Album Review: Altin Gün – Gece [Glitterbeat Records; April 2019]

On their second album, Altin Gün bring more of their Eastern promise to the fore with a diverse selection of ten tracks, veering from psychedelic rock to electronica, but keeping true to the Turkish folk music which brought together this eclectic, Dutch-based six piece in the first place.

It is in the interpretation of folk music – a similar concept to that employed by The Pogues in relation to Irish traditional music – that really gives Altin Gün their originality. Although – according to the notes provided with this album – only one track (‘Şoför Bey’) is an original, the tradition of Turkish music is present throughout, yet given a very distinctive twist. Purists may not be happy, but they’ll probably be the minority here!

So, it is an update, if you like, of Turkish music – similar to the updates given to other traditional forms of music in other cultures, which we’ve seen through the years. But now it’s the turn of Turkey and time for Altin Gün to take a collective bow. Despite all six members of the band have a special connection with the Turkish music tradition, only singer Merve Daşdemir and Erdinc Yildiz Ecevit (saz and keyboard player) have Turkish origins.

Often, those who have been uprooted from their homes and sent to another country – either first or second generations – become culturally immersed in their original homeland. In the case of Altin Gün, this has manifested itself with the band members’ obsessive fascination with Turkish music. This fascination led to the formation of the band more than two years ago and has propelled them into the limelight, justifiably, with their second dynamic release now available for the world to gobble up.

This listener was previously only acquainted with the name Altin Gün. My lack of knowledge of the band and, more generally, Turkish music, only became apparent once I began researching for this review. The challenge was searching for information. But one doesn’t need to know every little detail to enjoy what is a fine, fine collection of tunes. Indeed, often it is the overarching desire to get the research correct which can spoil our efforts at enjoyment. The accompanying notes tell us: ‘This isn’t music that seduces the listener: it demands attention’. Never has this listener found music easier to latch onto, and to keep my attention. Definitely one of the best releases this year so far.