Today, psychedelic Turkish folk rock group Altin Gün embarks on their long-awaited US headline tour behind last year’s stellar LP Yol (ATO Records). The tour kicks off tonight in Montreal, QC, and will see the band perform in major markets on both coasts, including two nights at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg, a stop at Coachella and a sold out Los Angeles performance with buzzy label-mate Nilüfer Yanya. See below for the full list of currently-announced dates.
After the band was discovered and signed to ATO Records following an explosive performance at King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Gizzfest 2018 in Melbourne, Australia, success has continued to follow them, including a GRAMMY nomination behind their sophomore album Gece, wide-reaching praise for its follow-up Yol, and sold-out shows around the world.
Turkish psych folk band Altin Gün are easy to fall in love with. The band, which hails from Amsterdam but comes from various backgrounds (Turkish, Indonesian, Dutch) creates music that opens doors between traditional Turkish folk songs and psych.
They’ve 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.”
April 4 – Montreal, CAN @ Le National
April 5 – Toronto, CAN @ The Axis Club
April 7 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
April 8 – Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater
April 12 – Vancouver, CAN @ Rickshaw Theater
April 13 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
April 14 – Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall
April 17 – COACHELLA FESTIVAL
April 19 – San Francisco @ August Hall
April 21 – Los Angeles, CA @ Roxy (co-headline with Nilüfer Yanya)
April 24 – COACHELLA FESTIVAL
April 26 – Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
April 27 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
April 28 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
April 29 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
April 30 – Washington, D.C. @ Capital Turnaround
May 3 – North Beach Bandshell – Miami, FL