Ferhad Feyssal’s performance at the Intercultured Festival in Bradford was a mesmerising fusion of traditional Kurdish Syrian melodies and contemporary musical elements. With virtuosity, Feyssal skillfully wove a tapestry of his own emotive compositions, transporting the audience through the rich cultural landscape of Kurdistan. His music, deeply rooted in heritage, carried profound narratives of resilience and longing, creating an intimate connection with the listeners. Feyssal’s stage presence was magnetic, engaging the audience in a rhythmic journey that transcended borders. The performance not only celebrated Kurdish heritage but also exemplified the universality of music as a bridge between diverse cultures.
Ferhad Feyssal together with the Buzuq player Hozan Peyal fled their home of Heseke (Arabic: Al-Hasakah) in Syrian Kurdistan in 2012 due to the war. Initially settling in Istanbul, they rented an old apartment with other friends, foraging for firewood and busking on the streets to survive. In 2015, they teamed up with local Kurdish musicians Gül Temiz on Mey and Faysal Macit on Daf and Darbuka along with a rotating cast of guest musicians: the band Danûk was born.
These extraordinarily talented band of musicians and singers bring a variety of Kurdish folk instruments alongside Western instruments like guitar and bass. Of the Kurdish instruments, Danûk leverages the Buzuq, a long neck member of the broader Central Asian, Near Eastern lute family with movable, microtonal frets. Wind instruments include the Mey, a double reeded shawm akin to the Armenian Duduk as well as the double reeded Zurna and the Blur, an end blown shepherds’ flute, known as Kaval across most of the Balkans and Anatolia.
Traditional percussion instruments include the specifically Kurdish frame drum Daf alongside Bendir (Frame Drum), Darbuka (Doumbek) and Dahol (Tupan). Danûk’s repertoire is deeply rooted in Kurdish dance rhythms and both traditional and contemporary folk songs. Their beautiful version of Ciwan Haco’s Zingil (The Bell) is especially moving.
Produced by produced at Michael League, Morîk, is a monument to a deep and shared history that revitalises Kurdish archival music. Four songs adapted from wax cylinder recordings and four traditional Kurdish folklore and wedding songs transmit an aural experience of inflexible symbolism. Morîk yields new anthems of unity and hope for contemporary audiences.
True to its name, Morîk is a rare and genuine pearl. Danûk has uplifted from obscurity these early 20th century archival recordings and added their collective passion, love and virtuosity to this body of wonderful traditional Kurdish songs. Danûk takes their name from the traditional Kurdish cooking vessel used to prepare bulgur. The tradition of “danûk” involves the community gathering around the fire listening to stories and songs followed by a shared meal from the danûk. With Morîk, we are welcomed in to take part.
Extract from the review by Pat Mac Swyney
The album can be purchased through the label OMNISOUND