Anatolian Psychedelic Music

Identified with the hippie culture, psychedelia was storming through the music scene in ‘60s, especially in the UK and the US. This new genre also influenced newly blooming Turkish rock scene. Istanbul was on the “hippie trail” and an important transit point for hippies who came from various European countries, having travelled to Kathmandu and India with their colourful busses [1]. Young Turkish musicians who were living in Istanbul at that time got the opportunity to discover current and newly sprung trends in the other parts of the world thanks to these backpackers. But it is unknown whether they were under the influence of any kind of drugs while they were making music because of strict government policies against LSD, opium etc.

Two women in front of the famous hippie stop “Lale Pudding Shop” in Istanbul, 1978. (Rory MacLean)

What made Anatolian psychedelic music unique was that instead of copying their Western counterparts’ works, Turkish artists like Moğollar, Erkin Koray, Selda Bağcan, Barış Manço, Cem Karaca and 3 Hürel combined characteristics of Turkish folk music with Western psychedelia to create a new style using microtonal tunes. In this respect, Anatolian psychedelic music shares similar features with Anatolian Rock considering the use of local instruments such as bağlama, kabak kemane, kemençe, yaylı tanbur, kaval and zurna.

Moğollar, Danses et rythmes de la Turquie d’hier à aujourd’hui album cover.

Another interesting fact; although coming from middle class families, many Anatolian psychedelic music artists politically aligned themselves with the left wing. These young artists were having a challenging time because of their rebellious attitude, and they were dealing with bans by TRT [2] (Turkish Radio and Television Association). Another problem was the impossibility of recording a full-length album in Turkey. It was not the ideal time to debut with an album. Despite these hardships that made it very unlikely to reach an audience, they found alternative ways. For instance, Moğollar recorded and released their debut album “Danses et rythmes de la Turquie d’hier à aujourd’hui” in France and won the Grand Prix du Disque of the Charles Cros Academy in 1971. Other artists like Erkin Koray preferred releasing singles because everyone had the opportunity to produce and distribute their work through 45-rpm singles without having to get permission from state. And some of them recorded their albums as soundtracks like Barış Manço for movies of Turkish cinema industry known as Yeşilçam .

Barış Manço (left) and Cem Karaca (right).
Selda Bağcan
Erkin Koray

Here are some influential tracks of Anatolian psychedelic music that inspired today’s artists such as King Gizzard & Lizard Wizard, Altın Gün, Gaye Su Akyol and Baba Zula.

Sources:

[1] A video from BBC archives showing hippies in Istanbul in 1967 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsreMbABK0w&ab_channel=BBCNewsT%C3%BCrk%C3%A7e

[2] Turkish state television which was only available TV channel until 1990.

References

Spicer, D. (2018). The Turkish psychedelic music explosion: Anadolu psych 1965-1980. Repeater Books.

Baysal, O. (2018). Reconsidering “anadolu pop.” Rock Music Studies, 5(3), 205–219.

Gülteki̇n, S. (2019). TURKISH PSYCHEDELIA: THE REVIVAL OF ANATOLIAN POP [Kadir Has University].