Istanbul has a deep, layered history. From its beginnings as a fishing village to one of the pillars of the Roman world. The final stop on the Silk Road. The centre of the Ottoman Empire as the Turks spread their huge net across the Middle East. Across the centuries the city drew in cultures and blended them. Growing up there, singer-songwriter Gaye Su Akyol breathed all that in every day, along with her family's ancient roots in Anatolia. Those rich traditions combine to form part of the sound she's developed on her album Hologram Ĭmparatorluğu (Hologram Empire), where sultry Turkish melodies twine around spiky, twanging guitars and insistent rhythms.
Hologram Ĭmparatorluğu bears the full fruit of her partnership with back up band Bubituzak who also worked on her 2013 debut. It digs deeper, fired with a seductive, shadowy passion. The thick swirl of Oriental strings on "Hologram" plunges towards the heated boil of "Fantastikir Bahti Yarimin." The dark lullaby of "Dünya Kaleska" weaves a haunted post-punk spell before building to the album's climax "Berduş," where spaghetti western guitar cracks over a propulsive rhythm and a sensuous Anatolian melody. The sound is cinematic and gorgeous and Gaye's luminous voice brilliantly orchestrates these shifting moods.
Echoing the bittersweet tendrils of Turkey's faded past and dramatic present, her lyrics are bold and deeply personal. At times she embraces the nocturnal and romantic. In other instances, she navigates the surreal and the magically real. And in several songs she takes a sharp look at the stark realities of Turkey's political moment. It is no surprise that she cites Turkish writers like Melih Cevdet Anday and Sabahattin Ali and the English poet William Blake as crucial artistic influences. Hologram Ĭmparatorluğu is heady, powerfully intoxicating and beautifully dangerous.