Album of the Week 05-2014: Barış Manço – Yeni Bir Gün

Discovering Turkish music a couple of years ago was like unveiling a treasure trove to me. One of the first artists from that country to truly have a great appeal to me was Barış Manco. His warm voice and always surprising musical backing, combined with his awesome looks made me dig as deeply as possible to find his material. I quickly discovered that a lot of the stuff I liked was either on ‘2023’ and ‘Yeni Bir Gün’. Luckily, Guerssen Records have made both of these albums available for the western market recently, finally offering me a decent opportunity to add this fantastic album to my collection.

Backing Manço on this record is in many ways the most durable lineup of the Kurtalan Ekspres. The incomparable Ahmet Güvenç, quite possibly the best bass player I have ever heard, had already proven his value on the essential classic that is Erkin Koray’s ‘Elektronic Türküler’ and once again truly shines on ‘Yeni Bir Gün’. Also present here is the guitar work of Bahadır Akkuzu, although the guitar isn’t quite as prominent on here as it was on ‘2023’. It’s Kiliç Danışman’s typically seventies synth work that takes that place here, sometimes lending a distinct Disco flavor to the songs, together with Caner Bora’s drum work, but without the irritating elements of the genre.

Manço has written much of the material heard on this album and he obviously had a musically impressive environment as his goal. That means he doesn’t even sing on some of the best material. The two instrumentals on this album are among the best material on here. ‘Çoban Yıldızı’ can best be described as Middle-Eastern ambient and serves as a fantastic moodsetter for one of my favorite songs on the album, being ‘Bir Selam Sana Gönül Dağlarından’, with its killer Güvenç bass line and driving rhythms. The other instrumental track combines ‘2024’, a spine-chillingly beautiful piano piece by Danışman, and ‘İkinci Yolculuk’, an awesome ensemble piece with some solo spots.

Other highlights include opening track ‘Sarı Çizmeli Mehmet Ağa’, with its fantastic intro melody and powerful chorus, and the heartfelt ballad ‘Aynalı Kemer İnce Bele’, which has yet another chorus that is guaranteed to get stuck in your head. The apotheosis of ‘Yeni Bir Gün’ is arguably the titular suite that closes it. Through several movements that seem to reflect the passing of a day. Or maybe a life. Moving from more tranquil sections (‘Yeni Bir Gün Doğdu Merhaba’) to more dense instrumental work (the awesome ‘Ne Köy Olur Benden, Ne De Kasaba’) to round things off with the monumental ‘Elveda Ölüm’, this is an impressive composition for which Manço and Kurtalan Ekspres deserve all the praise they can get.

Guitar freaks may be slightly better off with ‘2023’, but both that album and ‘Yeni Bir Gün’ are impressive achievements of Manço and Kurtalan Ekspres. The songs on ‘Yeni Bir Gün’ are awesome without exception and the performances are nothing less than amazing. The Guerssen re-release does have some weird sequencing issues, putting together songs in one track that don’t necessarily belong together, but when you just listen to the album, none of that is apparent. That’s when the true genius shines through in 45 minutes of musical mastery.

Recommended tracks: ‘Bir Selam Sana Gönül Dağlarından’, ‘Aynalı Kemer İnce Bele’, ‘Çoban Yıldızı’

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