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WHY MOUNTAINS ARE BLACK - PRIMEVAL GREEK VILLAGE MUSIC 1907-1960 (2CD)

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Third Man (TMR334CD)

G. Canteris & G. Gombakis, Elias Karathimos, Efthimios Christou, Demetrios Halkias, Antonios Sakelarou, Christos Baniakas, A. Karavitis & G. Marianos, Athanasios Lavidas and more...

A new and massively enjoyable collection of 28 rare recordings that provide an alternative perspective to the received notion of Greek folk music as being essentially  cheerful and celebratory in nature, with a primary function to entertain and distract.

The music here is nothing of the sort, often being chaotic, seemingly tuneless and drone-like. This is because many of the villages from which these recordings emanated were some of the most isolated, remote and inhospitable areas of Greece and their communities had limited contact with the more Westernised parts of the country. Rather, the most predominant cultural and musical influences in these recordings are from further east and well away from Europe. Consequently both the rhythms and instrumentation employed are invariably exotic, mostly alien to these ears and thoroughly beguiling. There is hardly a hint of the bouzouki that we tend to think of as the primary instrument associated with Greek music - in fact, a good deal of the music presented here is closer to free jazz, albeit played on instruments a world away from the saxophone.

Compiled from rare 78s collected by Grammy-award winning producer, sound engineer, curator and writer, Chris King, the stated purpose of this collection is more than just to present an alternative or additional narrative to the true nature of Greek music. It is to support an argument that this music was integral to the functioning of rural communities from which it emanated, and existed not just as a form of entertainment for the ‘down-time' of its people. The music herein makes a good fist of convincing us of the argument, as does the impressive set of notes and essays within the 28 page booklet.

Not just a massively enjoyable set of barely appreciated musical styles, this is also an essential collection for lovers of traditional folk music from around the world. Get it now and file between your JSP rembetika box sets and Dust-To-Digital and Tompkins Square collections.


Review Date: Febraury 2016

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