Music

Turkish Synthpop's Jakuzi Keeps It Gloomy on New Darkwave Album 'Hata Payı'

Photo: Aylin Gungor

On Hata Payı, Jakuzi tackles inward shadows: heartbreak, depression, nihilism. It's bleak. It's indulgent. It's good, solid, crowd-pleasing misery, and who doesn't want a hit of that from time to time?

Hata Payı
Jakuzi

City Slang

5 April 2019

Whatever your image is of modern Turkish music - the catchy, Eurodance-infused beats of Sezen Aksu and Tarkan, the space-age psychedelia of Gaye Su Akyol and Baba ZuLa, the vintage vibes of Umut Adan and Altin Gün - it probably isn't centered around the gloomy sounds of 1980s England's darkwave scene. That's not you being narrow-minded; that's the fact that such introverted melancholy is a rare thing to find in Turkish music, especially among male artists.

In that regard, Istanbul-based band Jakuzi is here to make waves. Fronted by Kutay Soyocak, this is a sensitive group that deals in darkness. On new album Hata Payı, Jakuzi tackles inward shadows: heartbreak, depression, nihilism. It's bleak. It's indulgent. It's good, solid, crowd-pleasing misery, and who doesn't want a hit of that from time to time?

Setting the scene is the ocean of synths and bass that open "Sana Göre Bir Şey Yok", a track whose name translates roughly to "According to You, There Is Nothing" and whose lyrics find Soyocak feeling detached from the madding crowd and pondering the futility of solving one problem when so many new ones rush in to take its place. His voice drips with luscious strife, shades of goth-rock stretching it out, languorous.

The tension rises on Bowie-esque "Şüphe", followed by the release of brighter, more percussive "Yangın". "Gördüğüm Rüya" begins with sharp minimalism, a shining guitar line leading into the dreamy lyrical exploration of, as Soyocak puts it, "running away from the realities of life by not getting out of bed." (A topic well worth some angst.)

"Kalbim Köprü Gibi" presents an emotional love triangle with the same style of spacious, vaguely beachy melodies that took the Cure from post-punk to the cutting edge of mainstream pop - not a bad thing, by any means, even if it is a little less than groundbreaking in 2019.

Soyocak directly cites the Cure as inspiration for "Kendine Rağmen", and while the retro influence is clear, this is a track that sounds more modern, a contemporary synthpop gem. The vocals are less taut, and the whole track is a cool break that leads well into "İstemezdim", a peppy tune - or perhaps a frantic one? - bemoaning reality and ending in a death by suicide.

"Toz" and "Bir Şey Olur" open with dramatic keyboard introductions, almost early Rammstein-esque, before accelerating into solid night driving cuts. "Ne Teselli Ne Avuntu" may be the best track on the album, Soyocak's voice going low, pulling the music into a sunken end.

It's easy to spend a lot of Hata Payı trying to figure out what it reminds you of. The Smiths? A little. Bauhaus? Sometimes. Depeche Mode? Definitely. Understanding where this music fits into a modern soundscape is a little more difficult. It would have fit a thriving global scene in the 1980s or early 1990s. It would have ridden a prime revival wave in the early 2000s. Now, as mainstream as synthpop is, taking music back to a place of simple, self-absorbed darkness puts Jakuzi in a smaller niche, especially in Turkey. From a broader perspective, this is almost a tribute to decades past rather than an attempt to add something new to the darkwave repertoire, but looking at it as an individual recording allows us to see a band courageous in its willingness to show vulnerability.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Music

How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.

Music

Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.

Music

Paul Weller Dazzles with the Psychedelic and Soulful 'On Sunset'

Paul Weller's On Sunset continues his recent streak of experimental yet tuneful masterworks. More than 40 years into his musical career, Weller sounds as fresh and inspired as ever.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.