Amsterdam’s Altin Gün have announced their third album Yol, due out February 26 on ATO Records. Yol is the full-length follow-up to the band’s 2019 LP Gece, which earned a Grammy nomination for Best World Music Album. Fronted by the vocalists Merve Dasdemir and Erdinç Ecevit, Altin Gün have won worldwide acclaim for their reimaginings of traditional Turkish folk songs through the lens of pop and psych-rock. 2020’s coronavirus quarantine forced the band to write music in a completely new way, trading demos and ideas over email. They also brought in outside collaborators for the first time, enlisting the Belgian electronic duo Asa Mototo mix the album. The resulting songs mark a new direction for the band as well, with a shift to a sleeker, synth-driven Europop sound.
Altin Gün has won worldwide acclaim from outlets including The Guardian, MOJO, The New Yorker, and NPR Music, who praised the way the music’s“different worlds meet and form a refreshing danceable sound.” The band followed a 2019 tour opening for Tame Impala with a run of sold-out headlining dates in the US and festival plays at Outside Lands, Pickathon, and Desert Daze. Their incredible KEXP session has been viewed on YouTube almost 2 million times. Altin Gün were scheduled for 2020 appearances at Coachella and Bonnaroo, both of which have been moved to 2021.
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Amsterdam’s Altin Gün have built a strong reputation for fusing past and present to make brilliantly catchy, upbeat pop music, as seen with their Grammy-nominated second album, Gece. Yol, their third album in as many years, continues that trend; while unveiling a number of sonic surprises.
It should be no surprise to learn that the band again draws from the rich and incredibly diverse traditions of Anatolian and Turkish folk music. But however familiar the story, Yol is not just a record that reframes traditional sounds for a contemporary audience. The album, which often presents a strongly international, poppy sound, 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 to a new approach to recording, with the band working with Asa Moto (the Ghent-based producer-crew, Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noë) who mixed the record. Before this the band 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-cooker frugs, ‘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 Ali Ekber Çiçek a kick onto the dancefloor. And whisper it, but ‘Bulunur Mu’ nods to ‘Pa’ by Doe Maar…
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.”
Altın Gün are:
Merve Dasdemir – vocals, keyboards
Erdinç Ecevit – vocals, saz, keyboards
Jasper Verhulst – bass
Ben Rider – guitar
Daniel Smienk – drums
Gino Groeneveld – percussion