Can a brooding darkwave band from Asia Minor that sings its songs in Turkish conquer America? Don’t look now – it’s already happening. She Past Away, the pride of Bursa in Anatolia, has already sold out its upcoming US shows on both coasts. Their July date in Texas is at capacity, too. The word is out: these two Turkish musicians are exemplary practitioners of bracing post-punk and marvelously grim new wave music. Volkan Caner may intone his lyrics in a language that most Americans won’t recognize, but the beautifully bleak tone needs no translator. Their sound is immersive, hypnotic, and powerfully emotional, and at their concerts (and on their records, too), they’re capable of conjuring some black magic indeed.
“Disko Anksiyete,” the latest She Past Away single, is a prime example of the band’s spellbinding approach. Sequenced synthesizers pulse, machine drums icily keep time, and electric guitar paints the corners of the mix black. This is chilly water that Caner and his bandmates are swimming in, but it’s oddly refreshing, and maybe intoxicating, too. He delivers his verses in the haunted, detached, slightly bemused voice of a man who has seen many ghosts.
Perhaps he has. Prior She Past Away recordings suggest that Caner and synthesizer player Doruk Öztürkcan are intimately familiar with the spectral world. Their debut full-length Belirdi Gece earned the group deep respect in Turkey; the mesmerizing 2015 follow-up record Narin Yalnızlık catapulted the band from regional recognition to European renown. The brisk ticket sales for She Past Away’s summer swing through the States – their first American tour – demonstrates that many listeners on this side of the Atlantic have felt the dark reverberations, too. We’d wager “Disko Anksiyete” is the record that is going to break the US wide open for this band, and place She Past Away firmly in the international post-punk vanguard.
And what’s the perfect accompaniment to a chilly slice of synthesizer-driven darkwave? An unnerving video, of course – one that makes all the monsters hidden in the music manifest. In the “Disko Anksiyete” clip, She Past Away takes the stage at a subterranean nightclub where something dangerous is afoot. Nearly everybody in attendance is experiencing some severely altered states, and it’s not clear whether it’s the music that’s driving the young listeners toward brushes with their own mortalities. The video follows a pair of photographers as they journey to the show – and get more than they ask for when they arrive. We’re intermittently treated to footage taken from their perspective, and their grainy shots of their city are deeply suggestive of a beautiful but unstable world.