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“Midnight Express” music @ Babylon

Posted on 12 September 2011

BaBa ZuLa in Babylon

My favorite music venue in Istanbul, club Babylon, is opening its new season this month with a promising program of acts from around the globe. Musicians from Mali, Ethiopia, Britain, the U.S. and Turkey. Concerts by controversial and original musicians like Mulatu Astatke, Tinariwen, Fun-Da-Mental, Rainbow Arabia, BaBa ZuLa, and Ilhan Erşahin.

Babylon believes in the power of music to unite people and destroy preconceived ideas. For years this has been the context determining the club’s seasonal program. This month Babylon kick-starts the new season by following an alternative route towards the “other” parts of the world, rather than paying a visit to Paris, London and New York where arts and culture activities are almost monopolized.

A series of concerts, inspired by Alan Parker’s sensational, yet somewhat skewed 1978 film “Midnight Express”, will help break the stigmata and stereotypes created by all cultural products with questionable bona fides, such as the film Midnight Express.

Babylon believes that the truest way to revolt against these cultural preconceived notions that we simply encode as Western, modern, civilized, or Eastern, underdeveloped, uncivilized, is through music. Thus here comes the “Midnight Express” with the following musicians.



In Mali, they are accepted as the grassroots voice of rebellion of a disenfranchised nation. They are a band formed by nomadic musicians.

With their folkloric costumes and electric guitars, they have a distinctive presence on stage. They’ve played the main stage at some of world’s biggest festivals such as Glastonbury and Roskilde. It’s their first time in Turkey.

Their music is influenced by traditional Mali sounds, Berber music and American Blues.They won the Uncut Music Award with their fourth studio album Imidiwan.

Tinariwen is a band of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali. We don’t exactly know how many members are there but we know one thing that they share one passion: Music.

The band was formed in 1979 in Libyan refugee camps but returned to Mali after a cease-fire in the 1990s. Tinariwen was founded by Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, who at age 4 witnessed the execution of his father during an uprising. Tinariwen who have adopted the nomadic way of life in the deserts, have released four albums and they blend local intruments with western guitars. Their favourite thing to do is gathering around the fire, making music with their electro-guitars which they carry on camel’s back. Even though it is offensive in their culture to play intsruments out of their tribe, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib doesn’t really care about that.

Their 2007 released album “Aman Iman” was a major breakthrough and lately they have been working on “Tassili” which is planned to be released in late August. Performed at giant festivals such as Glastonbury, Roskilde and Coachella festivals so far, multi-award winning Tinariwen will take the stage at Babylon on September 23-24!

They were featured on the cover of Babylon Magazine’s second edition. For their forthcoming album they entered the studio with the band TV on the Radio. Chris Martin and Bono are among their biggest fans. The latest issue of Uncut magazine names their latest album as the album of the month.

Mulatu Astatke

Adis Ababa Ethiopian musician and composer Mulatu Astatke is a music legend who is considered to be the creator of Ethio-Jazz genre. Gilles Peterson said that his music is the ultimate form to reach.

He combines traditional Ethiopian folk music with classic jazz and latin. He is working with London based jazz formation ‘Heliocentrics’ and he also composes music for Jim Jarmusch movies. His trademark intrument is vibraphone.

Mulatu Astatke composed the soundtrack of the movie Broken Flowers directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Bill Murray. He once shared the stage with Duke Ellington.


They have been called the “Asian Public Enemy’’. They have a strong political and anti-racist stance and are a radical and multi-cultural British hip-hop act. The band is the brainchild of Pakistani musician Aki Navaz.

Formed in 1991, the band released 7 albums. They are an activist band to stand for the rights of third world countries, draw attention to the causes and solutions of underdevelopment and reflect it in their music.

Rainbow Arabia

Rainbow Arabia

They come all the way from Los Angeles and perform a brand of dance music that contains elements of North African and Arabic sounds with hints of American avant-garde dance pop.

Rainbow Arabia is an electronic duo consisting of Future Pigeon keyboardist Danny Preston and wife Tiffany Preston. They have toured the US and Europe with Gang Gang Dance and played shows in Europe with Wavves and Mogwai. They cite extraordinary Syrian singer Omar Souleyman singer as their main influence.

Their latest EP Kabukimono, released via Kompakt (Germany’s leading electronic music label), has found critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. They perform on Monday September 19. Doors open: 20.30

Performance: 21.30 Warm-up & After Party: Erel Eryürek.


BaBa ZuLa

They are the only band to perform space-age oriental music. A very original show!

Their work also includes contributions to the soundtracks of the movies Tabutta Rövaşata (Somersault in a Coffin), Fatih Akın’s Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul and Dondurmam Gaymak (Ice Cream, I Scream).

İlhan Erşahin’s Istanbul Sessions

This is their first live performance following the release of their latest album. The band is formed by İlhan Erşahin, Alp Ersönmez, Turgut Bekoğlu and İzzet Kızıl, who are notable Turkish musicians in their own right.

Concert dates:

15.09.11 BaBa ZuLa

16.09.11 İlhan Erşahin’s İstanbul Sessions

17.09.11 Fun-da-Mental

19.09.11 Rainbow Arabia

21.09.11  Mulatu Astatke

22.09.11   Mulatu Astatke

23.09.11   Tinariwen

24.09.11   Tinariwen





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