Café Türk, an inimitable Turkish-Swiss band formed in the 1980s, will release a self-titled compilation album in November.
Café Türk’s frantic trajectory connects the Swiss town of Schaffhausen and the Turkish city of Kars, and their genre-bending sonic palette draws from Anatolia, the Caucasus, and Western Europe. It’s been three decades since they disbanded, and Zel Zele Records has collaborated with Turkish crate-digger Grup Ses to give the music of Café Türk a new lease of life.
The release features original album tracks, singles, and previously unreleased takes that trace the outline of the group’s history. From the rolling disco of the group’s debut recording, “Haydi Yallah,” to the previously unreleased kosmiche of “Yıldızlar” and the psyched-out interpretation of Caucasian folk, “Şamil,” Café Türk showcases the endless stream of ideas the band had during their time together between 1983 and 1990.
Formed in the early 1980s by Metin Demiral, Café Türk found success via an exciting blend of new wave, rock, disco, and reggae alongside the deep musical traditions of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Their debut record, Pizza Funghi was picked out by a member of German city of Nuremburg’s Cultural Department, and the band was invited to play for the local workers’ unions, many of whom represented immigrants from Turkey. These events only grew in popularity, and the group spent five years touring similar shows in Europe.
Demiral had hoped to bring his new record to audiences in Turkey, but he found it impossible to get any of his songs played on state-sponsored radio because of the infamously strict supervisory board of TRT, Turkey’s state-funded broadcaster. TRT tended to not accept songs that blended both western and traditional Turkish music in order to avoid “degenerating” Turkish folk music. Cafe Türk tried to fight this conservative mindset, but progressively resigned themselves to the political restrictions of the time.
Café Türk came to an end but Metin’s life in music has carried on, working as a sound engineer and opening his nightclub in Schaffhausen which he still runs to this day. The curation and release of this new compilation is a “triumphant tale of an artist whose belief in music is that it should cross boundaries, no matter the restrictions,” the label explains.
The album package includes a four-page booklet with extensive liner notes and photos.
01. Haydi Yallah
04. Kaç Kaç
05. Kimin İçin
07. Ali Baba from Istanbul
08. Baycan (Early Take)
09. Şamil (Early Take)
10. Ali Baba
12. Şöyledir (Early Take)
15. Ali Baba from Istanbul (Instrumental)
Café Türk is available on November 6. Meanwhile, you can pre-order here and stream “Haydi Yallah” in full below, featuring a video of previously unseen footage.