A new compilation of Turkish music from the 1970s and 1980s tells a story of coups, immigration and personal turmoil.
Review: Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu: an outlandish new compilation of forgotten Turkish funk
As a passionate crate-digger, the Krakow, Poland-born DJ and anthropologist Kornelia Binicewicz has spent many an hour searching for the black gold of rare vinyl. But when she was tasked with curating Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu – a fabulously outlandish new compilation for the venerable Turkish label Uzelli Kaset – Binicewicz’s treasure hunt involved sifting through countless kilometres of shiny brown magnetic tape.
“Uzelli have released more than 1,300 albums on cassette and that’s just the ones that are catalogued,” she tells me. “I was searching their archive for rare [Turkish psychedelic] music for almost two months.
“This is a psychedelic compilation, of course,” adds Binicewicz, of the music that’s now reaching vinyl, CD and digital formats for the first time, “but it’s also a story of immigration. There’s a sadness to it sometimes because it was made by people missing their families and their roots, but there’s also lots of high-energy stuff you can dance to.”
The compilation of 10 tracks from the 70s and 80s explores rock, pop and folk of the time and tells a story of immigration, coups and personal turmoil. Working closely with Uzelli Kaset boss Metin Uzelli and Turkish music journalist/project researcher Murat Beser, Binicewicz, who lives in Istanbul, unearthed the nuggets she thought most likely to delight and intrigue other non Turks.
Among them are Bana Göre Kızlar Çok (There Are a Lot of Girls for Me), a rubbery slice of arabesque funk recorded by karate black belt Ali Ayhan in 1984, and 1979’s Sıcak Bir Sevda (A Hot Passion), by Kerem Güney and Günesin Sofrası. With its fizzing synthesisers, crashing electric guitar and baglama (a Turkish stringed instrument) motifs, the latter song is one of Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu’s key finds.
“Kerem Güney isn’t some crazy psychedelic shaman like [fellow Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu artist] Erkin Koray”, explains Binicewicz, “but he’s one of the most interesting characters on the album. He was influenced by Turkish poets and the existentialist philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre, and he was one of these super-talented musicians forced to do all kinds of other jobs to earn money. He’s best-known as an arranger, so it’s unusual to hear him singing – that’s why Sıcak Bir Sevda is special.”