Gaye Su Akyol – Hologram Imparatorlugu
Istanbul has a deep, layered history. From its beginnings as a fishing village to one of the pillars of the Roman world. The final stop on the Silk Road. The centre of the Ottoman Empire as the Turks spread their huge net across the Middle East. Across the centuries the city drew in cultures and blended them. Growing up there, singer-songwriter Gaye Su Akyol breathed all that in every day, along with her family’s ancient roots in Anatolia. Those rich traditions combine to form part of the sound she’s developed on her album Hologram Imparatorlugu (Hologram Empire), where sultry Turkish melodies twine around spiky, twanging guitars and insistent rhythms.
“It’s a cliché, but the city is a bridge that combines cultures, and that’s very true in music, especially the Greek influence,” Akyol explains. “When I was young, we visited Anatolia every year. I had the chance to observe and realise the different perspectives and practices of cultures. That made me feel closer to the diversity of Anatolian civilisation.”
But that, and the old music on Turkish Radio Television that she internalized, were only parts of the mix that helped shape her sound. She was constantly seeking out the new and the different, something to set off sparks in her emotions.
“When I heard Nirvana’s Nevermind for the first time, my mind blew up. I discovered other Seattle bands, then people like Nick Cave, Joy Division, Sonic Youth, and Einstürzende Neubaten. A bit later I heard Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” The dark, mellow mood of the music, the use of the instruments and the vocal technique of Grace Slick greatly inspired me and led me into psychedelia and then surf bands. What they all did seemed to fit with older Turkish singers I loved like Selda Bacan and Müzeyyen Senar.”
By then Akyol was already part of a new underground music scene that had sprung up in Istanbul. A military coup in the 1980s led to a repression of rock across the country. After a decade the government’s grip was beginning to loosen, and Akyol became part of the new wave of music, exploring the mix of old Turkish music and rock that she heard in her head.
“Your own culture is important; your parents and grandparents give it to you,” she notes. “No culture is better than any other. I studied as an anthropologist; I know that. So I began finding my culture and mixing it, balancing the traditional and modern elements in my music. My art, my sound. People focus so much on the technical part, but you have to look inside to find out what you want to do. You have to say something new. I want to change the world forever.”
That first disc seeded the ground. The new album, Hologram Imparatorlugu, bears the full fruit of the partnership. It digs deeper, fired with a seductive, shadowy passion. The thick swirl of Oriental strings on ‘Hologram’ plunges towards the heated boil of ‘Fantastikir Bahti Yarimin.’ The dark lullaby of ‘Dünya Kaleska’ weaves a haunted post-punk spell before building to the album’s climax ‘Berdus’ where spaghetti western guitar cracks over a propulsive rhythm and a sensuous Anatolian melody. The sound is cinematic and gorgeous and Gaye’s luminous voice brilliantly orchestrates these shifting moods.
Past, present, future.
Her music, her art.
Label: Glitterbeat Records
UPC: 4030433604021 | 4030433604014
Catalogue Number: GBCD040 | GBLP040
Release Date: 11 November 2016