Turkey is not be the first country that will come to mind when discussing bands from the international underground music scene , bands from the USA and Britain will probably rank highest on most peoples lists with bands from countries like Greece, Sweden and Poland following close behind. Bands from Turkey, in all truth, would most likely not even get a mention so what better excuse could we have than to wax lyrical when one does pop up and then duly proceeds to blow us away.
The stoner/desert element of Strider's sound is no more in evidence than on opening tune "Hive", after a brief, gradually increasing, droning effect the song bursts into life on a wave of guitar fuelled desert fuzziness, that is probably a touch more Fu Manchu than it is Kyuss, and boasts upbeat vocals and more hooks than a cloakroom. "Sometimes it goes right sometimes wrong, who decides?" sings Karaca over a backdrop of chugging stoner groove on next song "Bystander Apathy" and to our ears this is a tune that goes extremely right, especially in its last quarter when those chugging riffs become interspersed with elements of languid haziness. The psych elements of Strider's groove are bought further to the fore on next track "Dream with the Dreamer", here the tightly driven raucousness of the albums two previous tracks is, in the songs initial stages, jettisoned for a more dreamy dynamic (with a vocal to match), only moving up to those same levels of fuzzed out gnarliness as the song nears its climax. Up to the bat next is title track "Midnight Zen", the song opens with Çelebi and Çiçek trading off Middle Eastern flavoured guitar motifs before the hammer goes down and Kostik and Kabaş throw their respective hats in the ring with some growling low end bass and thundering drums, the two guitarists taking this as a sign to stamp on their effects pedals and lay down some fuzz, only diverting from this path to lay down a hazy and laid back middle section. Karaca's vocals here are sublime, he sings of "paralyzing self doubt" and "salvation from the plight" in a voice that is edged with grit yet creamy and warm at its heart. Final song "Molly the Holy" has an almost Stone Roses (pioneers of the UK's Madchester movement of the late 80's/early 90's) feel to it, Karaca adds a fey wispiness to his vocals here which is totally in keeping with the music of that time, that said it is the searing guitar solos of Çelebi and Çiçek that will remain in the memory long after the songs last note has faded into the ether.
Strider's "Midnight Zen" is a stunning debut that rages and rumbles but also swoons and sways, a perfect balance of light and shade that growls and snarls in the undergrowth one minute and soars majestically among the clouds the next, fuzz and finesse at its finest.
Check it out .....
© 2023 Frazer Jones