The 500-year reign of the Ottoman Empire was the most pervasive -- and progressive -- influence over Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the upper Arab peninsula. Though the dissolution of the empire and the resultant colonial redistricting of the region was a major destabilizing factor in the Middle East and Balkans, the cultural linkage established between the previously disparate groups is still very much alive. And nowhere is that culture collusion more apparent than in modern Turkey. As the hub of the Ottoman Empire, the country has been resolutely Muslim in tenor for centuries, yet has consistently absorbed the effects of being an object of European affection. The result is a modern, culturally rich land, where old ideologies are deftly merged with the pace of progress. This 15-track collection of newer Turkish music illustrates this, via a diverse mix of songs that range from traditional gypsy ballads to a modern interpretation on the music of the whirling dervishes. All of the songs -- even the most pop-oriented ones from artists like Sezen Aksu -- display the unmistakable strains of centuries of hardwired musical history, heard in both the instrumentation and in the construction of the music itself. So, yeah, you get some rock and you get some pop and you get some jazzy improvisation, but they all sound equally comfortable among belly-dancing tracks. Though Turkish guitar god Erkin Koray is sadly unrepresented, this is yet another installment in the **Rough Guide** series that does more for cultural enlightenment in 70 minutes than any amount of history research could.
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