KFJC 89.7FM
Album Review

Moor, Andy / Kyriakides, Yannis – “Rebetika” – [Unsounds]

Louie Caliente   5/13/2019   CD, International

Rebetika is a type of Greek folk music dating back to the Ottoman Empire, popular in coffee shops, hashish dens, and prisons of the era. Lyrics often describe crime, drink, drugs, poverty, prostitution, and violence. The music is traditionally played on the bouzouki, a Greek instrument with Turkish roots, and can be accompanied by voice, accordion, cymbals, and a variety of other stringed instruments.

Here we have modern re-interpretations of 9 classical Rebetika songs for guitar and electronics from Andy Moor (The Ex) and Cypriot composer and sound artist Yannis Kyriakides. Almost all were recorded live.

Moor’s intricate guitar picking is sampled, layered, and looped. The Greek influence is pervasive, but Kyriakides’ electronic treatment takes it in entirely new directions. Traditional tunes melt into heavy drones. Notes and phrases are deconstructed into sparse collages, then congeal under their own weight into stuttering glitchy rhythms, harkening back to the urban nightlife where this music first took shape. Faint vocal samples (also Greek) heighten the dramatic tension on a few tracks, more like memories of vocals rather than vocals themselves. Love, joy, and sorrow.

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