It is perhaps an indication of my own Orientalist tendencies that I expected an album by a Turkish sound artist to conjure up images of bustling Istanbul markets or sunbaked Cappadocia landscapes (admittedly, the CD cover may have nudged me a little in that direction). Actually, there is nothing particularly Turkish about Erdem Helvacioğlu’s Timeless Waves. True to its title, the sounds occupy their own spatiotemporal reality, and listeners with enough imagination may even find themselves transported there.
“Fear” opens as musique concrete with surprisingly glitchy overtones. Isolated noises evoke an escalating tension, a disquiet not unlike the dark ambient soundscapes of Lustmord or even the less straightforward work of Coil. The tension is never really released. It turns to “Love”, a title that seems scarcely appropriate until one recognizes the serenity in the gently picked chords of an unmistakably real guitar. “Anger” brings in static noise reminiscent of Philip Jeck or Janek Schaefer at their most abrasive (rest assured this element never reaches Merzbow levels). Helvacioğlu goes on to play with these basic ingredients in exploring other emotions: “Sadness”, “Surprise”, and “Joy”.
Timeless Waves originated as the audio side of a 2010 art project, but thankfully holds together as a coherent album; in fact I am surprised it was not designed as such. It will hold at least some appeal for fans of any of the aforementioned reference points, regardless of geographic origin.