Turkish rock, pop, jazz scene is subject to a great attention both in abroad and in Turkey. On the other hand, decisions in selection of items to be pressed in vinyl differ between the producers abroad and in Turkey.
Vinyl reissues and compilations or new underground artists’ records are generally dealt by vinyl producers abroad with a marvelous exception of Rainbow 45 Records which already pressed reissues of Bülent Ortaçgil and actual productions like Rebel Moves and Nemrud.
The roots of vinyl revival occurred at the end of the nineties and contained stuff that are best known for the psychedelic music era in Turkey like Erkin Koray, Barış Manço and Üç Hürel. They released either compilations or the exact reissues of the original LP’s. As they have used material from the Anatolian pop trinity, exploration of the record companies began to vary to include Cem Karaca, Edip Akbayram, Selda, Ersen, Hardal, Derdiyoklar, Beybonlar, Mazhar Fuat and finally actual underground artists like Elektro Hafız.
The releases in Turkey mostly represent the mainstream artists who are currently popular as pop or rock artists. Some of the reissues contain traditional music artists such as Zeki Müren, Aşık Veysel, but most of the compilations have either low quality of recording or a stereotype of a vinyl understanding that denotes to an approach to consider vinyl as an old and nostalgic item. Therefore the covers can contain such a funny title like “radio days”.
Yaşar Plak reissued some of its albums of which some had been pressed on vinyl before or been pressed on MC or CD and never coincided the vinyl manufacturing times in Turkey. Emre Plak also adopted the same strategy.
By the momentum of Erkin Koray’s popularity abroad especially on vinyl, pirate companies also attempted a “gold rush” to the same materials. This time they used the original cover of Koray’s albums with quite ridiculous track list.
Avrupa Müzik and Sony Music released albums of mainstream musicians like Teoman and Sıla in a stable policy.
Esen Müzik also got involved in vinyl pressing in 2014. The involvement of Esen Müzik was important, as it is a major distribution company of Turkish Music Market. As the sale percentage of CD productions were reduced dramatically, streaming music became an alternative sub sector. The consumption behavior of vinyl listeners also attracted the attention of companies as their tendency of abandoning the consumption of vinyl is lower than typical CD consumers in an environment where free or streaming music is highly available.
As a major distribution company, Esen Müzik naturally discovered the stable demand of vinyl users. Therefore released 3 albums from qualified samples of mainstream music with different genres. The strategy of the company displays clues of its search what music will be preferable for vinyl pressing as the records vary from Black Sea Pop Rock to hip hop.
In 2014, Esen Müzik released Resul Dindar’s album named Dalgalan Karadeniz (Wave Oh Black Sea). Resul Dindar, a well known figure in Laz (an ethnic group located in Black Sea region) pop rock musical scene, was formerly the founder of Karmate. Dindar began his career with hs first group “So Bulurt” in 2005. After a two-year experience with So Bulurt, Dindar formed Karmate in 2008. Dindar recorded two albums with Karmate called “Nani” ad “Niyano”. In 2012, Dindar began a new career as a solo artist.
In comparison with the legendary Kazım Koyuncu of this genre, Dindar and his former group Karmate had a tendency of a more ethnic musical approach. On the other hand we can hear arty bass lines and fusions like the ones Laz folk, jazz and reggae are combined.
Muhterem Sur who was also the bouziki player of Karmate implemented the arrangements. Sur had a tendency in Rembetiko music and studied jazz in İstanbul Bilgi University. At the same time that he collaborated with Karrmate, he also had a group called Rembetikos Skopos.
In 2015 Esen Müzik released Ceza’s LP named Suspus (Complete Silence). Ceza (means punishment in Turkish) is the pseudonym of Bilgin Özçalkan who has been a known rapper, or let’s say Rap Star since the end of 1990s’. Ceza is a satisfactory rapper that fulfills the standards of a universal hip-hop artist with not only his performance and lyrics but also the samples he uses in his albums.
In this album, Suspus the third track called “Milyon Farklı Hikaye” (Millions of Different Stories) has a great sample of Giorgio Morroder’s soundtrack of Midnight Express. Also in B5 named “Kim Olduğunu Unut” (Forget Who You Were), Ceza uses a soundtrack sample from Cahit Berkay (David Gilmour of Moğollar). Both of these two songs belong to İsmail Genç.
Ceza made arrangements in a co-operation with Buğra Kunt in the studio of Alper Erinç who is an important figure in retro ethnic pop-rock productions. Erinç also plays Lavta in Ceza’s album. Cenk Turan plays guitars and Emre Kula plays basses in most of the songs. DJ Sivo makes scratches in first 3 tracks.
In 7 songs beats and compositions belong to Rokabeat while Da Poet (Ozan Erdoğan) puts his signature on 2 songs.
“Suspus” (Rokabeat) and “Bulanık Sular” (Da Poet) are most significant songs with the perfect minimalist mood. In the last track named “Sessizlik” (Silence) the fuzzy guitar gives an Anatolian Blues temper.
Ceza has a great social observation capacity that bursts out in his lyrics. Although he had his ancestors like Cartel (especially Karakan), Ceza does not use politic or explicit lyrics as liberated as Karakan did before. While his ancestors like Karakan used a great variety sound samples from Anatolian Pop era, Ceza preferred a less but satisfactory amount of samples. In an era we live today with full of under qualified hip-hop performances, Ceza always promises a stable musical quality in his genre.
The last LP that Esen Müzik released is the one of Kürşat Başar in our current year. The album is named Kaldığım Yerden which means “From Where I Resumed”.
Başar is a well-known Turkish novelist, popular columnist, TV anchor and a good sax player. As his original involvement is in the field of literature, his first novel was published in 1988. He had a good reputation with the wide usage of internet as he was one of the first columnists whose works were widely shared via e-mail and then of course social media.
Başar released his first music album in 2012 named Keşke Burada Olsaydın (Wish You Were Here) with the collaboration of celebrity singers such as Sezen Aksu, Levent Yüksel, Erol Evgin, Yaşar, Ayşen and İlhan Şeşen. This second album also uses the same formula as singers like Ferhat Göçer, Nükhet Duru, Candan Erçetin, Jale, Ayşen, Soner Olgun and Nezih Ünen are featured in the album.
In the A side of the album double bass gives the main temper while in the B side electric bass takes the place of the double bass. The main groove of the album is a club jazz mood that gives a popular urban atmosphere as it had targeted its audience in that way. The album was produced by Zeynep Talu who is the daughter of the famous Turkish lyric writer Çiğdem Talu. Talu also writes the lyrics or Turkish adaptation lyrics of most of the songs.
The album opens with a Leonard Cohen adaptation “Dance Me To The End of Love” in Turkish named “Sana Söz Verdim” ( I Promised You). One of the most interesting adaptations is “Bouree” of Jon Lord (with reference to Bach) which was originally in the content of Lord’s solo album “Sarabande”.
Nezih Ünen’s “İstanbul Yorgun” (İstanbul, All Exhausted) and Zülfü Livaneli’s composition on Ahmet Kutsi Tecer’s poem “Nerdesin” and the cover of Orhan Gencebay’s Bir Teselli Ver (performed by Başar’s band and Ragıp Savaş) and bass player Elcil Gürel Göçtü’s composition Her Şeyi Unut (Forget Everything) are the most significant works of the album.
Başar’s band is formed of Kürşat Başar (sax), Burçin Büke (Piano), Erhan Seçkin (drums), Erdinç Şenyaylar (guitars), Elçin Gürel Göçtü (bass guitar), Özgür Ordulu (Keyboards), Onur Nar (Percussion) , Baran Say (double bass).
The initiative of Esen Müzik in vinyl pressing is a good strategic experiment to discover the variety of musical spectrum that can be embraced by the urban listeners who use vinyl as the main collectible music media. Believing that a good established mainstream music is important as much as independent music, I congratulate Esen Müzik for its conscious selection of music to be pressed on vinyl, adding that the company should also discover the need of analog recording and mastering especially in its jazz and ethnic pop recordings.