04 October 2007

When Sufis Retire...

Turkish-born ney player and DJ Arkin Allen, more widely known as Mercan Dede, recently announced his retirement from the music business. I understand.Mercan Dede - Arkin Allen

I understand because I realize that even with the magic a musician can experience being on stage sharing music with an enthusiastic audience, there's a side of the music business that's a grind: promoting, selling, marketing, networking, traveling. I don't know Dede's specific reasons, but life as a musician isn't all roses and royalty checks.

My last albums were Fire, Water and Wind. People were expecting Earth. But when I started it did not feel right. It did not belong to my heart. ... I used to say whenever I started a concert and feel excitement like the first day, I'll keep on doing it. I do still have that energy, but I've been doing this a long time and I think it's important to stop and look at what we did.

It's rare for a musician who's sold hundreds of thousands of albums to bow out so abruptly. Heck, it's rare for a "world music" musician to get popular enough to sell so many albums in the first place! Dede's music seems to have found a balance that appeals to both the club/dance set and the traditional world music fans. He consistently incorporates traditional instruments along with programmed rhythms. His 2006 album Breath is such a work, packed with acoustic instruments and soul.

[mp3] Mercan Dede: Dem feat. Azam Ali
from the album Breath / Nefes

This song also appears on the new compilation Caravan of Light

Mercan Dede's final album is scheduled for release this month. It's entitled 800 in tribute to the Persian poet Rumi, who was born 800 years ago.
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