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
Music

Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".

Music

The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?

Music

Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.

Music

Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.

Music

Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.

Music

Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.

Film

Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.

Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

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.