This is Schnieke, a.k.a. Özgür Akgül, with his first studio album Hediye (the gift). The album is intended as a gift to Özgür's grandmother, Hadiye, who was very important to him and to whom he dedicated a song. But his debut album will also come as a gift to anyone interested in how a sophisticated musical sensibility brings together electronic elements with stringed instruments of all kinds. Özgür plays the violins himself, as well as the analogue synths and drum machines. Guest musicians include Hasan Gözetlik (trumpet and trombone), Göksun Çavdar (saxophone), Korhan Erol (electric guitar and bass), Burhan Hasdemir and Barış Güney (live percussion), Zafer Tunç Resuloğlu (live drums), John Gürtler (church organ) and the Istanbul Strings, Turkey’s most vibrant string ensemble. Their diverse influences create a wide emotional range on Hediye - sometimes dark and melancholic, sometimes wild, groovy and danceable, somewhere between jazz, dub and electro, each song surprising in its own way. Despite the variety of the individual songs, a captivating pulse runs like a thread through Schnieke's first album. Incidentally, Özgür came up with the band name during a night out in a bar, when a friend explained to him what Berlin slang he absolutely had to know. He liked the sound of the word ‘Schnieke – ’it means something approximating ‘snazzy ’- and perhaps he secretly also wanted to flatter himself a little! Well, shouldn't we all do that much more often? Hediye consists of nine tracks, three of which are traditional: Aman Doktor comes from Istanbul, Özgür's birthplace, and is a homage to his own origins. Gayda, based on a Roma instrumental form of the same name, immediately makes you want to sway and transports the listener right into the middle of one of those legendary Roma weddings. Kadıoğlu comes from the Aegean region and features the Zeybek dance form which, despite its standardization in recent times, still summons up the ecstasy, inspired improvisation and musical finesse of its historical roots. The other six tracks are Özgür's own compositions, with Paşalı providing the soundtrack for the 2010 Turkish feature film Memleket Meselesi. Creating compositions for film has been Özgür’s primary passion since his time as a student at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in Germany. You can hear that in his music, because on his debut album Özgür does completely without vocal support, the instrumental depth stands for itself, and, in the style of The Cinematic Orchestra, space is created for us to develop our own images while listening – it is a soundtrack for the film we want to make of it.

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