Gokcen Kaynatan - Gokçen Kaynatan album review

Retrospective celebration of the founding father of Turkish electronic music

Gökçen Kaynatan - Gökçen Kaynatan album artwork

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Gökçen Kaynatan is a perfect example of an artist who has had a profound effect on the musical development of his homeland yet who remains practically unheard of in the wider world.

Born in Istanbul in 1939, Kaynatan first came to prominence as a teenage rock’n’roller, including a stint playing alongside Turkey’s very own rock guitar god Erkin Koray. But it was his fascination with new technology and incorporating electronic sounds into music that really fired his imagination.

In 1972, he got his hands on an EMS Synthi AKS and never looked back, going on to pioneer a potent blend of Anatolian kosmische. Yet despite a reputation for innovative live performances, his long-standing distrust of the record industry meant he produced just two singles highlighting his unique sound, both of which are included here.

However, from the mid-70s, his music could regularly be heard on Turkey’s first television channel, TRT 1, where he used his battery of electronic instrumentsto produce a constant stream of theme tunes, jingles and incidental music, and that’s where much of the material on this excellent collection comes from.

Do anın Ötesi brilliantly encapsulates Kaynatan’s aesthetic, lonely synth notes drifting against some bitingly grungy guitar while a primitive drum machine is pushed to its limits (watch the fantastic footage of him playing this on YouTube). The scratchy aquatic funk of Evren has the same maverick spirit of Can (serendipitously, Kaynatan studied in Germany in the early 70s), while the industrial library music of Cennet Dünyamız sounds like Bo Diddley played by a particularly louche robot.

Essentially a one-man Radiophonic Workshop creating his own sonic universe, Kaynatan’s music reflects a time when technology offered a happy – if slightly off-kilter – vision of the future. His work was a key modernising influence in Turkey’s popular culture and its self-definition as a forward-looking secular society.

Joe Banks

Joe is a regular contributor to Prog. He also writes for Electronic Sound, The Quietus, and Shindig!, specialising in leftfield psych/prog/rock, retro futurism, and the underground sounds of the 1970s. His work has also appeared in The Guardian, MOJO, and Rock & Folk. Joe is the author of the acclaimed Hawkwind biographyDays Of The Underground (2020). He’s on Twitter and Facebook, and his website is https://www.daysoftheunderground.com/