Jasper Verhulst is a Dutch bassist with an insatiable curiosity. He’s been collecting music from all over. A few years ago he fell in love with a singer named Selda Bagcan, who reimagined Turkish fold songs as psychedelic rock jams. Jasper thought it would be cool to bring that idea back to life. The fact that he doesn’t speak or understand a word of Turkish didn’t stand in his way. He put out a call for Turkish musicians living in Amsterdam and found vocalists Merve Dasdemir and Erdinç Ecevit. Soon they coalesced as a six piece group dedicated to doing their own modern rock versions of classic Turkish folk tunes. They chose the name, Altin Gun, which means golden day in Turkish.
For Yol, Altin Gün was forced to change up their workflow. With Amsterdam under Covid lockdown, the band members traded demos back and forth instead of working out arrangements together in the same room. “Esmerim Guselim” turned into an electro pop song when Jasper came up with some drum loops that he sent to Merve. She arranged the old folk song around the loops to create a sound they would never have come up with jamming the studio.
All of the songs are traditional Turkish folk tunes that get filtered through Altin Gün’s fertile imagination. “Yüce Dağ Başında” gets an arrangement heavily influenced by Dancehall and Dub sounds. “Ordunun Dereleri” gets burnished with a nod toward Tears for Fears. Bright electric beats and surf guitar leads make “Bulunur Mu” sound like something from an episode of MTV’s 120 minutes. Yol is a fun record. If you don’t want to think, the Turkish words float by as just another element of the soundscape. There is much more there if you want to dig a little, but you don’t have to. As Jasper told NPR’s Ailsa Chang, “I really enjoy listening to music in languages that I don’t speak because it gives the music more depth. It makes it easier just to feel the music.”