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Ipek Gorgun - Ecce Homo Music Album Reviews


The Turkish sound artist balances technical precision, emotional potency, and trenchant cultural critique on an album whose individual sounds are as compelling as their widescreen narratives.

In the work of Ipek Gorgun, small moves and grand gestures are equally important. Before she molds her instrumental electronic music into massive shapes, the Turkish sound artist infuses it with precise detail. “I work with milliseconds in the beginning, then I switch to seconds, then to minutes,” she once explained. “At the end, I think about the whole arrangement of the structure... So I zoom in, zoom out, and try to find a way to fit everything in place.” As a result, her compositions connect on the micro level of individual sounds as well as on the macro level of widescreen narrative.

On first listen, Ecce Homo, her second solo album, seems more about the micro. It opens with the tactile chimes of “Neroli,” a track that gets progressively denser but never loses sight of the sonic molecules that comprise it. Gorgun has a talent for spinning fine-tuned sounds that stay resistant to blur no matter how thick her mix becomes. It’s easy to get lost in those textures, the shiny whirrs and low rumbles and drilling noise. But as the album moves forward, Gorgun’s ever-deepening forests prove to be just as compelling as the trees they encompass.

As technical as all of this may sound, Ecce Homo can be quite moving. On pieces like the creeping, piano-echoed “Reverance” and the expansive, atmospheric “To Cross Great Rivers,” Gorgun uses both natural sounds and utterances that feel alien to create habitable worlds. She can sustain these attention-commanding arcs over long stretches, too; on the consecutive tracks “Le Sacre I” and “Le Sacre II,” extended tones and pointillist stabs seem to echo the cycle of calm and nerves that so often characterizes the mood of a momentous occasion. The emotion in Gorgun’s music is sneaky, though. Her technique is so fascinating that you might not notice, at first, that the music is working on your mood as much as on your intellect.

What makes Ecce Homo even more compelling is that, though her music is generally pretty abstract, Gorgun doesn’t shy away from pointed statements. This is most apparent in her use of vocal samples, which ground her open-ended sounds. The most stunning example is “Bohemian Grove” (a reference to the California campground that hosts an annual retreat for an all-male cabal of political elites and the ultra-wealthy), which blends quotes from fearmonger Alex Jones into a hellscape of metallic horror sounds. It’s a risky move; trying to make meaningful art out of cartoonish grandstanding could easily result in a simplistic critique. But by applying the same techniques she uses throughout Ecce Homo, Gorgun creates a work complex enough that it can take multiple listens to fully appreciate.

Most of Ecce Homo is not that literal, however, as Gorgun proves adept at making music that feels universal while retaining her very specific signature. This talent helped make Perfect Lung, the collaborative album she released with Toronto producer Ceramic TL last year, sound unique without throwing out any compositional rulebooks. But it’s when she’s patiently stitching together whole sonic universes on her own that Gorgun’s musical identity is at its most potent. On Ecce Homo, each tiny step reveals the will to run a marathon.


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