The Turkish military coup of 1980 separated Turkish music production and reception. Pre-coup Anatolian Pop music of the 1960s and 1970s has been re-discovered and re-released for two decades now with an enormous success worldwide. Yet, Turkish post-coup pop (since 1980) has been almost totally neglected in and by the global music world.
What has happened? Turkish music production continued after the coup, but the medium shifted from vinyl to music cassettes (MCs), being much cheaper in production and consumption. Today we stand in front of “an ocean” (Emir Özer) of releases on MCs, mainly starting in the 1980s, taking up volume massively until the early 2000s. The production took place inside and outside Turkey, including a huge amount of releases made in Germany by independent Turkish music labels.
Up to now, this ocean of releases seems to present certain difficulties for reception. The medium MC seems not only to be outdated – although it has a robust renaissance as a hip medium in certain contexts –, there also seems to be a cheap and lower-class touch to it, a ‘quick and dirty’ touch regarding the modes of production and consumption. A touch hindering more educated Turkish people to deal with the music on the MCs, which is indeed mostly – but not entirely – Arabesk or Arabesk-related music. And at the time in question, the youth interested in pop music was much more into Western (imported) pop. In other words: “Nobody gives a shit about Turkish MCs” (Erbatur Çavuşoğlu).
Having dived into the ocean of cassettes, we found astonishing examples of an afterlife of Anatolian pop, throughout all decades and their styles. Türkü and Aşık-music were combined with disco boogie, Özgün Müzik, neo folk, jazz, new wave, Euro-Pop and Euro-House, rap… an incredible variety and a high-quality output. The quality is also ensured by some of the best pre-coup musicians who continued making music. The rehabilitation of a medium – that is MC – leads us to re-discover islands in the ocean, that are worth visiting.
As proof we would like to present our latest vinyl record re-release by Nyofu Tyson, originally published on cassette only in 1988, now in 2023 re-issued on Seismographic Records.
A Danish-Lebanese Afro-American who has learned Turkish and knows how to play the saz? Who entered the Anatolian Pop scene in Istanbul right in the heyday, the early 1970s? And who got so much musical credit that the renowned Turkish producer Nazmi Şenel released a solo album with him in 1988, recorded in Istanbul and including musicians like Turkish percussion star Okay Temiz? Sounds pretty unlikely. Sometimes highly improbable music gets released. This is the case for his album Türk Lokumu – Turkish Delite. Like nobody before, Tyson connects and opens up Anadolu Pop towards a whole range of styles: New Wave, Reggae, Hip Hop/Break, Latin, Disco Boogie… He shows us how vital, compatible and versatile one could think Anadolu Pop at the end of the 1980s.
For our presentation we would like to show more examples of hidden MC treasures as well as reflect more on this complex medium, which served many different functions in the non-western world. Is it a classist medium or much more a medium of resistance?