While not as productive or renowned as fellow Anatolians Selda, 3 Hur-El, or Erkin Koray, this short-lived, psychedelic Turkish act played a pivotal role during the early 1970s in their country’s rock ’n’ roll underground. Those well-versed in Turkish psych (all 10 of you in the US) might recognize some of Bunalim’s members from some classic albums. Vocalist Aziz Azmet recorded with record geek-fetish folk-rockers Mogollar, bassist Ahmet Guvenc played many a gig with regional superstar Baris Manco, and both Guvenc and drummer Nihat Orerel jammed on Koray’ watershed Elektronik Turkuler LP, the closest thing their country produced to Axis: Bold As Love. Bunalim was far more, however, than just a thoroughfare for future cult icons. Though the band only lasted three years and released six singles, all of which are collected here, they underwent a rapid series of evolutions that resulted in a formidable, varied body of work.
“Tas Var Kopek Yok” and “Yeter Artik Kadin,” the only two songs the group cut in 1970, deal in punishing Iron Butterfly-style proto-metal (Bunalim acknowledged the debt: “Yeter” is actually a reworking of Iron Butterfly’s rendition of “Get Out of My Life, Woman.”). Bonham-sized drum fills drop-kick from the sky, hashed-out riffs fizz and flail, and a balls-out scream or two slices through the purple haze. According to the liner notes, the garage sounds of the band’s first 45 weren’t very welcome in Turkey – writer Cagdas Uyar does not tell us why society shunned the music, though. In any event, the four tracks Bunalim released the next year were heavier, more economical, and less distorted. Their best stuff, though, followed in 1972. These tunes mix nuanced electric guitar accents, acoustic folk melodies, and incisive rhythms in a manner similar to 3 Hur-El’s strongest material. Again, the liner notes only clue us partially in to this style shift’s significance – apparently Bunalim fully embraced their country’s pop music conventions toward the end of their existence, but Uyar does not provide us with a description of what these conventions were. Lack of context aside – and in truth, far too many record-grubbing psych-heads don’t give a damn about context – this collection offers another gentle reminder that rock crit’s canon of compelling stories and affecting songs is still far too restricted.