Barakka was founded by Istanbul native Barış Kaya in 2003, and slowly grew from a collection of personal, original songs he began recording in Philadelphia studios with various local musicians. While playing folk and traditional Turkish music in the area, he had already developed a great rapport with Roger Mgrdichian (oud) and Joseph Tayoun (darbuka). The Barakka project continued in the studio for a few years, involving various session musicians and took on momentum with the involvement of former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza, who recorded on early versions of the anti-war anthem Ağıt.
Early live appearances generated even more interest, as the group found enthusiastic support from not only local middle eastern and Turkish communities (Barış sings predominantly in Turkish) but from American rock and world music fans as well. Eventually, the group that took shape included keyboardist William Tayoun, middle east music veteran Chris Marashlian on bass, and drummer/world percussionist Jim Hamilton. Special guest on the CD is drummer Engin Kaan Gunaydın from the amazing New York Gypsy All-Stars. The songs for Uzaklardan were all expertly recorded by Jim at his own studio, Rittenhouse Soundworks, a longtime home of creative world music projects in the Philadelphia area. Mixing was done by Grammy winner Tim Sonnefeld of Milkboy, with mastering by Grammy winner Evren Göknar of Capitol Records Mastering.
The title of the CD, Uzaklardan, means "far away" or "from a distance" which is a reminder of Barış' roots in Turkey, as well as the general mood of distance, loss, and longing which run through these songs. The cover image of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge reinforces the spirit of connecting over a distance; not only do some of the band members hail from New Jersey, but bridges are beloved symbols in Turkey as well. The band and its music bridge cultures of East and West, as do some of the bridges of Istanbul.
While personal and at times intense, the themes of Barış'songs are easily related by anyone listening to the feeling in his voice and the emotions in the music. The original songs include: Ağıt (Lament), X, Kayıp (Lost), Gri Sokaklar (Gray Streets), Hediye (The Gift), Yalnız Kahraman (Lonely Hero), Şairin Çelişkisi (Poet’s Paradox), and Son (The End). Also included is Barakka's hard rock version of the traditional folk song Hey On Beşli (as well a hidden track on the CD, Hit & Run, a tribute to the former glory of the Philadelphia Phillies).
Barış Kaya: guitars & vocals; Roger Mgrdichian: ud, cümbüş, cura bağlama; William Tayoun: keyboards, piano; Chris Marashlian: bass; Joseph Tayoun: darbuka, percussion; Jim Hamilton: drums, percussion; Engin Kaan Gunaydın:
drums; Hoagy Wing: drum.
Recorded by Jim Hamilton, Rittenhouse Soundworks, Philadelphia PA
Mixed by Tim Sonnefeld, Milkboy Studios, Philadelphia PA
(Track 10 mixed by Dave Downham, Gradwell House Recording, Haddon Heights NJ)
Mastered by Evren Göknar, Capitol Records Mastering, Los Angeles CA