A mark to “human age” by maNga: Antroposen

Let me make a note of my personal history, today is 14 December 2021, it’s Tuesday. I listen to the first three songs of Antroposen: Holosen, Habil ve Kâbil, Şimdi Göğe Dolduk, at the entrance of the workplace where I have been working for 1.5 years, in the industrial area in Konya. It’s raining. I go upstairs, sit at my desk and open the notebook on the computer, both because the lunch break is over and in order not to forget my feelings. I’m going to listen to the rest of the album after a few hours. While writing these lines, it says 13.27 in the lower right corner.

Today, maNga released their fifth studio album, Antroposen, on the 17th anniversary of the release of their debut album. This album’s name, which was released at the end of a long preparation period, means “anthropocene”- “human age”. As the weight of human-made objects exceeded the weight of all living things on earth at the end of 2020, the period we live in was called the anthropocene.

Anthropocene: Human-made objects to outweigh living things

By the way, did you know that the root “anthrop/antro”, which means “man, human”, is also found in the name Alexander? Alexander’s origin is Alexandros, meaning alexo + andros = defend + man, “defending man”. After this unnecessary information we added, we continue.

maNga – Antroposen

We see that this cover design, bearing the signature of Erdem Yücel, fits the title and general theme of the album.

The cover is extremely rich in details. The band members are sitting on the half-submerged doll head, our world. We also see a soccer ball floating in the water, which is also a toy. It has a childhood theme. Here’s what this theme made me think about:

  • Children sustain humanity. Unfortunately, it is children who are most affected by wars and poverty. The ones we need to protect the most are the ones we neglect the most.
  • No matter how adult we become, a child continues to live within us. If we could be aware of this child, we would not become desensitized, we would not lose empathy for each other. So we would live happier lives.

Next to the band members, we see various items. The first thing to notice is a SPA mask in the middle. Apart from this, there are objects such as a flag, disco ball, camera, smoking chimney, first aid kit, carpet, umbrella, guitar, fishing rod, radio, book. Each one is a representation of the concepts that shape civilization: countries, entertainment, media, shelter, food, health, vacation, science, art…

The album consists of eight songs. The songs are in Turkish except one. Also, this is the first part, 001, more to come.

  1. Holosen (Holocene)
  2. Habil ve Kâbil (Abel and Cain)
  3. Şimdi Göğe Dolduk (Now We Flow to the Sky)
  4. Batan Dünyanın Malları (Goods of the Sunken World)
  5. El Aman
  6. Alacaklı Topraklar (Claimant Lands)
  7. Einfach (Simple)
  8. Mavi Nokta (Blue Dot)

HOLOSEN

It’s the instrumental opening of the album. It is enriched with guitar, ney and a few musical instruments whose names I do not know. Human voices are also heard. Epic sounds make you feel in a movie. More precisely, it feels like the world itself is a movie. Put on the headphones, sit back and look out the window to make your own music video. It’s maNga effect: perfection.

When I put them side by side with Dem, the opening song of the band’s previous album, Işıkları Söndürseler Bile, I can catch a similarity in their sounds. However, Holosen contains richer melodies than Dem. In Dem, percussion was in the foreground. While in Holosen melodies stood out a little more, rhythm was in the background.

By the way, Holosen means “holocene”, “entirely recent” and it refers to the geological period that has been going on for 12 thousand years. Today we live in both the Holocene and the Anthropocene.

HABİL VE KÂBİL

The song’s lyrics comes from Turkish Sufi poet Yunus Emre’s poem “Bu Ömrüm Yok Yere(My life in vain). It starts with strong guitars & drums, thick notes and a whispered vocal.

The strong music remains throughout the song. While Yağmur Sarıgül, Cem Bahtiyar and Özgür Can Öney build a hard rock sound, the whisper falls behind when the lyrics begin and Ferman Akgül generously reveals his talent by hitting the top notes. Musical satisfaction rises to higher levels. It is quite clear that this song will be one of the most sought after songs of maNga concerts.

In the related poem, the sufi poet takes his life into account and teaches us self-criticism concisely. So what does the name of the song have to do with it? Why “Abel and Cain”? One of Adam’s sons, Cain, killed his brother Abel and shed the first blood on earth. He had committed the first murder of humanity. Since then, we have continued to commit many murders and kill each other. “Kimesne kimseye etmemiş ola / Onu ki kendime ben etmişim ben.” (sketchy translation: No one has done any harm to anyone else, I have done it to myself.)

Therefore, Habil ve Kâbil, is a self-criticism that maNga songs on behalf of humanity.

ŞİMDİ GÖĞE DOLDUK

The song greets us with stringed instruments and takes our souls and transports us to a realm in the color of a little sepia and a little rose. Although the words in this soulful music are woven with literary arts, it also gives its message clearly.

“Çıkış yok evleri yangın yeri / Yok hayatlarının haber değeri”, “Kaçıp kendini kurtaranlar / Duvar örüyor bahçelerinde”, just some of these lines. Translations below:

“No exit, their house is a fire place / Their lives are not newsworthy”, “Those who escaped and saved themselves are / Building a wall in their garden”

Let’s take a closer look at the bridge section:

“Daha dün annemizin kollarında yaşarken… Çiçekli bahçemizin yollarında koşarken…”

This comes from a Turkish children song and means: “When we live in our mothers’ arms as recently as yesterday… When we run in roads of our flowery garden…”

Childhood theme. It shows itself here as well as on the album cover. It reminds us of the innocence of childhood.

By the way, listeners will also notice that the general mood of the song reminds us of Ferman Akgül’s solo project, “Yürüyorum İçimde” (I’m walking inside myself)

There are carousels in the YouTube lyrics video of the song. The carousel is a symbol that has taken place in many works, it represents the traumas experienced in childhood. It points to childhood in terms of being a toy, and traumas in terms of turning around and not being able to move forward despite walking.

“Childhood is like the sky, it goes nowhere.”

Edip Cansever

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The rain continues. The time period called afternoon has already arrived. I will listen to the remaining songs while working: Batan Dünyanın Malları, El Aman, Alacaklı Topraklar, Einfach, Mavi Nokta. Saat 14.44. I regret not bringing my headphones. My fingers are on the keyboard, my tea is half.

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BATAN DÜNYANIN MALLARI

This moving song is the first turntable-including song in the album and Anthropocenic twin brother of Dünyanın Sonuna Doğmuşum.It opens with a cyberpunk sound. It shoots to declining quality, exhibitionism, the passion for authority, and the desire for popularity brought by social media. It refers Andy Warhol’s famous quote “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Also, it reminds us of human suffering, which we forget in social rushes:

“Nuhun gemisi batar / Karaya vurur Aylan’lar”. (Noah’s ark sinks / Alans washs up onto a shore)

EL AMAN

This song, whose lyrics belong to Aziz Üstün, the grandfather of Ferman Akgül, tells the pain of being abroad and the longing for a home. It makes you feel. It is possible to feel the concise and plain expression power of Anatolian poets in the lines. When you miss your home, when you miss your self, when your tolerance for difficulties decreases, break the glass.

ALACAKLI TOPRAKLAR

I’m having a hard time describing it. It wouldn’t be enough to say that it has an original sound; it wouldn’t be enough if I say that the hardness of the music and the richness of the melody are in perfect balance; if I say lyrics are both harmonious and meaningful… I’d say the best is a outrightly maNga song. It is a song that shows the musical maturation of maNga and worthy to be listened to over and over again.

Also, the song teleported me to the 2417 universe. To the universe of the science fiction trilogy written by Sinem Ataklı. I just finished Devrim 2417, and while listening to Alacaklı Topraklar, I felt the anger of children imprisoned in poverty against the immortals, and their longing for their stolen lives. One day I will write a detailed book review covering the whole series, so I’m noting it here.

EINFACH

Einfach is maNga’s first German song. These words, written together by Erci-E and Ferman Akgül, form a nice rock song. The song has a medium sound, and the lyrics are motivational:

“Einfach

Wenn du loslässt, wird es

Einfach

Vertraue diesem Leben

Bleib wach

Sei du selbst, halt dich nicht raus

Erkenne du wirst auch gebraucht

Gebe niemals auf”

My German level is A2 but it was not enough for me to understand, so I typed it into Google Translate:

“Simple

When you let go it will

Simple

Trust this life

Stay awake

Be yourself, don’t stay out of it

Realize you are needed too

Never give up”

MAVİ NOKTA

The instrumental closing song of the album, Mavi Nokta, hypnotizes the listener from the first second. Throughout the album, maNga, which tells about the Earth from within the Earth, goes into space in this outro and looks from there to the blue dot in Carl Sagan’s words.

With its “sweet”, cheerful and rich melody, I can explain how it made me feel: there was a children’s program called In The Night Garden, the blue character named Igglepiggle was lying in his tiny boat on a vast sea and covering the blanket, the sky was full of stars. It’s like I’m looking at Earth which is one of those stars, in the sea of an exoplanet…

GENERAL THOUGHTS

maNga is a band that creates its own “artistic universe” in albums. You don’t just listen to maNga. You see it, you hear it. You can even smell it. I’m not talking about music videos. I’m just talking about how they can create a kind of synesthesia with songs. For example, listeners will understand that the first album maNga has a universe, a city trying to modernize but with broken windows and ruined buildings with SPAs in the test tube, circuses, flying concert venues and superheroes. You feel like you are walking there.

Şehr-i Hüzün also has a universe, there is timelessness here, you wander through the streets of an Istanbul where the past and the future are intertwined, there is a strange sadness in the air, the colors are dark blue and red, a little pale; the weather is rainy.

Songs are the building blocks of these universes. Albums, clips and other images are support columns…

For me, this was the biggest shortcoming of the previous album, Işıkları Söndürseler Bile. It had no “universe”. It’s not really easy to describe, but even though I love the songs in ISB and still listen to it, I couldn’t feel that wholeness.

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Antroposen… It did. It created its own universe. What came to my mind while listening to Anthroposen was the following: There is a city with a distorted architecture where technology has developed, neon lights overlap, but people have become robots and life has no depth. Skyscrapers full of billboards, a whole lot of light pollution. There is a beach where that city ends. It’s a quiet beach. A deep blue sea stretches… The sea waves so calmly that it doesn’t even foam… It’s like a silent protest against that city. Foliage and animals have been destroyed, they have become images of the past, imprisoned in a hologram. But you know that there is an island off the sea that has not yet been set foot. Trees, flowers, animals are on that island. Even the stars seem different from that island.

You are at the beach. It’s cold, your hands are in your pockets. You turn your face away from the bright fuchsia lights and look at the horizon. Your boat is moored on shore. You can go to that island but you don’t, because they might come after you and spoil that pure beauty too, and what are you going to do if you go there? The important thing is to bring life back to these places. If you leave, this city will be lonely. No sign of life will remain, and the last greenery will have left this place with your heart. The lights of the city hit one cheek, and the wind from the sea on the other. Night. No clouds. There are stars in the sky.

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It’s raining. The surrounding is quiet. This time I have a cup of coffee on my desk, a pack of eaten chocolate, outside is dark, the lights are on, 17.01 is written in the right corner of the computer screen…

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