Deriving their name from the Turkish phase for “Golden Day,” the Amsterdam-based Turkish psych pop act Altin Gün — founding member founding member Jasper Verhulst (bass) with Ben Rider (guitar), Erdinç Ecevit Yildiz (keys, saz, vocals), Gino Groneveld (percussion), Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Nic Mauskovic (drums) — can trace their origins to Japser Verhulst’s deep and abiding passion for 60s and 70s Turkish psych pop and folk and to frequent tour stops in Istanbul with a previous band.
As a result of his tour stops in Istanbul, Verhulst wound up discovering a lot of music that wasn’t readily available in his homeland. But as the story goes, he wasn’t just content to listen as an ardent fan, he had a vision of where he could potentially take the sound he loved. “We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ’60s and ’70s,” Verhulst admitted in press notes. “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.” The Dutch act actively interpret and reimagine this beloved material through a contemporary 21st century lens. “Of course, since our singers are Turkish, they know many of these pieces. All this is part of the country’s musical past, their heritage, like ‘House of The Rising Sun’ is in America,‘” Verhulst explains.
The act’s sophomore album, last year’s Grammy Award-nominated, critically applauded Gece helped the Amsterdam-based act win further worldwide acclaim for their reimagining of traditional Turkish folk through the lens of psych rock and pop. The band’s highly-anticipated third album Yol, the third album from the Dutch act in three years, finds the act continuing to draw upon the rich and diverse traditions of Turkish and Anatolian folk music. But as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, the members of the Dutch act was forced to write music in a new way: they traded demos and ideas built around Omnichord, 808 and other elements, including field recordings and New Age-like ideas by email.
“We were basically stuck at home for three months making home demos, with everybody adding their parts,” Altin Gün’s Merve Dasdemir says in press notes. “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.”
As a result of arrangements featuring Omnichord and 808 — and the new songwriting approach, the album finds the band crafting material that’s a bold, new sonic direction: a sleek, synth-based Europop sound with a dreamy quality that may have been informed by the enforced period of reflection. Additionally, Yol finds the members of Altin Gün enlisting Ghent, Belgium-based production duo Asa Moto — Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noë — to co-produce and mix the album, marking the first time that the band has collaborated with outsiders.
“Ordunun Dereleri,” Yol‘s mesmerizing first single finds the Dutch act pairing an old folk standard with an arrangement centered around atmospheric and glistening synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor drumming paired with Mediterranean-like polyrhythmic percussion, shimmering bursts of guitar, a sinuous, motorik groove and plaintive vocals. And while, being a sleek and futuristic push in a new sonic direction, the track finds the band balancing careful and deliberate attention to craft with a dreamy introspection.
Directed by Bob Sizoo and Najim Jansen, the recently released visual for “Ordunun Dereleri” is an incredibly cinematic fever dream that follows the Dutch act’s Erdinç Ecevit Yildiz driving a white BMW through a sodium and fluorescent-lit cityscape and into an eerie forest where he encounters the rest of the band. Even stranger things occur.