wed 17/07/2024

CD: Gaye Su Aykol - Istiklarli Hayal Hakikattir | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Gaye Su Aykol - Istiklarli Hayal Hakikattir

CD: Gaye Su Aykol - Istiklarli Hayal Hakikattir

Surf-guitar blends with Turkish tradition

Flamboyant Turkish diva's third album

When, as an artist, you live under the power of a quasi-dictatorship, you choose to stay rather than go into exile, and you want to avoid being thrown into prison, one of the best strategies for opposition is poetry. Turkish rock diva Gaye Su Akyol hasn’t chosen the confrontational path of Pussy Riot, but works instead a rich vein of musical surrealism that questions the power of Erdoğan in a language that the leader and his entourage wouldn’t understand.

The rich and operatic mix on this, her second album with Glitterbeat and co-authored by her partner and co-producer the guitarist Ali Güçlü Şimşek, combines echo-laden surf-guitar with elements of Turkish pop and traditional music. At first this mighty seem unlikely but it works. Why this should be so will remain a mystery, or perhaps it does so because of the musicians’ openness to experiment and their refusal to be boxed in by genres or categories: another clue perhaps as to how this music stands against the narrow-mindedness of ‘illiberal democracy”.

On a track such as “Laziko”, a song about love and loss, guitars make the sound their own. The sensibility of this album owes more to rock – than it does to Turkish roots. Baba Zulu come to mind, but also the more Clash-influenced music of the late Algerian singer Rachid Taha, both of whom have drawn their strength from the high energy and bombast of punk, grunge and psychedelia.

The most Turkish element perhaps is Gaye Su Akyol’s vocal style, wide in range, and flowing with the sensual melisma and microtonal sliding that characterises most of the singing from the Middle East and Arab world.  The instrumental tradition of Turkey is also present in the beautiful violin solo (by Ahmed Ayzit) on “Gölgende Bir Başima”, which snakes the way out of the song with mesmerising charm.  The CD comes with lyrics and translations – bearing witness to Gaye Su Akyol’s  commitment to a poetic vision of the world, and the idea, as the album title proclaims, that “consistent fantasy is reality”.

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters