Deniz Cuylan - No Such Thing As Free Will
Catalogue No.: HH136
Release Date: 7th May 2021
Genre: Electronic, Ambient
The memory is distant but distinct: Deniz Cuylan, five years old, early 1980s, at home in Istanbul, Turkey, listening to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on his parents' turntable. Those regal opening notes arise from nowhere and the music is instantly as real as daylight, refracting his imagination into a spectrum of unfamiliar sensations: grandeur, urgency, beauty, sorrow. Communion. Thirty-five years later, Cuylan is still chasing that feeling. The composer and multi-instrumentalist is older and wiser now but remains convinced that music is the most lucid articulation of the enduring contradictions of the human condition. Which is why the album he releases on March 19th 2021, No Such Thing as Free Will, is so unexpected. No Beethoven-inspired maximalism here, no internet-enabled hyperpop, no quixotic endeavor to cram every post-millennial trope and trend into some grand unifying theory. The six songs on Free Will distill a lifetime of collaborative musical exploration into a remarkably spare, meditative package. They're timeless, in that they are unattached to any specific moment but the one currently ticking by. They're universal, in that they come from everywhere and nowhere particular. Simultaneously subverting and embodying the manic cognitive dissonance of life on Earth circa 2021 AD, Cuylan recorded an ambient acoustic album. The bulk of No Such Thing As Free Will is built from classical guitar. This was Cuylan's very first instrument, which he learned to play at Lycée Saint-Joseph, the French high school he attended in Istanbul. Since that time his career and collaborations have taken him all over the world. He's lived and worked in Stockholm and New York City and toured the US and Europe with bands he fronted throughout the '00s. His post-jazz trio Maya played the Athens Biennale and wrote original music for fashion shows in Moscow and Dusseldorf. His electronic duo Portecho left revelers weeping on the dance floor and was hailed as a "fast rising band with a radiant future" by The New York Times. His world music ensemble Norrda comprised instrumentation from a half-dozen locales and played major festival stages across Europe and Turkey. All told he's released 10 albums spanning instrumentation, genres and continents. Cuylan's compositional genius is the common thread. Along the way Cuylan hosted his own freeform radio show on Istanbul's indie station Acik Radyo 94.9 for five years, worked as an editor at Turkish lifestyle magazine Bant, collaborated with illustrator Sadi Guran to publish the book/album Netame, produced a live album for Beck's sax player David Brown and composed music for megabrands like Nike, Lancome and Beats By Dre. In 2015 Cuylan relocated to Los Angeles to concentrate on film scoring. He's since worked on Netflix series Rise of Empires: Ottoman, the Emmy-nominated Mars Generation and El Chapo as well as Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prize nominee Oh Lucy! and Janicza Bravo’s Rotterdam International Film Festival Big Screen Award nominee Lemon. In 2018 he co-wrote and scored his first feature, Av:The Hunt, one of the first Turkish movies acquired by Netflix International. That same year he and longtime partner Brian Bender began the production unit Bright and Guilty, which has been releasing cinematic, trip-hop-tinged singles on Jose James' Rainbow Blonde label. It was in LA that Cuylan stumbled onto the inspiration for his first solo album when he came across a Santos model classical guitar built by Pasadena-born, Paris-dwelling luthier Thomas Norwood at Guitar Salon International in Santa Monica. At first, he couldn't bring himself to shell out the money for such a treasure, but eventually he decided that it was meant to be. His first studio forays with the Santos were frustrating, as if the guitar wouldn't accept his songwriting. Rather than forcing himself on it, Cuylan opened himself to the instrument, letting the Santos reveal its secrets to him. The result is a collaboration of the kind Cuylan seeks in all his projects, albeit this time with an inanimate object.
TRACKLIST: 1. Clearing, 2. Purple Plains Of Utopia, 3. She Was Always Here, 4. Flaneurs In Hakone, 5. Object Of Desire, 6. No Such Thing As Free Will.