Love Peace And Poetry Vol 9:Turkish Psychedelic Music
This is number nine in the ongoing and continually astounding compilation series, after last year’s African volume, Turkish likewise confirms the presence of another fertile psychedelic scene lost to international obscurity. Several tracks, including a couple of my favorites by the still-active master Erkin Koray and truly unclassifiable Moğollar, come from bands already included in the Asian volume but welcome here alongside lesser-known and just as compelling artists. Like all of the Asian pysch I’ve heard, the Turkish variety is most compelling in the way the Western psychedelic rock archetype gets filtered through Eastern interpretation and augmented by local tradition.
Unlike Southeast Asian and Pacific Rim psych, which tends to either ape Western styles to amusingly warped degrees or let the music run over into the manic redirections of local pop music, Turkish psych achieves a leaner combination of styles. Almost every track here (save three or four) favors the clipped, driving psych sound of the popular West, with elements of Turkish folk (türkü) entering only with the vocal or the leading melodic line, usually guitar or traditional stringed instruments (saz, sitar, bouzouki).
Strangely, these songs tend not to drift into the freak-outs or heady textures that I associate with Middle Eastern or South Asian music’s preoccupation with transcendental states. (Perhaps this is more evidence of reactionary tendencies in the scene, or just the fallacy of my Western ear.) Adherence to the Western pop format is, for the most part, uniform, but this is never a deterrent. Hearing the beautiful Eastern lilts and intervals jostled within the fiery shuffle of Western psych breakdowns is invigorating for both, creating an urgency and timelessness that is always perfectly recovered on these comps, but really comes screaming out here, as on the Mexican volume.Yes, there are always exceptions, and with Love, Peace, & Poetry, they’re often the best parts. On the previous Asian volume, Moğollar laid down a Durutti Column-esque bliss-out of plucked guitar and ocean ambience; here they drop the Eastern funk, the dreamy, firm Eastern funk, like Sun City Girls, except sober and enlightened, with a sweaty organ--brilliant. Moğollar truly has a unique sound, dubbed ‘Anadolu Pop’ upon its release and well worth checking out in full-album form, some of which are available through Shadoks and World Psychedelia labels. My favorites from this volume, however, are the two tracks from Selda: ragged raga jams, over-blasted and tight as hell (strange to hear these melodies with such makeup), with a female vocalist who sounds like a combination of Grace Slick and one of today’s throaty, art-damaged punkers.