Track Premiere: Reason Why – “Contemporary Art”

Conservative governments are a usual spark for galvanizing youth culture movements. When the 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump occurred in 2016, the notion around America’s counter-culture a week after the votes were tallied and certified was that punk music would once again take off in the country in response as it did during the eight years of the Bush administration. They weren’t wrong; some great music came to fruition during that period alongside the country’s paralleling #MeToo and Black Lives Matter social movements, which gathered global headway during the Trump presidency. 

However, the citizens of Turkey don’t have the same freedoms of speech and protest the West takes for granted. Living under multiple coups and the ruling of President Erodgan’s conservative AKP party for the last 20 years has ensured this isn’t the case with state-controlled media censorship and hardline reactions to any form of political dissent from opposing parties. Case in point, if a politician in the United States publicly insults another public official, it’s considered an unprosecutable opinion in the courts. In Turkey, it’s a state offense that carries prison time and a ban on politics. The current Istanbul mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, faced this when he reiterated comments made by the ruling party’s Interior Minister after overwhelmingly winning mayorship and unseating the AKP’s longstanding reign in Turkey’s most populous city. The court handed him a nearly three-year prison sentence and a temporary ban on politics upon his trial verdict, something that drew international condemnation from Turkey’s NATO allies.  

Reactionary politics is just the tip of the iceberg for the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Extreme inflation (currently the fifth highest in the world), a free-falling Lira currency, economic hindrances (there’s a ban on Paypal, Venmo, and most third-party payment systems within the country), widespread police presence, rising femicide rates from Erdogan’s abrupt pull-out of the Istanbul convention, and the steady erosion of civil rights definitely incubates conditions for some serious punk music to be made. 

Reason Why is one of many bands living under these conditions (I also recommend the metal/punk hybrid Radical Noise, the longstanding street oi of Ofisboyz, and Caz Plak, a jazz label co-founded by an OG Turkish punk). The Istanbul Four came onto the scene in 2022 with their “Spin The Bullet” demo and have started 2024 with the “Contemporary Art” single that will be released via Wargasm Records. “Contemporary Art” is the blatant anthem for the anti-pop art crowd, unyielding in opinion and injected with a UK 82 feel in both production and songwriting. Don’t be surprised if they get more agitated if the Sunday mayoral elections swing back to the right.

Reason Why can be followed on Instagram and Bandcamp. Their “Contemporary Art” single is being pressed on cassette via Wargasm Records

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