Deniz' music is beautiful, evocative, and stands alone. This album feels expansive, as if the solitary world of the first has been blown open. Highest recommendation.
Favorite track: As Above So Below.
Deniz Cuylan set out to explore his own distinctive sound on his 2021 solo debut album 'No Such Thing As Free Will.' The album signaled the Turkish musician’s first bold step into the spotlight following a winding 15-year path in the music industry playing in multiple bands with home bases dotted all over the globe – Stockholm, NYC, Istanbul – and tackling a wide array of styles both on the stage and in the studio. Now settled into his current home in Los Angeles, Deniz lends his instrumental talents to create scores for independent films and recurring Netflix original series, yet these projects inevitably fulfill the sonic backdrop for another artist’s vision. Looking inward on his own for the first time, 'No Such Thing As Free Will' laid the groundwork for his own personal soundtrack, one that fused his love of classical guitar, introspective jazz, and ambient expressionism with his whimsical compositional ear. Over a magical 6-track journey, 'No Such Thing As Free Will' painted a lush cinematic narrative with Deniz’s guitar as its guide, delivering an album that “seems to invent new languages for the guitar” (The Guardian) and receiving glowing comparisons to legends like Steve Reich, The Durutti Colum’s Vini Reilly, Glenn Branca, and Bert Jansch.
With such a singular foundation exposed on a debut album, many artists would stay true to their inventive winning formula and find out if lightning could strike twice. Deniz is not one of those artists. An explorer at heart, Deniz unveils a beautifully alluring and lightly adjusted language on his mesmerizing second album 'Rings Of Juniper.' The record continues to spotlight Deniz’s exquisite guitar work and hypnotic compositional skills, yet it boasts a punchier, refined, and more immediate tone right from the start. Accented by a desire to once again uncover a new shade of his sonic palette with the support of a talented cast of friends and artistic collaborators, 'Rings Of Juniper' lays bare a rich, dynamic, and evocative sound that Deniz lovingly refers to as Mediterranean Minimalism.
The album's opening title track jumps right into the foreground, Deniz’s fingerpicked guitar cascading lyrically over a swelling bed of strings that eventually welcome Deniz’s supplemental piano and clarinet into the mix. Although starting out wide-eyed and clear, each instrument gradually begins to sway, swoon, and weave together in a cyclical synchronicity. This harmonious sonic union between Deniz’s playfully restless guitar and its surrounding accompaniment is the enveloping wave that runs throughout the album, and this immersive style reveals its full sweeping glory on the album’s following track and lead single, “Hidden Language Of Four.” A song constantly in motion, the song is a murmuration in action, each instrument peaking and falling perfectly in place, with the song’s conclusive back half ushering in divine moments of profound beauty.
Deniz’s guitar sketches out the framework for each of the album's eight tracks, and its supporting players help fill in the spaces with their own inspirational touch. The strings that enhance each composition are performed by Greg Chudzik, a Brooklyn-based musician who has released solo albums on New Focus Recordings, collaborated with Steve Reich, and serves as a performing member in multiple bands including Bing & Ruth and The Briars of North America. Cem Mısırlıoğlu is the album’s co-producer, his previous work on records by Janka Nabay and Sessa allowing the intimate global flourishes of 'Rings Of Juniper' to fully shine. Mixing duties are handled by Seth Manchester (Mdou Moctar, Lightning Bolt, Battles) and the revered mastering touch from in-demand engineer Heba Kadry (Björk, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mica Levi) brings more grit and danger to Cuylan’s delicate creations. The visual aesthetic of 'Rings Of Juniper' is grounded by the captivating abstract artwork from Istanbul-born, Vermont-based artist Hayal Pozanti, her colorful and flowing 2021 piece Loving Horizon providing the album’s visual centerpiece.
Beautifully eschewing the predictable tropes of classical guitar music, Deniz once again injects a rejuvenated and visionary voice into the genre’s regal canon with 'Rings Of Juniper.' The album is set for digital and vinyl release on October 14th, 2022 and will mark Deniz’s second release on Hush Hush Records, the genre-blurring Pacific Northwest label curated by KEXP DJ Alex Ruder.
released October 14, 2022
All songs written by Deniz Cuylan.
Guitar, clarinet, and piano performed by Deniz Cuylan.
Strings performed by Greg Chudzik.
Co-produced by Cem Mısırlıoğlu.
Mixed by Seth Manchester.
Mastered by Heba Kadry.
Artwork by Hayal Pozanti
supported by 18 fans who also own “Rings Of Juniper”
Stunning work from everyone involved! Each track is perfectly placed in the the compilation, so relaxing and beautiful. This project is so meaningful to me as a female/queer artist and as someone who focuses a lot on my own mental health... it shines light on an area that needs more representation and attention. This vinyl is already a treasured part of my collection, thank you!