ELIF YALVAÇ – My Heart of Noise

Möller Records / DL / 2023

ELIF YALVAÇ My Heart of Noise Anxious Magazine

I feel very intimately close to Elif, since I read what she thinks about “music” and its place in her daily life:

“I hear music everywhere: in natural sounds, in electronic sounds, mechanical sounds. I want to capture and shape it so others can hear what I hear and experience what I feel. I’ve spent the last years trying to make sense of a noisy world. My heart is also noisy, but slowly I learn to listen to it better.”

It seems as if Yalvaç understood the peculiarities of a variety of sounds and has launched her own campaign for musical landscapes. Her approach to compositions is as emotional as it is to their individual components — reformatted samples of ambient recordings, the buzz of guitar strings, synthesizers, or even an old Game Boy. Being a graduate of Istanbul Technical University with a degree in “Sonic Arts”, she has acquired the necessary “tools” to serve her successfully in her musical explorations, balancing on the edge of sound engineering.

The title “My Heart of Noise” is also very special to me, I just don’t know how to grasp its meaning. On one hand, it is clear that the music either comes straight from the heart, or it’s  a piece of crap, unworthy of hanging one’s ears on, but on the other hand, I have the impression that this specific heart plays the role of the cyclone’s eye, the epicenter… where all the mass condenses. So it is like a receiver and transmitter at the same time, but a decent one, with the sensitivity of an electroencephalograph.

The album, released on the Icelandic label Möller Records, is (for something bordering on ambient genre) very diverse, thanks to a whole collaborative patchwork of musicians mostly associated with Iceland itself. I sincerely admit that seeing all these connotations, I became very curious as to how Elif, who grew up in a chip-dry, slowly burning Turkey, would process the sounds from the land of volcanoes and ice, and what she would eventually be able to make of them.

While I was aware that she had traveled north more than once, and since the Icelandic label had decided to publish her, she most likely knows “what to do with” the rather peculiar sounds of northern nature, what I was most interested in was whether it would be possible to see that she really hid them in that noisy heart of hers?

The solar-heated hills of Göbekli Tepe “sound” or perhaps “vibrate” rather differently from berry- and grass-covered Norwegian Rødkleiva. My own researches confirm that, and that is what I dare to base my perception on. Physics also backs me up, claiming that sound waves behave differently in different temperatures, and this definetely must affect the overall perception of the environmental “sound garment”. So when stepping onto a glacier, feeling it under her feet, would Yalvaç have a sense of being at home? Does she hear echoes from previous incarnations, or what to call what is going on there, outside the frame of consciousness… You know, when you stand by some Fjord in the Norwegian countryside  for the first time in your  life, and feel as if you atleast once already inhaled THIS air while hearing THIS particular waterfall from afar.

Perceiving “My Heart of Noise” from this very (egocentric, oh horror!) perspective, I confirm that the exam was passed with excellence. I can’t stop myself from thinking that the album itself feels like a collection of short stories. In addition, it’s quite a handfull, so I’ll try to zoom in on the most readable ones for me ;)

Standing second in line to the ear, “Gate Check” recorded with Kristoffer Lislegaard, made me think of an article I saw in “Nature” about “weeping tomatoes.” The Tel Aviv research team proved that plants that are deprived of moisture long enough produce sounds, and I found this “crying”, which is more like the sound of bursting air bubbles, in this very piece, so it will forever be an “ode to the sad bush” for me.

In the third track, “Mielimaisema” (misty landscape), created in collaboration with Saaramaija Zórawski I definitely made my personall sentimental trip in time to the Aphex Twin’s fascinations. The aesthetics, the rhythms, all of it is unmistakably associated with the immeasurable wealth of Richard’s work, and as we all know “all Richards are cool guys” (huehue).

Inevitably approaching the composition “Jökull á heljarþröm” stitched together with Magnuss Bergsson I find it extremely moving, although I only catch the words “glacier” and “hell” from the title. If Ludovico Einaudi hadn’t come shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of Greenpeace activists across the idea of performing “Elegy for the Arctic” on a platform drifting near the foothills of the dying Wahlenbergbreen glacier, the number four could have easily served as the backing track for this mourning song. It’s impossible not to pause over it, not to lean over it… and perhaps it should even be honored with a moment of silence?

Moving on to the title piece, born in collaboration with Daniele Moog Girolamo (with whom Elif was supposedly united by a magical thread of understanding at first sight), which sims like a festival of finely tailored suspense. Such a monolith could indeed only be formed on the basis of a total alliance of souls, and this coherence drips from every note. There was also a moment where I felt as if Anna Von Hausswolff was about to roll in with her crystalline vocals… I could almost hear her, and it was a very strong association with a particular song (guess which one!).

Anyway, It’s a lot for one plate, isn’t it? And further on, we still have to meet mythical creatures of the deep (“Dronasaurus”) and childhood memories of charging through the living room on a rocking horse (“Rainhorse”)… That’s why, concluding this (perhaps overlong) essay, I’m inclining to the theory that Elif Yalvaç’s heart is a meeting place for a variety of sounds that are finding a point of reference for themselves in it, while being a perfect conductor at the same time. It’s all very conscious and personal, as familiar as one’s own pulse… Knock knock. Just bow your head and prick up your ears. 

Marta Podoska