A New Trip Down an Old Road: Turkish Freakout

Cappadocia, Anatolia, Turkey

Image: Alamy via Telegraph

One of my favorite things about psychedelic music is the invitation that it gives you to explore uncharted territory. Whether it’s the murky waters of the subconscious, an intergalactic wasteland, or an intense closeup of the fibers in the Persian rug on your best friend’s floor, there is always something interesting to be discovered. I have always had a love for the sounds of cultures across the globe, so I was delighted to discover Anatolian Rock: Turkey’s answer to 60’s psychedelia. I am guilty as any of random musical obsessions, and at the moment this seems to be it.

Though Anatolian rock is loosely defined as a blend of Western rock and traditional Turkish songs, it seems that the scene developed  genre specific areas such as prog, psychedelic and psych folk. Originating in the late 60’s after inspiration from acts like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, locals in Turkey began formulating their own unique take on the new electric sounds of the time. Many hip-hop artists, such as Action Bronson and Mos Def, have sampled Anatolian style music. There have even been two compilation albums, Turkish Freakout and Turkish Freakout 2exploring the mystical offerings of this period. I have selected a few artists that transformed me into a whirling dervish and caused me to sail to faraway lands and drink fancy coffee after one listen.

Selda Bagcan

Not only did Selda produce some of the funkiest takes on traditional Turkish folk songs, she was also a political rebel who was imprisoned and banned for her protest music. She used traditional instruments like the baglama in her lengthy discography. Elijah Wood is even a fan. There is no way you will convince me that the above song does not sound like Innerspeaker era Tame Impala.

Bari‏s Manco

Considered a legendary performer in Turkey, Manco’s music has been translated into 12 languages. His name translates to “Peace”, and his music embodied messages of the same nature. Also, he is Frank Zappa’s twin.


Also considered pioneers in the genre, the group formed in 1967 in Istanbul. The group is still active today, and is known to some as the Pink Floyd of Turkey. The prog-breakdown at around 1:45 really does it for me. I dig it.

Erkin Koray

The very hip Erkin Koraye hung out with John and Yoko back in the day, and he is credited as being one of the first artists in Turkey to embrace the electric guitar. As you can see from the video, he clearly had the fashion game down as well. I am getting a strong Jefferson Airplane vibe from this.

Listening to music in other languages can be quite a trip in itself. Though I am not able to understand the lyrics directly, the spirit of the troubled times can be felt when listening to these records. Art is often born of pain, and the combination of the summer of love with Turkey’s political battles made for some very triumphant and trippy moments.




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