La Danza Poetica #32 Greece - Wavelengths

μεράκι, κέφι, καημός ... love, joy, sorrow ... Eclectic electronic, folk and poetic wavelengths from Greece. Featuring electronica pioneers Lena Platonos and Stereo Nova, fascinating composers and bands Carte Postale, Imam Baildi, ION, Anna Stereopoulou, and May Roosevelt (mixing the poetry of Dinos Christianopoulos), hip hop / low bap from Active Member with Luka Lesson, and Poetic [Low Bap], a new album from Savina Yannatou, postcards from the multicultural history of Thessaloniki, and honoured ghosts, rebetika singers Stella Haskil and Sotiria Bellou, who are the waves beneath all of our boats. With thanks to Giorgio of Chimeres Radio for sending me some links that led me on fascinating journeys in sound.

Tracklist

Anna Stereopoulou - The Port (galanthus main theme)
Maya Roosevelt - Βγάλε τὴ στολή σου (Music to the poetry of Dinos Christianopoulos)
Carte Postale - Intro + Youth in Revolt
Stereo Nova & Tania Tsanakidou - Na Me Thymase (Remember Me)
Íon - Dialima To Savato - A Break On Saturday
Lena Platonos - Idiotipo Roubini - A Special Ruby
Active Member + Luka Lesson - AWAKENING _ ΞΥΠΝΗΜΑ with Sadahzinia & Brak
Poetic [Low Bap] - Όλα Καλά (All Well)
Spiros Faros & This Fluid - To 9 - The 9
Stereo Nova - Proastia (Suburbs)
Imam Baildi - Argosvinis Moni
Stella Haskil - Bouzouki, Play for Me
Anna Stereopoulou - The Port (galanthus main theme)
ION - Low Land (Fantastikoi Hxoi Remix)
Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonico - Apolitikion Agiou Dimitriou
Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonico - La Cantiga Del Fuego
Maya Roosevelt - Στάξε μου το σάλιο σου (Music to the poetry of Dinos Christianopoulos)
Maya Roosevelt - Καημένε Μακρυγιάννη να ’ξερες (Music to the poetry of Dinos Christianopoulos)
Anna Stereopoulou - Define Me Not (red giant)
Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonico - Tin Patrida Mou Ehasa
Anna Stereopoulou - Define Me Not (red giant)
DJ Click - I Garsona 2014 (Insintesi RMX)
Sotiria Bellou -ιάτα χαμένα

Notes on the show

From a link given to me by Giorgos at Chimeres Radio, in Athens, I went on a fascinating journey this month through the work of Lena Platonos. I admit only a slim knowledge of her previously, thinking of her in a way as the Greek Laurie Anderson. Certainly those links are valid - both artists work with electronic production as a classical music form, as musicians (Laurie with the violin, Lena with the piano); both use poetry and spoken word, their own voice, the anchor of their work; both are concerned with mythology of urban existence, the existential pain of what a friend likes to call "the bewilderness" of urban life, questioning visions of computerised futures. But I'm discovering far more to Lena now, and in many ways she is far more diverse than Laurie, especially in her willingness to experiment and try new forms. The Greek painist and composer was a pioneer in electronic music in her country. Her 1985 album Gallop has recently been remastered and re-released by Dark Entries Records and is probably the best introduction if you're looking for one. Her earliest work featured the poetry of Kostas Karyotakis (in 1981) amid a sea of synthesisers, and later works explored children's nursery rhymes and Hans Christian Anderson. In the '90s she collaborated with Savina Yannatou in a more jazz style, and more recently her works have encompassed poetry by Thodoros Poala as well as electronic singles, ballet and TV composition. Gallop is where I started... and here's where I ended up ... (Cavafy again) ...

The soul seems not in any way muted by time. The 2011 album The Mixer of Lena Platonos features many of her contemporaries covering her works, including Íon, Coti K and Spyros Faros and This Fluid. I feature a couple of those tracks in the show, including Lena's own voice.

There are some others I'd like to mention too this month:

Anna Stereopoulou’s CIRCE :the black cut: album is a part of an ongoing project, first presented live in Athens and Milan. The Vuelvo Libre album which I remixed last year is a part of the wider, global collaborative aspect of Anna’s explorations. CIRCE is Anna’s third album release, continuing her research on the Human Brain (various types of waves, ear structure and function, balance, senses…) Astrophysics, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis theories, as well as many other Art & Science elements including ‘The Black Square’ painting (Kazimir Malevich, 1915), the graphic score of the composition ‘Treatise‘ (Cornelius Cardew, 1963 to 1967) and the ‘semia’ (symbols) found on the Phaistos Disk (circa 2nd millennium BC, Crete island, Greece). Enigmas, mysteries, symbols, mythologies. This only begins to explain the deep reasoning and thinking that underlies this work. Everything about Anna’s work is deeply thought, from the A-E-A-Ǝ-A form of the music (‘Aeaea’ island) to the structure drawn from ancient Greek drama, to the calling up of traditional harmony-rhythm elements from aboriginal and bygone cultures – harmonies and rhythms that call us back to our selves, to “the Sound of our Heart(beat)”. A journey, an odyssey, that is intense but also at times sublimely relaxing. We hear some samplings of this journey through the show, but works like this really need to be heard fully, so I recommend you follow the link and do so! It is a very deep dream. The physical album contains even more secrets and keys to the unlocking of meaning.

Another composer I’ve become enamoured with is Maya Roosevelt. From Thessaloniki, her album Music to the poetry of Dinos Christianopoulos brings together two simultaneously fragile and strong things – Christianopoulos’ voice, and the sound of the theremin. Dinos Christianopoulos is a poet, scholar and literary critic from Thessaloniki, know for his emotional poetry influenced by Cavafy, on the experience of love, particularly homosexual love. Maya Roosevelt weaves his poems into whimsical, rich and often very sad compositions of piano and theremin. Lyrical melodies, elements of Greek folk-pop music and Byzantine church hymns are blended, echoing the literary pseudonym of the poet: “Christianopoulos”, and capturing both the confessional aspect of his poetry and his existential angst. I don’t think that this is available digitally yet, but the packaging is very worth owning as a work of art in itself.

ION (Giannis Papaioannou) is a contemporary musician, sound artist and DJ active in the Athens underground scene, making albums with a complex industrial soul. His latest, MAYΡΗ ΣΥΧΝΟΤΗΤΑ featuresTassos Nikogiannis, Ilias Katelanos, Kostas Matiatos and Spiros Faros on guitars and May Roosevelt on theremin. In the show I feature a remix of the track Low Land from his 2011 release The Last Days of Spring. Giannis says, "The essential reason for these recordings was the internal situation of Athens, where a constant concern seemed frozen on people’s faces. Where any excitement ever existed in search of happiness, seemed now to be fast disintegrating into a panting decay of a mechanical life."

And please seek out this album: Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonico’s fourth album with ECM is a beautifully felt collection of songs from her hometown’s complex history. Once known colloquially as the Jerusalem of the Balkans, Thessaloniki has been home to a host of cultures, religions and ethnic communities. Greeks, Jews, Turks, Bulgarians, Serbs, Armenians, Slav-Macedonians and Pontiac Greeks have shared the city’s diverse life. Yannatou gives all of them a voice. The album features an essay by Sofia Giannatou along with gorgeous photos. Savina’s voice is one I’m very familiar with, sharing a love of her songs with my father. This is going to be a favourite I think in both of our collections. In the show we hear first the Greek human of St Demetriou, the patron saint of the city, and later La cantiga del fuego, a song in the Separdic tradition.

It is probably quite easy for someone like me - who studied ancient Greek texts at uni in my 20s, but who has never yet visited the country - to view Greece with a certain romanticism that does not fit the modern harsh reality. (To quote ION, a kind of 'undergraduate misdirection'?) In July, I will finally go to Athens to learn and experience as much as I can in a short time, the city, the country, the politics, the poetry, the people. Ugliness and beauty are two pillars of much of Greek mythology, which never shied away from the possibilities of humans to corrupt themselves. The artists in this show are united by a total lack of fear to look their art and their politics in the face. That is what makes any artist, any philosopher, any singer or poet, great.

μεράκι, κέφι, καημός - love, joy, sorrow - the three key elements of the rembetiko / rebetiko. Although it may sound beautiful, rembetika is most often about things not beautiful at all. About trials and tribulations, passions and struggles of life. Of course through this unflinching view of the full dimensions of our corporal existence, through voicing it with all your soul, comes joy, love, being fully alive! During the show we hear from Stella Haskil, and we close with this - with thanks again to Giorgio - Sotiria Bellou. My new power animal.