IT ALL started with Beethoven’s Fifth.
That’s LA-based, Istanbul-born composer and exponent of modern guitar composition Deniz Cuylan’s first and wholly abiding memory of music; it’s the early Eighties, he’s at home in the Turkish capital, all of 5, and the Fifth is spinning on his parents’ turntable. Duh-duh duh-duh … the grandiosity, the majesty of it rings out, seizes him, transports him. He’s going places in his head he never even knew existed.
He plays it over and over and over. It’s speaking to him. The world will never be the same.
Three and a half decades on and that moment of musical rapture, of epiphany, is still the wellspring of everything Deniz aims for, hopes for in music; time can make us cynical, but that seed hit fertile and exceedingly talented soil. Music, he propounds, is the most lucid articulation of the human condition. And today he’s announced a March album, No Such Thing as Free Will, in which he articulates his current personal sonic response to being alive and conscious in the chiming, gorgeous palette of the solo instrumental guitar.
Drop down the page a little, and bathe in the beauty of his first single drop from the album, “Flaneurs In Hakone”, a chiming, glimmering essay in guitar intricacy which recalls the verdancy of James Blackshaw circa O True Believers. Stunning.
It comes armed with a video directed by Deniz’s fellow countryman, Idil Ergün, who takes you on a surreally morphing journey through almost human tableaux.
The song captures an impression of watching humans wandering at repose in the Japanese town of Hakone, famous for its hot springs and views over Mount Fuji.
He says: “Wandering and daydreaming around the cascades in Hakone, the core idea of this song came to me: multi-layered guitar arpeggios creating a chaotic yet harmonious hot spring.”
The album is a real conversation between artist and instrument, spurred into being when Deniz spotted a real artisan’s instrument: the Santos model classical guitar, built by Parisian luthier Thomas Norwood.
His first studio forays with the Santos were frustrating, as if the guitar wouldn’t accept his songwriting. Rather than forcing himself on it, Deniz opened himself to the instrument, letting the Santos reveal its secrets to him. The result is a collaboration of the kind Deniz seeks in all his projects.
Deniz Cuylan’s No Such Thing As Free Will will be released by Seattle’s Hush Hush Records digitally, on CD and on vinyl on March 19th; pre-orders are now open for business at Bandcamp. Get yourself over there.