The perfect collision of international flavors
Altin Gün brought the funk on their latest album, Yol. The band infuses their culturally traditional folk songs with psychedelia and ’70s/’80s Euro synth-funk. The album is a delicate blend of these diverse sounds, with Altin Gün’s output on this project ranging from groovy disco, cosmic psych, to synth experimentation, all combined with a refreshing international flavor and influence.
The Amsterdam native group, much like their music, is composed of several different backgrounds—members are Turkish, Indonesian and Dutch. The group focuses their songwriting on Turkish traditional folk songs, but they always seem to find a way to throw in some extra spice. Founded in 2018 by bass player Jasper Verhulst, the group also includes Ben Rider, Erdinç Ecevit Yıldız, Merve Daşdemir, Gino Groeneveld and drummer Daniel Smienk who joined the group in 2019. Yol is Altin Gün’s third full-length project, a follow-up to their 2019 Grammy award-winning release Gece.
The band released two singles during the lead-up to the release, one of which is “Yüce Dağ Başında.” The song welcomes delicious ’80s era synths and a funky walking bassline. The track feels like an international disco party, and while the language may not be understood by all, this doesn’t stop the song from exuding grooviness and a vivacious spirit. Instrumentation pops in and out throughout the song, creating an upbeat and lush cosmic soundscape while continuing to actively include that Turkish traditional folk music influence and sound.
The second single off the record is “Kara Toprak,” a vibey island jam. The track features a sultry ’70s guitar that lingers on reggae tones as synthetic horns blare and the drumline pulsates. Though the song basks in its blast-from-the-past ’70s soundscape, it still maintains a modern flare—the song also recalls the electronic work of Thievery Corporation. “Kara Toprak” is pleasing to both lovers of the old school sound and those who love modern lounge. It’s the perfect storm.
“Hey Nari” is a perfect representation of what the group is trying to do—namely, bringing all these different elements of the group’s background under one umbrella. It features a hopping disco beat, psychedelic funk vibes and the seamless blending of Middle Eastern instrumentation and luscious guitar lines. The band draws this track’s grooviness and disco drive from Euro synth-pop influences, while perfectly combining everything with their culture and traditional Turkish folk music.
Similar to “Hey Nari,” “Maçka Yolları” features a blend of funk and international sounds, but also introduces a Middle Eastern sound from the saz family of string instruments. The blend of psychedelic and groovy funk with Middle Eastern elements takes the brain for a ride; at first, throwing it off, rendering the listener unsure of what exactly to focus on. Quickly, both head and feet can’t help but bob and dance along to the upbeat rhythms.
“Esmerim Güzelim” brings the album to a close. It’s a track that seems to be in a world all its own. It loses the disco-funk that has run freely throughout the album and instead leans into a stripped-down, more basic instrumentation that relies on a drum machine. Bass player Verhulst has stated that the song is based on a Turkish Kindergarten music teacher’s classroom song—the band just wanted to throw in some more modern musical elements. These bold choices and the mixture of vintage and modern are what made this track Verhulst’s favorite on the album. It’s also likely to become a fan favorite.
In what feels like many musical worlds colliding, Altin Gün’s newest album Yol is a perfect combination of ’70s funkiness, ’80s synths, Middle Eastern instrumentation and a traditional Turkish folk twist. They draw from a wide variety of places, and the final product is somehow even more impressive than the sun of its parts.