You might think that Affet Robot might be well-positioned to capitalize on recent interest in Turkish post-punk, but the one-man project of Eren Günsan has remained true to a brighter and more melodic strain of darkwave and synth sounds than those plied by many of its countrymen. With a solid pair of releases already on the board, Günsan isn’t setting out to radically rework Affet Robot’s sound on new LP Fiyasko. But in sticking to a style that prioritizes catchy melodies and sophisticated atmosphere, he’s perhaps challenging himself even more by needing to maintain interest in a familiar template, of which Fiyasko does an admirable job.
Aficionados of smoother European acts from the beginning of the cold and darkwave eras will have a field day influence spotting Fiyasko. The high drama new wave of B-Movie or End Of Data, the glowing jangle of The Wake (the Factory one, not Cleopatra’s), and the emotive coldwave of Norma Loy or Asylum Party can all be found in its big synth sweeps and the more insular corners of its restrained guitar work. Affet Robot’s compositions hold up on their own outside of genre exercise, though. The loping synthpop of “Saplantıların Kölesiyim” has an immediate and sweet charm (that one of its lyrics phonetically sounds like “candy candy” to English ears seems like kismet), while “Çelişki” does a good job of switching focus between vocals, synth and guitar while maintaining the same smeared, pastel melodies across all instruments.
That acuity with instrumentation leads to another of Affet Robot’s skills – rendering sounds most listeners are most accustomed to hearing on old vinyl or dodgy mp3 blog rips with modern clarity. If filtering the gloom of 80s darkwave through a modern pop sheen sounds a bit like Drab Majesty to you, well, you’re not entirely wrong. There’s definitely something of Deb & co. in the synth-toms and slowly building drama of “Tutsak”, but Günsan’s relatively strong presence as a vocalist and the slightly sinister turn of the melody gives the track its own appeal.
Fiyasko is, by definition, an exercise in nostalgia; as Günsan notes in the promo, Affet Robot aims to gather “influences from the obscure side of the 80’s”. Fiyasko is certainly the product of someone who’s spent a large portion of their life crate-digging for evocative gems from a time gone by, but thankfully it isn’t just limited to that sort of formal appeal, and does right by its influences with an enjoyably melodic set of tunes.