Not long after 9/11, San Francisco’s best record store began stocking up on reissues of Turkish psychedelia. The third wave of musical imports from the Middle East taken up by US hipsters (beginning with their adoption of Ofra Haza in the mid-1980s,) the timing was entirely appropriate. Amidst the wreckage of the World Trade Center, Americans were finding themselves drawn to the sounds of the Islamic New York.

Indeed, if one wants to take a sampling of what makes the music of the eastern Mediterranean so great, you can’t do any better than listen to what’s been coming out of Istanbul over the past fifty years. From classic garage rock to contemporary hip-hop, it’s all there. This 41 minute mix, by longtime regional music afficionados Elders of Zion, compiles some of the better-known artists associated with Turkish psychedelia. Equal parts East and West, it’s a perfect introduction to a chapter in cultural history that’s still in the process of being written.


3 Hürel, Kol Basti, from Hurel Asivi (Disktour, 1976)

Mogollar, Garip Coban, from Mogollar (Disktour, 1971)

3 Hürel, Anadolu Dansi, from 3 Hur El (Disktour, 1972)

Mogollar, Hitchin’, from Mogollar

3 Hürel, Kucuk Yaramaz, from Hurel Asivi (Disktour, 1976)

Ersen, Metelik, from Ersen (2008, Finders Keepers)

Erkin Koray, Turku, from Elektronik Türküler

3 Hürel, Sevenler Aglarmis, from Hurel Asivi (Disktour, 1976)

John Berberian and the Rock East Ensemble, The Oud and The Fuzz, from Middle Eastern Rock, (Verve, 1969)

Edip Akbaryam, Mehmet Emmit, from Edip Akbaryam (Shadoks, 2006)

Artist Note: The sole non-Turkish artist included in this mix, Armenian-American oud virtuoso John Berberian, (artistically contemporaneous with the beginnings of Turkish psychedelia,) is oftentimes cited as belonging to the same larger Middle Eastern psych scene as Israel’s The Churchills, and New York Arab expats The Devil’s Anvil, among others.

Photograph courtesy of Joel Schalit