Mercan Dede is pioneering links between Turkish Sufism and contemporary Western electronic music. Dede, born Akin Alical, actually exists as two musicians - as Mercan Dede he is now renowned as one of the world`s foremost Turkish Sufi musicians, each year travelling globally to work with dervish musicians. And as Arkin Allen he can be found as a DJ at rave events across North America where he specialises in hard techno beats.
Dede is Turkish born but has resided for some time in Montreal. As a musician and producer he subtly fuses the Eastern spiritual traditions of Sufi music with contemporary ambient sounds to create a unique mix of old and new, sacred and secular, East and West. An adherent of Sufi spirituality, Dede brings his holistic understanding of sound, the rhythms of nature and of the universe to his interpretations of Sufi maqams, as well as to his original compositions. Dede is an accomplished musician, playing the ney (reed flute), bendir, frame drum, zarp and udu drum, and has produced and played on four solo recordings: Sufi Dreams (1997), Journey of a Dervish (1999), Seyahatname (2001), and NAR (2002). He has also worked as a producer and performed live with the likes of Peter Murphy, Natasha Atlas, Omar Sosa, Maharaja (formerly Musafir) and Groove Ala Turca.
The Mercan Dede Ensemble, founded in 1997, represents the culmination of Dede`s extensive musical experience over the past decade, both in Turkey and North America. The ensemble includes both Turkish and Canadian musicians in its fluid line-up.
Dede believes the traditional Sufi understanding of music as a means to uplift and harmonize the soul is reflected in the rave/nightclub scenes of Europe and North America. Dede`s ability to mix Eastern rhythms with house and techno beats has found him playing everywhere from underground raves to Womex in Essen. The word `dervish` means threshold; a Turkish newspaper recently suggested Dede was a `dervish for the modern world.`
Garth Cartwright, October 2003