New Internationalist

Import Export à la Turka

April 2008

Turkish sounds from Germany

Thoughtfulness and cultural reciprocity from DJ Ipik Ipekçicglu.

Three years ago, Einstürzende Neubauten’s Alex Hacke hosted an engaging documentary made by Fatih Akin entitled Crossing the Bridge. As a critical study of the myriad responses of Turkey’s musical youth, it was as welcome a study as it was fun: Germany is, after all, Europe’s biggest home from home for immigrant Turks. Now, with Import Export à la Turka: Turkish Sounds from Germany, you might say that Fatih Akin’s film has a counterpoint.

As the album’s compiler DJ Ipik Ipekçicglu (pictured left) recognizes, it’s hard to provide a neat summary of how contact with Germany and the rest of the world has affected Turkish-originated popular musics. It would be as wrong to generalize about outsidership and yearning – although it’s present in Hülya’s Azeri song, ‘Aynlik’– as it would be to regard the electronic inflections of Metin Candan’s ‘Ein Lied an Uns’ as a wholehearted acceptance of a Western club music canon.

Like all of Trikont’s thoughtful compilations, there is a lot packed into a small space, and the 19 tracks lead from breakbeat through drum-and-bass to the indie punk of Sender Freie Rakete’s ‘IstanbulBerlin’ and the Bollywood whirls and ululations of Volkanicman’s ‘Oriental Lady’. At the founding of the new Turkish state after World War One, Kemal Ataturk suppressed the country’s traditional musics in order to promote the ‘intellectually superior’ sounds of Western classical music. He was wrong. Import Export tells us that national art forms and their response and interaction with outside cultures should be a never-ending process or reciprocity.


This column was published in the April 2008 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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