediz reaches for his hangdrum.
Umut reaches for his artifacts. He provided a lot of texture to the mix.
Korhan and Thurston blend.

The show was at times shifting and revisiting of temporary distortions of musical ideas, and spare moments of thumping and grooving manoeuvres. I felt like coherency was in place, and Konstrukt is well ready to break apart the mood and bring it back together on demand.

Thurston Moore and his amp going at it.
Thurston and Korhan as Umut plays his gralla.

Korhan takes his time.

The music, the mood, the atmosphere provided me a maelstrom of photo ops. The sound and the atmosphere blurred in my head, and I was moving on the sides to take in a maximum amount of moments in hopes of publishing them sometime, somehow.

Thurston during one of the quiter moments of the show.
Barlas drops his bass in order to pitch in with his electronics.
Thuston’s bag rests on the side of the stage as its’ owner is busy.

This is somehow my strongest memory from the night.

For the first time during the night, I move in behind the audience to take some shots of the stage. It turns out the show has come to an end. Thurston with his fist up calls for his hosts of the night and they all salute the audience and it lookes like everyone was content with the way night turned out.

Thurston and Korhan. End of Show.
The band is saluting the audience.

The band moves backstage, and the friendly atmosphere there puts a formidable end to this night full of good music played by nice people.

A small crowd gathers outside after the show as the band hangs out at backstage.

Seeing Thurston Moore play a night of improvisation along with talented members of Konstrukt was a rewarding experience and reminded me again how powerful and beautiful music can be when in good hands.

I should like to thank Korhan, Barlas, Umut, and Ediz for letting me sneak around with my camera. Also, Thanks to Alphan Eşeli and Demet Müftüoğlu of Istanbul ’74 for organising this rare jewel of an event.