Review: Anatolian Dragon – Gaye Su Akyol rises from the ashes with her new album

The world is most transfixed at the “death or glory” of a musician’s career, especially at that moment when they’re either making a comeback after a long absence from music or marrying new genres into their music. Gaye Su Akyol is having a go at both with her latest album Anadolu Ejderi (Anatolian Dragon).

She kicked off her new musical journey with the album’s lead single “Sen Benim Mağaramsın” [You Are My Cave] on 19 October 2022. After an absence of four years, the Turkish singer made her full official comeback by releasing her fourth album last Friday, 25 November.

A multi-genre unleashing of Akyol’s psyche, fusing Anatolian Pop Folk, Turkish Psychedelia, stoner rock, post-punk and more, the album reaches its surrealist climax with the lyrics of the final track “İçinde Uyanıyoruz Hakikatin” [We Are Waking Up In Reality].

This fantasy world, so metaphorical of modern Türkiye through its political lyrics, blends with Akyol dwelling on a love that was lost.

“Politically and economically, we’re witnessing a country in collapse. There is a lost culture in this country, so much has gone. There are lots of memories of pain in this country, and pain is bigger than anything. I had a chance to see the beauty of the past. Now it’s going down and down, tearing at the deep beauty of this country”, says Akyol ahead of her album launch.

It’s a roller-coaster ride experience, each song is a different state of mind.

Without a doubt, the opening title track “Anadolu Ejderi” is the album’s heart and soul, its very own Mehter [Turkish military] march. It’s a nice jab at Big Brother, summing up what many think of the Turkish government and their hopes for the future.

The song’s lyrics, “Anatolian dragon, maybe [it’s] one of us”, symbolises that power comes from the collective, not a single person. In Akyol’s own words, “It’s the awakening of a mythological dragon from a deep sleep.”

Another outstanding track, “Biz Ne Zaman Düşman Olduk?” [Since When Did We Become Enemies?] feels like you’re the protagonist walking in the backstreets of a cyberpunk city.

The incorporation of traditional Turkish instruments cümbüş, bağlama and saz with electro is the secret element that makes the music all so other-worldly.

Gaye Su Akyol, photo © Aytekin Yalçın


The album’s penultimate song, Akyol’s cover of the very popular Turkish folk song “Gel Yanıma Gel” by Neşet Ertaş, comes as a welcome surprise in what is otherwise a completely self-written album by the Indie singer, in which she’s also very hands-on, playing multiple instruments, including the drums and keyboards, and doing the overall song arrangements.

In the Anatolian Folk-heavy songs, Akyol’s voice becomes a character of its own, so poised that it’s as if her vocals are conducting the instruments like a live orchestra.

And “Bu Izdırabın Panzehiri” [Antidote For This Pain] is a spot-on translation of depression into music, very similar to the unofficial track by Labrinth for an episode of reality TV series Euphoria, “The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed”.

There’s a clear heaviness to this album. İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir [Consistent Fantasy is Reality], Akyol’s 2018 album had a musically airy energy, but Anadolu Ejderi is resolutely a fire-breather. Earth and fire.

It’s an awakening, a transformation. The Anatolian Dragon rising from the ashes.

Listen to Gaye Su Akyol’s new album on streaming sites such as Spotify and Apple Music.

Video for Gaye’s first single, Sen Benim Mağaramsın, from her new album