Concert Review: Altın Gün, at Palac Akropolis, When the Past Meets the Future
A few nights ago Palac Akropolis shone with an unusual light when Altın Gün – an expression that means "Golden Day" in Turkish – set foot on stage. It was an exciting musical journey that drew a thread between tradition and contemporaneity, leaving the audience frenzy and ecstatic.
Some musicians do not abandon their roots, remaining consistent with their musical tradition and are very often seen as reactionary for this reason. On the other hand, even those who reject tradition to embrace modernity are seen badly, like musicians who don't recognise where they come from.
The ideal, one could say, would be to have both and make them coexist in sweet harmony. And it is in this state of things that Altın Gün found their state of being. The band was founded in Holland only a few years ago, in 2016, when Jasper Verhulst published an ad on Facebook, looking for other members to form a musical group.
The bassist's call was answered by the singer Merve Daşdemir and the singer, keyboardist and bağlama player Erdinç Ecevit Yıldız, both of Turkish origin. The group was then joined by Ben Rider on guitar (replaced eventually by Thijs Elzinga), Daniel Smienk on drums and Gino Groenveld on percussion, all of them of Dutch origin.
It's not easy to define their genre (not that it's necessary). Taking their inspiration from traditional Turkish folk music, Altın Gün was then able to reinvent it, combining the use of synths, analogue organs and guitar pedals, creating a psychedelic sonic explosion. Even before entering Palac Akropolis, the public was already enthusiastically waiting, and the venue was almost completely sold out.
Without an opening act, they immediately started their performance with the powerful "Rakıya Su Katamam", a readaptation of the famous song by Turkish folk songwriter Selami Şahin. The whole crowd danced and swayed to the sweet bağlama sounds of Erdinç, who played with the help of pedals, reverb and wah-wah, which mixed with the screeching synthesizers used by him and Merve.
Already with the second piece, "Vay Dünya", the cover of the Turkish singer Sadık Doğanay, there was a familiar atmosphere, as many people in the very diverse audience knew the lyrics. And so, the performance gave life to a creature born from the symbiosis between musicians and the audience.
The crowd listened at moments in religious silence and at others, they unfolded in shamanic dances. Erdinç, apart from the sound compositions made with two alternating bağlamas, obtained a spatial sound using pedals such as MXR, the Boss graphic equaliser and the chromatic tuner, as well as the use of reverb and the famous and inevitable wah-wah Cry Baby.
He used an Arturia Keylab Essentials keyboard and a Roland for vocal effects. Thijs made use of two Fender Telecasters and a Vox Amp, with pedals much the same as Erdinç for his two bağlamas. Their rhythmic element was also remarkable, since Merve, apart from delighting with the irrepressible and oriental sound of his splendid voice, made use of synths and a synth pad that he beat with his hand almost like a mystical drum.
Groenveld, on congas and djembes, plus rattles and other ethnic percussion was also terrific, giving an incredible solo performance toward the end of the show. And finally, Jasper and Daniel swirled around very different rhythms in perfect harmony. Without wanting to be exaggerated, they all nailed it.
The show continued with the performance of a repertoire of songs from the Turkish folk tradition and beautiful covers such as "Doktor Civanım", by the Turkish musician Ahmet Gazi Ayhan and "Çiçekler Ekiliyor", a piece by the Turkish singer, lyricist and bağlama virtuoso Neşet Ertaş.
The band closed the concert with the overwhelming "Süpürgesi Yoncadan", to then return to the stage – with great joy and acclamation from the audience – to perform perhaps their most famous piece "Goca Dünya" (certainly, since everyone was singing it), a cover by Turkish musician, bağlama player and actor Orhan Gencebay. They ended the night with the enchanting composition "Kırşehirin Gülleri / Halkalı Şeker".
It was possibly one of the most enjoyable concerts I have ever attended. The band's ability to get the whole room involved was astonishing, as was the response from the audience. They were able to alternate moments of calm and persuasive sounds with moments of pure rock psychedelia. In one moment you could see the crowd swaying and in the next, banging their heads.
But there's more. Altın Gün brought to us mere mortals in just over an hour and a half the whole Turkish musical tradition, with a space-time journey in which they took traditional folk music, combined it with progressive music inherited from the Anatolian rock, adding as icing on the cake the psychedelia that borders on shoegaze, all in a completely enriched and embellished key. They shaped a sound universe that everyone who was present felt they were part of.
Prague (Palac Akropolis)
Rakıya Su Katamam
Güzelliğin On Par'etmez
Yüce Dağ Başında
Badi Sabah Olmadan
Kırşehirin Gülleri / Halkalı Şeker
If you have found an error or typo in the article, please let us know by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.