Back in 2008, the Turkish rock band Mor ve Ötesi represented their country at the Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade with the song "Deli". My first reaction was surprise: I didn't expect to hear Turkish rock music at Eurovision, but what a pleasant surprise it was.
Fast-forwarding two years: Turkey sent another rock band, maNga, to ESC. But what had become of Mor ve Ötesi?
Whilst on holiday in a boiling Bodrum in Turkey, watching Power Turk TV, Mor ve Ötesi grabbed my attention once more, with the dark video for "Araf", which received regular rotation on the channel, and reawakened my interest in this band. Several plays later, I was completely hooked and headed off to one of the local record shops to buy the band's latest album, "Masumiyetin Ziyan Olmaz" (Your innocence won't go to waste) and I wasn't disappointed.
The band has been around for quite a few years but there is a freshness and urgency pulsating through this album from beginning to end. "Korkma" kicks it all off, and from there on it's just one great track after another.
"Yorma Kendini" was the first single from the album, and is probably the most commercial and upbeat track with an almost funk-rock feel. I'm not so keen on the video though....did they really need all that gratuitous 'eye candy' when the music can speak for itself?
Talking of eye candy....the band's lead singer and guitarist Harun Tekin is charismatic and not entirely unattractive (!) but apart from that, he has a great voice too, and I could listen to him singing all day. There are also some very good vocal harmonies on the album. If you're unfamiliar with Turkish language rock music (as I was) you wouldn't know what to expect, but this is an extremely accessible album of what could be best described as Turkish indie/alternative rock.
I've also been checking out some lyrics translations on the internet and their lyrics can be pretty dark and hard-hitting: particularly "Festus" about a man who died in police custody in Turkey.
"Araf" is for me the album's best track, and indeed one of 2010's best tracks (expect to see a very high placing in my 2010-50 chart for this one!) - it's a slower song but it's compelling, and it completely draws you in and doesn't let go. Harun's vocals are superb on this song.
The other track I want to single out is "2012" which I suppose is the album's title track, given the repetition of "Masumiyetin ziyan olmaz" throughout the song. It may be a little jarring at first, the way he seems to be singing behind the beat, but eventually you realise that's what makes it special. The song builds and builds into a fabulous and anthemic 4½ minutes of chiming guitars and soaring harmonies. Of course, another contender in my year-end chart!
I've never stopped playing this CD since I returned from my Turkish holiday in September, and I'm still not tired of it either. In fact I would go so far as to say that it's my second favourite album of 2010.