Wow! – a new compilation of Café Türk will shed fresh light on a genre-bending band who sound like the creative genius of New York post-punk and the cream of Turkish psychedelic rock – these are choice finds thanks to Zel Zele Records.
Café Türk were a Turkish-Swiss band formed in the 1980s and their pan-European, outernational music draws from Anatolia, the Caucasus and Western Europe – hailing from the Swiss town of Schaffhausen and the Turkish city of Kars. The three decade wait for the appropriate, further recognition of this pioneering band is now taken up by Zel Zele Records, having collaborated with Turkish crate-digger Grup Ses.
The compilation is out November 6th and features original album tracks, singles and previously unreleased takes that source the very best of the group’s catalogue. The group’s debut recording Haydi Yallah sounds like Konk in their pomp, sitting alongside previously unreleased kosmiche, psyched-out interpretations of Caucasian folk, touring the band’s output between 1983 and 1990 and successfully documenting their energetic take on new wave, rock and reggae influenced by Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Metin Demiral, founder of Café Türk, grew up in Kars, a provincial town in the Northeastern part of Turkey. Kars was once known for its multicultural communities; where you could hear locals speaking a range of languages, from Turkish to Azeri, Russian and Kurdish. Metin could not get any of his songs played on state-sponsored radio, something he attributed to the infamously strict supervisory board of TRT, Turkey’s state-funded broadcaster. TRT resisted songs that blended both western and traditional Turkish music in order to avoid “degenerating” Turkish folk music. As you will hear, Cafe Türk persistently tried to fight this conservative mindset. Metin now works as a sound engineer and has a nightclub in Schaffhausen, which he still runs to this day.
Café Türk turned down a record deal with the esteemed Türküola label (home to Turkish stars like Cem Karaca, Selda Bağcan and Barış Manço), to self-release their own record, driving as far as Berlin to sell them face-to-face to record shops. When their record was picked out by a member of the German city of Nuremburg’s Cultural Department, Café Türk were soon invited to play for the local workers’ unions, many of whom represented immigrants from Turkey. These events grew in popularity and the group ultimately spent five years touring similar shows in Europe, alongside more conventional tours and festivals, before they disbanded.