Cem Karaca – Nem Kaldi & Edip Akbayram – Nedir Ne Degildir (Pharaway Sounds)

While bands from all over the world embraced psychedelia in the late-’60s, Turkey is one of my favorite psych breeding grounds, probably because acts there maintained a strong sense of “Turkishness”, using distinctly local melodies and instruments like the Baglama and Zurna. These elements give the music an exotic quality that transports you to someplace different, which is kind of the point of psychedelic rock in the first place. Anyway, Pharaway Sounds recently reissued albums by two of the best Turkish psych-rockers, Cem Karaca and Edip Akbayram, complete with remastered sound and in-depth liner notes.

Cem Karaca’s album, Nem Kaldi, is a grab-bag of singles from the ’60s and ’70s and, as you might expect, it’s all over the map. Besides Karaca’s booming Scott Walker-esque voice and melodramatic delivery, there aren’t many constants from song to song, running the gamut from  Curtis Mayfield-styled orchestral funk (“Oy Bobo”) to soft-psych balladry (“Baba”) to crazed funk-prog (“Namas Balasi”). By constantly shifting styles (and sound quality)  Nem Kaldi is somewhat tiring, though the highs make it worthwhile. The highest of those highs is “Unutamadigim,” a heavy rocker with manic double-bass drums and swooping synth squiggles pushing the song further into the stratosphere with each passing second.

Edip Akbayram’s Nedir Ne Degildir is the better of the two. It has the advantage of being an actual album, rather than a singles compilation, so the sound quality and backing band (Dostlar) are consistent throughout. The album dates from 1977, long after psychedelic rock had faded, but Akbayram still uses the sounds of the previous decade, mixing hard rock histrionics with proggy keyboards, funky beats and those great Turkish instruments you don’t hear often in the Western World. Favorites include “Arabam Kaldi Yolda” with its sped up tape manipulations (like “War Pigs”), and “Adam Olmak Dile Kolay” which features an in-the-pocket instrumental section that pretty much rules. In addition to psych-heads, crate-diggers should check this out too for a wealth of funky beats just waiting to be turned into hip-hop tracks.

Cem Karaca – Kardaslar/Apaslar (Guerssen Records)

Before joining Turkish band Mogollar, singer Cem Karaca released a series of solo singles backed by bands Kardaslar and Apsalar. These collected songs, dating from 1969-1971, are good examples of early Anatolian rock – a mixture of Western psychedelia and Turkish folk music. In addition to writing complex arrangements that often employed traditional Turkish instruments rarely heard in the Western World (iklig and balama anyone?), Karaca has a hefty voice that dominates “Niksar” and especially “Dadaloglu,” the best track here, and as intoxicating a meet-up of heady psychedelia and Middle Eastern motifs as you’re likely to find. Worth a listen.


1. Lümüne
2. Demedimmi
3. Kara Sevda
4. Tatlý Dillim
5. Niksar
6. Kalender
7. Oy Gülüm Oy
8. Dadaloðlu
9. Felek Beni
10. Zeyno
11. Kara Yýlan
12. Bu Son Olsun