Already too big for venues of this size, much bigger things await these international sensations, a band who are assembling around them a soundworld entirely of their own
It’s not every night that a crammed-to-the-walls London venue the size of Electric Brixton gets to witness the compulsive and propulsive party grooves and mind-expanding musical varieties of Anatolian retro psych pop rock in the flesh. Amsterdam-based international sensations Altın Gün were here to make it so with their biggest London gig to date, roasting with a crowd keen to hear their new – and best yet – album Aşk get a very welcome work-out.
Repurposing music rooted in tradition with a thoroughly modern Turkish-Dutch band set-up, Altın Gün have a considerable array of tools with which to do justice to their forebears’ works. For starters they have two singers. Merve Daşdemir combines her band fronting and hypnotic vocals with synth playing, while Erdinç Ecevit adds synth and his intricate bağlama (or saz) into a mix that also includes bass, drums, percussion and guitar.
They immediately demonstrate their chops with spacey set opener Rakıya Su Katamam, which brings together acrobatic bass, Daşdemir’s plaintive vocals and saz work that starts intricate before giving way to an off-the-wall guitar midsection reminiscent of the psych fretwork of Ozric Tentacles’ Ed Wynne. These scales and time signatures, worked across decades and continents, are accessibly familiar enough that they could readily be described as pop; proving the point and mixing things up some more, Su Sızıyor’s dubby bassline intro and Daşdemir’s vocals conjure nothing so much as Beats International’s Dub Be Good To Me. This is music to feel good to, wherever you’re from, and it comes in forms both catchy and complex.
Variety continues to both captivate and surprise as the set continues. Sounding for all the world like a lost Pink Floyd number, the wonderfully atmospheric Güzelliğin On Para Etmez – proceeds from which have been dedicated to Turkish earthquake relief efforts – is a reflective pause for breath, Ecevit’s vocals stilling the place to contemplation. Yüce Dağ Başında, from their 2021 album Yol, brings out an extra band member to tootle on melodica for a bit before disappearing again. For the hook-laden Doktor Civanim, with its arpeggiated synth and disco-adjacent rhythm guitar, Daşdemir breaks out a loudhailer, to whoops and cheers from the crowd. The repeated breakdowns and build-ups of Kalk Gidelim is another highlight, saz leading the slink-along and the rhythm section amiably following, while Leylim Ley’s mid-paced shimmying conjures images of sunkissed beaches.
Of the older tracks, Yali Yali (from 2021’s Âlem, a digital only release the proceeds of which funded the nature protection group EarthToday, again underlining the band’s consideration of the world around them) is one of the more electronic numbers we get tonight, its synth bass wub-wubs come over like a Turkish cousin of LCD Soundsystem’s Get Innocuous, while the overdriven Leyla, from 2019’s Gece, goes down very well with long-time fans, some of whom gamely sing along, with Kolbastı getting a similar response. Yet while these earlier tracks are fine in themselves, it’s with Aşk’s songs that things move up a gear, the band’s rich musicality finding superb expression. And it’s evident that this is a tight ship.
Already too big for venues of this size, much bigger things await Altın Gün, a band who are assembling around them a soundworld entirely of their own, one rooted in both the traditional and the familiar, yet which has within it so many distinctive routes to explore. Whatever path they next choose, it’s always going to be a journey well worth joining them on.