Altin Gun
Photo: Catharina Gerritsen / ATO

Altın Gün’s ‘Aşk’ Is a Satisfying Return to Classic Anatolian Rock

The new Altın Gün album Aşk makes it clear where they are headed: back to their retro roots, bringing forth the sounds of classic 1970s Anatolian rock.

Altın Gün
ATO Records
31 March 2023

The new Altın Gün album Aşk begins with a burst of drums and electricity that make it clear where the band is headed: back to their retro roots, bringing forth the sounds of classic 1970s Anatolian rock as they so often do. It’s a refreshing return to form for the Amsterdam-based group, whose renditions of Turkish folk songs and golden oldies have seen them dabble in many different styles and decades over the last several years. As irresistible as their more synthpop-inspired outings have been, Aşk is viscerally satisfying, a collection of plugged-in rock and dance music that makes the whole body want to move.

At the front of the Altın Gün sound are vocalists and multi-instrumentalists Merve Daşdemir and Erdinç Ecevit, each of whom brings a range of emotions and superstar charisma to the band’s varied catalog. In the opening track “Badi Sabah Olmadan”, for instance, Ecevit glides from a murmur to howl and back again, backed all the while by the winding sounds of amplified bağlama, driving percussion, and Thijs Elzinga’s wailing guitar. His approach to “Leylim Ley” is far more laid back, albeit still powerful. Daşdemir might be even more versatile, going from yearning in “Su Sızıyor” to tender in “Dere Geliyor” to pure velvet amid the disco grooves of “Doktor Civanım”.

Aşk‘s climax comes in a pair of incredibly intense tunes just after the record’s midpoint. “Rakıya Su Katamam” features a resolute Daşdemir on lead vocals, spurred into urgency by Jasper Verhulst’s bass, Daniel Smienk, and Chris Bruining on drums and other percussion, and Elzinga and Ecevit on guitar and bağlama. Following is Canım Oy, for which Ecevit slips into the lead. The instrumentation skews sparser here, with the occasional shimmer adding an eerie shine, but as the interplay between strings reaches a fever pitch, the stakes sound high. Together, the pair of tunes makes for a fiery set of sounds.

Vintage though it is, Altın Gün’s music is nothing if not current, a stylish take on classic rock that plays up the psychedelic aspects of the Anatolian scene with ecstatic relish. Aşk is thus a performance of not just nostalgia but vitality, something that cannot exist without the old but can only be something new, something itself. In the wake of the recent earthquakes that have left tens of thousands dead, the album’s evocation of the Turkish diaspora carries a new significance, a reminder of the importance of performance in maintaining cultural memory.

Ecevit’s final lead vocals on the album are for “Güzelliğin On Para Etmez”, a song originally written by poet Âşık Veysel. Dreamy and melancholy, every element of the arrangement seems to float, a break from the rest of the album’s hard hits that reminds of how much Altın Gün can do. Though it’s easy to think of Aşk as Altın Gün’s comfort zone, it’s also clear that this album has a lot more to give in terms of energy and creativity, one that continues to seize new acid-soaked horizons.

RATING 8 / 10