Kultur Shock, and Other Earth-Shattering International Rock and Rollers

Gino Yevdjevich, left, with Kultur Shock. Krist Novoselic's column runs every Tuesday on the Daily Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @KristNovoselic.
In the mid 1990's because of the Yugoslavian civil war, many people emigrated to Seattle from Bosnia - Herzegovina. I got to meet these folks through the music community. One person I connected with was Gino Yevdjevich. Gino had some musical success in the former Yugoslavia with his pop group Gino Banana. We'd hang out among the ex-pat community at shows and parties where he and I would tell jokes to each other in Serbo-Croatian.

Even though those were good times in Seattle, the war was never far away. Before he came to the United States, Gino and others dogged artillery by performing the musical Hair in the ruins of a theater during the siege of Sarajevo. They put on the show every night as a protest / statement to the world about the terrible assault on humanity. The nightly performance gained worldwide recognition.

On his first trip back to Sarajevo, Gino was visiting his bombed out house and his mom gave him one of his Banana gold record plaques she found in debris. It was beat up and the glass was broken but he still hung on its spot on the charred walls. He than looked at his mom and said, "That's not real gold".

When Gino came to Seattle he wasted no time in starting a band - Kultur Shock. I guess you can describe the sound as gypsy metal. The band has had various members over the years. My friend Jack Endino helped them make their new record - Integration. This record is tight, diverse and rocking. Endino tells me that Kultur Shock are the only Seattle band that he knows of that has played Tartarstan.

Rock music has connected people from all over the world for decades. Loud distorted guitar, crashing drums and heavy bass have shook the world way before our digital revolution. Records, tapes and radio brought rock to all corners, and these places, with their own musical traditions, mutated rock in ways that I find delightful.

About a year ago, combing the vinyl bins I came across an album called - Love, Peace and Poetry - Turkish Psychedelic Music. I was confused a little with the album cover - snapshots of some Southern California girl circa mid-sixites. But I later found out that this art is part of the series of releases of psychedelic music from various nations. Anyway, I put it on the record store turntable and liked what I heard.

This compilation features the work of Turkish musicians from the early 1970's. Some of the best music comes from Selda and Erkin Koray.

Selda Bagcan started out as a folkie but got electric. She did protest tunes at the time that got her in trouble with the Turkish government. One of the best things about her song Bundan Sonra is the hot electric guitar from the rock band backing her - Mogollar.

Erkin Koray is a legend in Turkish rock. I just picked up the reissued vinyl the self-titled Erkin Koray and it's a great listen. Koray drops some tasty eastern guitar licks and arrangements. The geography of Turkey itself is the mash up between Europe and the East. Koray straddles both sides of the Bosporus Straights with crossing traditional music and heavy rock. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant did a good job with their recent explorations of eastern music and rock, but Koray is the real deal.

I've just discovered Turkish rock and I like what I'm hearing. I'm going to get into it. And Kultur Shock are blazing a trail between Metal and traditional Balkan sounds.

Rock is alive and well with a heart beating in 5/4 time. Either new or from the past, there's a world of music to discover.

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