While they’re pretty much ignored in their native Turkey, the free-form collective KonstruKt has built a global following in the almost 15 years since they formed. Listening to their music, it’s not hard to understand why Umut Çağlar (guitar, organ, electronics, traditional instruments), Korhan Futaci (reeds, traditional instruments), and their bandmates are so well-liked in free jazz circles. They can be freaky, funky, or completely far out. Sometimes they’re all three at once! While Turkey isn’t necessarily well-known for its free improvisation scene, the band is continuing a tradition that was kicked off by Don Cherry associate Okay Temiz and bolstered by should-be hero Hüseyin Ertunç. Freedom is in KonstruKt’s DNA. The bloodline of their homeland may not be deep, but it is powerful, and this ensemble has seized on that energy, sourcing fresh sounds in the process.
KonstruKt’s entry on the world stage was launched by none other than German free jazz legend Peter Brötzmann, who collaborated with the band quite early in their career. Since then, they’ve recorded with a variety of like-minded souls, including their aforementioned countryman Ertunç. Their international roster of collaborators includes Akira Sakata, Joe McPhee, William Parker, Thurston Moore, Evan Parker, Marshall Allen, Ken Vandermark, and Keiji Haino. Each match-up induces the band to lock on to a symbiotic vector aligned to their sparring partner. With Moore, they turn up their out-rock tendencies; with Haino, they get quite weird. That’s the beauty of KonstruKt’s oeuvre: they produce a wide variety of moods and moments. They’re down for whatever suits the circumstances.
The sounds found on Dolunay result from a 2008 studio date, where KonstruKt invited Brötzmann to Istanbul to record. Originally issued as a limited CD on the band’s re:konstruKt label, it has now been pressed to vinyl by the adventurous German imprint Karlrecords. Alongside Brötzmann’s reeds, Çağlar (playing guitar) and Futaci (bellowing on tenor and baritone sax) welcome drummer Korhan Argüden and Özün Usta on percussion. Interestingly, there was no bass player present at the session. Six lengthy improvisations are spread across two slabs of vinyl, beginning with the title track. This piece sets up the operational mode of the group, pitting Brötzmann’s turbulent bleating against Futaci’s deep, soulful squawk. The percussionists unfurl frenetic waves of spiky tone peppered with crashing cymbals. Çağlar hovers underneath with a purring drone. On this track, he’s at his most pensive; he unleashes a high-energy squalling maelstrom for the remainder of the album.
Brötzmann fits right into KonstruKt’s roiling blend of freeform musing, and the band matches the Teutonic titan’s high-energy playing. That Dolunay is the first of many collaborations between these entities shows just how much mutual admiration exists between them. The album’s title translates to “full moon,” and there are clear signs of reciprocated shapeshifting among everyone involved. It’s promising that the sonic lycanthropy has continued beyond this first meeting of the free jazz minds. I can’t wait to hear what they’ll get up to next.