Album of the Week 36-2013: Ogün Sanlısoy – Ben

After Ogün Sanlısoy left Pentagram, he became fairly popular in his homeland Turkey with mainly acoustic based Pop music. That music wasn’t bad by any means, but it always left wonder what his massively improved voice would sound like with a heavier, more Rock-based backing. ‘Üç’ already gave the electric guitar a more prominent place within the music, but ‘Ben’ is an album that truly shows Sanlısoy as a Hard Rock singer first and foremost. Even the ballads have a distinct eighties Hard Rock vibe. This makes ‘Ben’ Sanlısoy’s finest effort so far.

Of course, ‘Ben’ isn’t just a Rock record like many others. First and foremost, there is a distinct Turkish vibe on this record and that is an aspect I like very much. It’s not even in the lyrics, because there definitely are some songs that could have done well on the American market if they had English lyrics, but Sanlısoy does some vocal acrobatics that would be impossible or at the very least incredibly difficult for western vocalists and the Middle-Eastern strings heard on ‘Bu Ne Biçim Aşk’ and ‘İstanbul Sular Altında’ add an irrestistable Middle-Eastern, mystical vibe to the songs.

Although Sanlısoy himself wrote all the music to the record, I won’t believe that his guitarist Aytek Akçakaya had no influence on what ‘Ben’ sounds like. His guitars – which sound great by the way, they have just the perfect amount of distortion – are all over this record and make the album as much as Sanlısoy’s vocals. It’s his riffwork that makes many of the albums finest rocking moments, such as the mystical ‘Anma Arkadaş’, the awesome title track, the riff rocker ‘Küçük Mafya’ and the modern Metal of ‘Çek’.

The ballads on ‘Ben’ are quite large in number, but they’re quite good. As I’ve already stated, many of them have a heavy eighties Hard Rock ballad atmosphere, but without the huge layer of cheese that made Cinderella and Poison so nauseating. Midway through the album, there are three ballads right after each other, which almost feels like overkill. And granted, it was a daring move by Sanlısoy, but two of them are the best ballads on here; ‘Son Kez’ and ‘Yalnız Gittin’, both excellently written ballads with a very strong build-up. And when the closing salvo of ‘İstanbul Sular Altında’ and the simple, yet very powerful Hard Rockers ‘Gidenlerden’ and ‘Yukarıya Bak’, which are edited like they form a two-parter.

Production-wise, ‘Ben’ is near flawless. I would have doubled Akçakaya’s guitars at some points where it isn’t, but apart from that, this sounds great. Sertan Soğukpinar’s drum sound is one of the best I’ve ever heard on a modern Rock production. All this adds to a very pleasant listening experience. ‘Ben’ is a record that should be heard by any Rock fan worldwide. It’s just a shame it’s so hard to get outside of Turkey.

Recommended tracks: ‘Anma Arkadaş’, ‘Bu Ne Biçim Aşk’, ‘Gidenlerden’

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