""The joy of Mountains of Tongues is that it leaves the ethnic, self-identifying dimension of these unfamiliar musical utterances intact, and the poetry still shines through" The Wire
Mountains of Tongues, founded by ethnomusicologist Ben Wheeler and anthropologist Stefan Williamson-Fa, have spent the last seven years traveling across the Caucasus region making recordings and collecting examples of lesser known musical traditions. Through selected samples from their hours of field recordings, coupled with carefully curated tracks from a personal archive of collected LPs, tapes, CDs, and home VHS recordings from across the region, their live shows present a unique and vibrant take on the soundscapes and cultures of the Caucasus, highlighting the music’s diverse forms and settings and the local musicians that make all of it possible.
Since the late 1960s the guitar has been adopted and transformed by musicians across the Caucasus. Inspired by traditional genres, such as the courtly mugham and the songs and tunes of ashiq bards, guitarists have developed a unique sound, new techniques and styles of playing. Gitara traces the development of this musical subculture, following the lives of guitarists from the suburbs of Azerbaijan's capital Baku to the rural villages of Borçalı (Kvemo Kartli) in Georgia.
MOTLP01 - Rüstəm Quliyev
This is a cassette of archival recordings, produced in collaboration with Rüstəm Quliyev’s family, and marks the first international release of this guitar legend's music.
Rüstəm Quliyev was born in 1969 in the village of Kosalar, Nagorno Karabakh. At the age of seven he had already mastered the tar before moving on to play the saz. He first encountered the guitar whilst doing his military service for the USSR in Russia and quickly made a name for himself as a guitarist after returning to Azerbaijan. During the early 1990s, after years of intense fighting, he had to flee his home due to the conflict in Karabakh and settled in the capital city Baku where his guitar playing took on a new character. Here he played at weddings, made TV appearances and recorded numerous cassettes with small labels in the city. Rüstəm’s guitar playing not only drew on the rich traditional music of Azerbaijan but his thirst and passion for music also meant that he incorporated styles from across the globe into his repertoire- from Bollywood disco tunes and Afghan pop songs to Iranian street melodies and Spanish flamenco. He crafted a unique sound within an already idiosyncratic subculture of Azerbaijani electric guitar music. Sadly his career was brought to a sudden end in 2005 after a short battle with lung cancer. His music, however, lives on remaining popular throughout the country.
Daniel Spicer writes about music for The Wire and Jazzwise magazines. His book on Turkish psychedelic music, The Turkish Psychedelic Music Explosion: Anadolu Psych 1965 to 1980, was published by Repeater Books in 2018. His collected Jazzwise column ‘Lost In The Vaults’ will be published in book form by Eleusinian Press in 2019. He is currently working on a book about Peter Brötzmann, due for publication by Repeater in 2020. He presents a weekly radio show of improvised music, The Mystery Lesson, on Brighton’s Radio Reverb 97.2FM and at totallyradio.com. He is founder and director of Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival. As an improviser, he has worked with artists including Adam Bohman, Alan Wilkinson, Alexander Hawkins and Konstrukt, and regularly performs in the trio In Threads and the quintet Bolide. He has self-published three collections of poetry: Osshole Accidents in 2012, Notes For Colour in 2015 and From The Bottom Of The Tower in 2018. A new collection of poems and illustrations is forthcoming, on the Slightly Off Kilter imprint, in 2019.