Formed in 2016, based in Amsterdam and comprised of Ben Rider on guitars, Jasper Verhulst on electric bass, Daniel Smienk on drums and Gino Groenveld on percussions, Altin Gün is a Dutch/Turkish folk-rock band fronted by two vocalists (and keyboard players), namely Merve Daşdemir and Erdinç Ecevit. Instead of performing covers, the band are revisiting traditional Turkish folk songs and the mid-1970s Anatolian psychedelic rock repertoire through the prism of modern psych-funk while boasting an infectious love for retro disco grooves from the 1970s and 1980s. Altin Gün’s début LP On for Swiss-based Bongo Joe record label immediately established the band’s sound on the world stage. Following on from the Grammy-nominated Gece in 2019, Yol was released on 26 February 2021 last on ATO Records (US) / Glitterbeat Records (Europe).

Gece (2019)

Altin Gün - Gece (2019)
Altin Gün – Gece (2019)

You have to understand that most of these songs have had hundreds of different interpretations over the years. We need something that will make people stop and listen, as if it’s the first time they’ve heard it.” Jasper Verhulst 

The band’s 2017 début single Goca Dünya instantly instantly provided the template for Altin Gün’s boisterous grooves. “Goca Dünya” is a 1972 song by Anatolian rock legend Erin Koray who pioneered a progressive and psychedelic sound in his home country. Altin Gün revisit the song by cranking every instrument up to eleven in a textbook early 1970s-style heavy metal rendition.

On Gece, apart from the only original composition “Şoför Bey”, Altin Gün reinvent a formidable repertoire of Turkish folk songs either in the public domain or from acclaimed songwriters. “Yolcu” and “Leyla” come from the repertoire of folk poet Neşet Ertaş (1938 – 2012), “Derdimi Dökersem” and “Anlatmam Derdimi” from poet Âşık Veysel (1894 – 1973).

The sound of the saz or the bağlama which would have been integral to the original versions is preserved here on many songs and electrified. Arranged for an impeccable rhythm section which never abates, every song feels like the “extended version” of shorter originals. The musicians then constantly launch into exuberant solo sections on wah wah guitars and effects-laden analogue keyboards.

Concluding the record, “Süpürgesi Yoncadan” – another composed song by singer-poet Muzaffer Sarısözen (1899 – 1963) – turns into a spectacular and exhilarating dance-floor anthem replete with key changes, instrumental breaks and reverb.

Yol (2021)

Altin Gün - Yol (2021)
Altin Gün – Yol (2021)

The new record delves again into the rich repertoire of contemporary Turkish folk songs, but this time tapping into the late 1970s euro-disco and 1980s synth-pop aesthetics, both in terms of instrumentation and visuals – descending bass lines, drum machines and plenty of hand claps pepper almost every song. All driven by the electric saz, “Maçka Yollari”,“Hey Nari” and “Yekte” add to the band’s splendid range of irresistible dancefloor fillers. The band also introduce the sound of the omnichord on three songs, an electronic autoharp originally launched in 1981.

Altin Gün, whose name translates as “golden day”, have inspired a fascinating soundscape by retro-fitting “modern” analogue instruments and a pop-rock panache to an older repertoire. In doing so – as members of the Turkish diaspora based in Northern Europe – they have imagined a blissful sonic past that never really existed in the first place to generate a fictitious sense of nostalgia in the process.