Amedia Kommagene Series cymbals
Istanbul is the historic home of the cymbal where there are still small foundries producing hand-made cymbals in the time-honoured fashion. One such is Amedia, which was established in 2005 by Ahmet Baykusak.
Amedia's distributor in the UK is Alex Lindley who reveals that the Kommagene series was introduced in 2010, but made available here since 2013. Alex also says that,
"The Kommagenes were originally designed for jazz players. However I know people who play blues, funk, indie and even alt-rock, like Conor Lawrence of Republica, who can't get enough of their sound.
"The Kommagenes are towards the 'top end' of Amedia's ranges, but that is subjective as we feel all our cymbals are as important as each other wherever they sit in the price list."
Being less expensive doesn't mean a lesser quality or poorer sound. As we've marvelled before in Rhythm, Amedia has a fantastically diverse range, with well over a thousand cymbals in almost 30 series.
This is down to Ahmet Baykusak's philosophy, which Alex interprets as, "We make every cymbal by hand, not by a computer program on a machine, which means we can alter and change whatever and however we like."
With such a vast inventory Alex is only able to keep in stock a limited selection, but any cymbal a customer wants can be made to order with an impressive seven-week delivery period.
Like all Amedia's cymbals, the Kommagenes are completely produced in-house, hand-forged and hammered in Amedia's factory in Kucukcekmece, Istanbul.
If the video on its site is anything to go by, Amedia gets as close to the traditional Turkish methods as feasible in the 21st Century. Hot and sweaty and not a little hazardous, you should check out this revealing and fascinating footage.
The Kommagenes are basically B20 bronze, but there is talk of a 'secret combination of alloys' known only to Baykusak. They are individually cast, annealed and rolled, then lightly hammered (except the bells), finely lathed top and bottom before finishing in an unusual antique blue-ish brown colour, the result of a special chemical process.
For review this month we have a small set which comprises 21" ride, 17" and 19" crashes and 14" hi-hats. All the cymbals are medium-lightweight, so fast-responding and bright-edged. Being quite thin they are not the loudest cymbals, but project well.
We were impressed with the 21" ride cymbal, which is lively with character and presence. There's a conspicuous stick sound, pingy and almost clicky, underlain by a warm and generous, soft and full spread. Although it is fundamentally deep-pitched it is still clear and well defined.
This is even more exaggerated by its other striking component - the bell. A real belter this one, clamorous and pure, almost too prominent. In fact the bell is so piercing it threatens to overwhelm the entire cymbal if you're not careful!
A bright attack also gives the two crashes their sharp punctuation. Being quite thin they are quick to explode, swiftly giving way to a warm and deep whoosh.
This is particularly true of the 19" with its fuller body. So long as you don't overplay it with too thick a stick, it also works well as a second, softer ride. If anything it has an even more elegant, crystalline stick touch.
The 17" is more splashy, with a super-sharp tissy, hissy response, a papery-thin freshness. While combining well, the two crashes offer a pleasing musical contrast.
You might be worried that the 14" hi-hats, because of the Kommagene softness and darkness, won't have enough presence. But as with the other cymbals there is a well-defined stick response, so that although the overall timbre is warm, you don't get that too-soft closed sound which makes some hi-hats a bit ineffectual.
Instead, although never piercing, they hold their own when the volume creeps up, stabbing through the mix when opened up a bit and when you go for funky 'shoops'.
Although originally aimed at more traditional styles, with their winning combination of depth and freshness, brightness overlaying a generally dark and earthy quality, the Kommagenes are actually classy all-rounders that should appeal to a broad audience.