SAD EYED LEMURS - 4 different releases

Sad Eyed Lemurs - 4 different releases

17/12/2/3 songs
66:44/65:20/10:19/17:48 minutes
***** *****

Lately we have been assaulted by an artists from Istanbul working under the name Sad Eyed Lemurs. This may sound like a band, but it is the project of one guy called Mert Basaran who is responsible for all voices and instruments, namely keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and devices.

The first mail we got from him consisted of two home-recorded CD-Rs. I know that there are people out there who only take music seriously when the CD has been manufactured by some expensive company. I admit that something professional may look better, but isn't it the music that matters in the first place? So I started with the first CD that contained 17 pieces recorded between 2000 and 2002. From the beginning I noticed that SEL's music is anything but easy-listening. Already the song titles are done in probably some kind of fantasy language, titles like baya olm, luj, lh8, k, lh4d etc. are doing their best to alienate the audience already in the very beginning. That CD starts with something like a song, in a very gloomy mood, something like dark wave with really doomy vocals. Reminds me a bit of a slo-mo version of Joy Division. Then the CD continues with a more floating piece, borrowing elements even from jazz. From there on SEL is more than just eclectic, digging deeply into dark ambient sounds, adding voice fractures (never really singing), one piece is even a minute of torturing white noise, just to make sure that we are still alive. This is probably SEL's first work, and therefore more experimental than the succeeding works, but it shows already a huge potential.

The next CD consists of 12 songs which must have been recorded in the first half of 2003. On this later album, the music is less wave, but heads more into a rock direction. Not rock as in rock'n'roll, but rather the more atmospheric regions of the vast style generally called post rock. This should already appeal to people who like bands like GYBE! or Fly Pan Am, but you should not forget that where these bands build their sonic textures from many people playing together, SEL is only one guy delivering all the music, and – which is totally rare for a solo project, even the drums are organic and not some sterile computer sound. This CD is far denser and more rich than the debut, and is hence also much more accessible to start with. ebel (orc) is even something like a real song, very brooding, with vocals owing a bit to Tom Waits. This CD ends with the sad piano piece oracle3, proving that SEL is not only a good composer, but also a very gifted piano player at that.

I received his third CD a bit later. This one, again home recorded and done on CD-R, consists of only two pieces (recorded in September), and is therefore only running for a little more than 10 minutes. The opener aubreathe (again these weird titles) is a sad percussive ballad with subdued vocals. It is the other track, suw demant, which is the first really absolutely great song I have heard. Don't get me wrong, I also think that the two albums before are already more than astonishing, but it is this track which for the first time shows the genius of SEL. Starting out like a Jim O'Rourke ballad, this short piece is building up a tremendous power, all done with a fantastic arrangement.

Too show us that he is really a true workaholic, SEL sent us another 3-piece CD-R later this year, this time recorded in November. Where 2 nov (ok, I guess that's the date of when the song was recorded) is a rather generic lo-fi post rock track, you get two more awe-inspiring pieces with ii se and a ve tu ma. Where the former sounds like a soundtrack from some weird movie and could also be imagined from a band like Fantômas, the latter is very monumental and ends with a contemporary piano part, showing again SEL's tremendous talent.

Sure enough, Sad Eyed Lemurs is not for everyone. It is mostly a dark and very difficult music to get into, but if you spend three entire days listening to his music, it will be a very rewarding experience. Mert Basaran is an obscure personality, and if you google the term Sad Eyed Lemurs on the Internet, you won't get many results, also showing that we have to deal with an over-productive recluse. I don't know if this can be called outsider music, but there are parallels to artists like early Daniel Johnston and also the vast work of Jandek. Musically SEL is a totally different world, but the speed of releasing music without getting much recognition is very interesting.

SEL doesn't seem to have a website yet, but you can contact him at the following address:

Mert Basaran
Hukukcular Sitesi
C-3 Blok Daire 13
Yeni Levent 80620
Istanbul (Turkey)

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