Orient Expressions is a collaboration between Can Utkan aka Dj Yakuza, Cem Yildiz, and Richard Hammer who met at Radio Oxi-gen, an Istanbul based radio station. The trio uses the expertise of their sound engineer Murat Uncuoglu to reach their sonic status. Much more than a mere Sound Engineer, Murat Uncuoglu features as a writer in a good number of tracks. The threesome combines electrophonic sensibilities as applied by Dj Yakuza with Turkish Folkish/ Alevi song and instrumental forms to render a well-integrated sound that moves through polyharmonic, jazzy vibes with darbuka and traditional percussion-laden grooves. Cem Yildiz, a “baglama” master reapproaches Turkish melodies and arranging from a fresh perspective with his innovative stance on such varied instruments as the baglama family, the ud, cumbus and sazbus. Richard Hammer, an American saxophonist based in Istanbul since the 80s, blends woodwinds and harmonic arranging into the mix to complement and amalgamate the sound. There is no stale four/four boom, boom boom that is often the less imaginative route taken in many electro-ethno-projects concerning the “East” and Yakuza strives to maintain a forward bent to the trajectory of the project.
Escape to an enchanting enclave of Eastern Anatolia on Külliyat (After the Fact) released on Doublemoon Records June 2006 , an experimental collaboration with deep roots in the fertile musical soil of Anatolia. Külliyat sees Orient Expressions reunite with internationally acclaimed ethnic vocalist, Sabahat Akkiraz to deliver an album that paints a musical picture of what happens when eastern traditions color the musical compositions of the west. With the help of Akkiraz’s formidable vocals, complex instrumental pieces become epic soundscapes reflective of the modern and the traditional in Turkey today.
The band played at Simdi Now Festival (Germany), La Mar de Musica (Spain), Caz a La Turca (Germany), Ha-Schi- Ba (Netherlands), Albacate (Spain)