Album of the Week // 1–5 March
Altın Gün return with a masterful album that widens their critically acclaimed exploration of Anatolian rock and Turkish psychedelic stylings to include dreamy 80’s synth-pop and dance-floor excursions. Yol (meaning “road”) brings together all vectors of the Altın Gün experience and delivers their most compelling and individual album to date.
Amsterdam’s Altın Gün have built a strong reputation for melding past and present to make brilliantly catchy, psychedelic pop music, as seen with their Grammy-nominated second album, Gece. They are also a renowned live band with strings of sold-out shows on three continents, who have consistently brought a muscular groove to their recordings. Yol, their third album in as many years, excitedly continues these trends; while also digging in deep to unveil a new palette of sonic surprises.
Though it draws from the rich and incredibly diverse traditions of Anatolian and Turkish folk music, Yol is not just a record that reframes traditional sounds for a contemporary audience. The album often presents a textured, avant-pop sound as evidenced by the debut single ‘Ordunun Dereleri’. Mysterious and atmospheric, the track is a thrilling evolution for the band. It patiently coaxes the listener into a resonant soundworld of down-tempo electro beats, majestic synths and Erdinç Ecevit’s yearning vocal of unrequited love.
The album also signals a very different approach in making and recording for the band. Singer Merve Dasdemir takes up the story:
“We were basically stuck at home for three months making home demos, with everybody adding their parts. The transnational feeling maybe comes from that process of swapping demos over the internet, some of the music we did in the studio, but lockdown meant we had to follow a different approach.”
Yol displays a noticeable dreaminess, maybe born from this enforced time to reflect. And select elements of late 1970s or early 1980s Euro synth pop also shine through. This new musical landscape was nurtured by certain instrument choices; namely the Omnichord, heard on ‘Arda Boylari’, ‘Kara Toprak’ and ‘Sevda Olmasaydi’, and the drum-machine, an instrument that is key to the gorgeous closing number, ‘Esmerim Güzelim’. Dasdemir once more: “bass player Jasper Verhulst loved the song. He said:
“It doesn’t sound like Altın Gün, this sounds like a Turkish kindergarten music teacher from the 1980s using an 808!”
As ever, the tracks are the result of a true group effort, with ideas on Omnichord, 808 and other elements — such as field recordings and new age-esque ideas — continually kicked about between the six band members. At a safe distance of course. The record also owes something special to its production team, the band working this time with Asa Moto (the Ghent-based producer-crew, Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noë) who mixed the record. Before this Altın Gün always recorded on tape with their own sound engineer.
It would be wrong to say that what made Altın Gün such a loved and successful band has been left to one side. The pressure-cookers ‘Sevda Olmasaydı’ and ‘Maçka Yolları’ are classic cuts from the band. And their signature employment of a dizzying array of ideas and approaches can be heard with the marked Brazilian feel of ‘Kara Toprak’ and ‘Yekte’. Cosmic reggae filters through the grooves of ‘Yüce Dağ Başında’, and there is a steaming version of ‘Hey Nari’ which gives the traditional composition by Çekiç Ali a kick onto the dance-floor.
But with Yol, Altın Gün have maybe patented their own magical process of reimagining and sonic path-finding, one probably not heard since the late 1960s and early 1970s British folk-rock boom. Less of a reworking than a seduction, their recordings transport the listener to a world where the original songs never previously inhabited. Merve Dasdemir again:
“After we worked on them, they got a whole new life of their own. Maybe we went a little bit too far (laughs).”
Altın Gün are:
Merve Dasdemir — vocals, keyboards
Erdinç Ecevit — vocals, saz, keyboards
Jasper Verhulst — bass
Ben Rider — guitar
Daniel Smienk — drums
Gino Groeneveld — percussion
You can hear tracks from the album all this week on Morning Mari* (9:00–9:15am GMT).