Mixtape: Ya Tosiba

Our mixtape series continues with a Skweee selection from Berlin-based Ya Tosiba. Ya Tosiba is like finding an ace hidden channel on short-wave radio. Ya Tosiba is indigenous- interplanetary music born in Azerbaijan then raised on solid-state circuits and cross-galaxy vocal exorcisms.

Imagine walking into a record shop; the latest hot-shots, hipster hits and sonic wallpaper playlisted like an audio IKEA catalogue. Your brain burns for a fresh buzz among the gloop. Then, like you’re in the music store from Clockwork Orange, some droog at the counter spins Ya Tosiba – music that creeps up like language dug from the depths, washed in a sacrificial well, tossed in altered states then poured into your orifices like a divine plague. Ya Tosiba is sexy Persian soma pumping into your cerebral cortex – and the world sounds and looks great again.

Ya Tosiba’s shaman groove was born when Helsinki-based Azerbaijani mystic, Zuzu Zakaria, hiked the backwaters of her heritage to make field recordings of perhaps Earth’s earliest freestyle rappers – Meykhana (‘winehouse’) word artists; Baku beat poets; subversives since the Dark Ages who use wine- infused verse to grip the listener with their outlaw energy. Meykhana was prohibited in Soviet Azerbaijan.

Zakaria performs in clubs and on stages where her verbals work strange magic on receptive freaks. The others just dance. Backed by the heavy-duty analogue squeals of her partner-in-transcendence, Tatu Metsätähti (aka Mesak/Mr Velcro Fastener/Boys of Caligula), YT’s output makes for a great night out. Or in. Or in-and-out. It’s the future now, fuelled by the ancient past. And in a world where goofball has become a benchmark for trendy art and rubbish 4/4 beats, it’s time for ideas that don’t kowtow to the Goof Police.

Ya Tosiba’s truth-pop philosophy has intellectual oomph: Zakaria’s MA thesis led to the publication of ‘The Poetics of Meykhana’, a book produced with folklorist Nizami Tağısoy. But this high-voltage Meykhana is no lecture trip. It’s smart low-culture celebrating higher states in gutter situations; uplifting wonderment kicking against shitty circumstances.

Beware, though – this is proper sorcery. Ya Tosiba plays with mortal minds like a risky spell. If you want to wallpaper, doze off. If you’re ready for wild incantations and dangerous emotions, dose up on Ya Tosiba.