Review: MAYa & Tolga Baklacioglu – Kına (VENT)

Turkish imprint VENT releases a collaboration between Maya Hardinge and Tolga Baklacioglu, which is a captivating amalgamation of song and fractured vocals with brutalistic patterns of synth and percussion. With the addition of MAYa’s (Maya Hardinge) voice, synths and lyrics, Tolga Baklacioglu’s abrasive sound becomes animated with deeper resonance, which also makes the individual tracks easier to connect to as a listener.

For those that have not followed the releases of VENT, the label has developed along a path of becoming increasingly dark and abstract – from initially focusing on techno to delving into more beatless territories, VENT has carved out a niche for itself of introspective sounds from often previously unreleased talents. This progression of the label, tightly entwined with Tolga’s (also the head of the label) own journey as a musician, has enabled the convergence of the two artists behind this release to find a shared context for exploring their takes on what it is like being a human today.

Kına is the product of a creative correspondence between Tolga and Maya, whom are otherwise separated geographically, turning this release also into a dialogue between the Turkish city of Eskisehir (Tolga) and New York (Maya). Soundwise, Kına contains the techno-dystopic machinations that has characterised Tolga’s latest output, now tinged and invigorated with Maya’s vocals and textures. The result of this dynamic, and the longer format of Kına, is a wide spectrum of emotions, themes and contrast, which becomes an interesting listening experience.

Several of the tracks contains elements reminiscent of folk music, such as for instance the title track. These sounds, put alongside compositions made of less harmonic content and more of repetitive patterns, elicits the notion of the mundanity of everyday life in contrast with the mythical and surreal aspects of culture and the human experience.

All in all, Kına is a rather cerebral experience that certainly cannot pass for “easy listening”. However, it has qualities that more than makes up for it in terms of engaging the listener by making more or less clear references to topics such as increased nationalism across the world (“You Border Me In”) and harrowing acts of sexual violence (“Jyoti”, with reference to the gang rape and murder of Jyoti Sing), whilst also letting the listener’s imagination roam free.

Kına marks a milestone in VENT’s progression to encompassing a wider range of expressions in its catalogue, and is an imaginative and original release well worth the listen.

Kina is out now on VENT. Buy it here.

Words: Hampus Stålholm Holmqvist

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