Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu

Various Artists, collected 2017

Uzelli Psychedelic Andolu is a collection of vintage psychedelic rock from Turkey, released in on a German label—popular there in the Turkish Ex-pat community. These sorts of compilations have begun to greatly proliferate, and it raises some concerning questions. Are we, as 'Westerners', merely gawking at the exoticism of it? Are the artists even aware of these compilations, are they getting compensated for their popularity?

I've made some peace with the question of exoticism. For one thing, it's wrong to come to a compilation of music from another culture and expect to sound a particular way. So hearing Turkish culture of the 70s and early 80s respond to rock and pop is recognizing that their culture is not trapped in amber. It had it's own modernity. For another it's interesting to hear a part of our own culture, psychedelic rock, reflected back to us in ways that make it new again. If the pathways taken by the Beatles and Stones seem more like heavily trafficked tollways now, these compilations offer directions that are new to us.

Psychedelic music from the US and Western Europe has always courted it's own, sometimes ugly exoticism. Tibetan bells and sitars are shortcuts to imply a meditative state or Kama Sutra sultriness. On Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu, it's the rock music that's appropriated. The element that strikes me most is always the singing. Turks absorbing rock-n-roll have to make it work with their language and experience. Lines don't flow in easy couplets and the rhythms of the words cut across or arc over music. The modes are entirely rearranged, as other cultures aren't always bound to the 12-tone scale or share our ideas about major and minor keys.

Whether the artists are fully compensated is a trickier question. That comes down, much more to factors of brand and trust. I've read some about the length labels like Luaka Bop and Analogue Africa to go to make sure they are above board. In this case, the original label, Uzelli, issued this, so at least one level of red tape is removed, but at some point you have to take it on faith.