Storm Stereo #36: Greek Remap I

synthetikoi
Συνθετικοί (Synthetics) had tunes and style galore

What’s up my mellakas?

I’m very excited about this week’s show. Like all Storm Stereos, it’s directly connected to what’s happening in my life at the moment, and I’ve had the pleasure of being reintroduced to the past. It’s funny how you can listen to something and it won’t really register, or you’ll forget about it, or it’ll just get lost among the dozens of mentally, digitally and physically created lists of songs. Since I’ve been back in Athens, I’ve been remapping and rediscovering my connection to the city – whether through bands, historical accounts, neighbourhoods, show spaces, and friends old and new. It’s rather endearing when you can return to a place you had once all but written off to find there are actually a myriad ways to experience it, redefine your perception of it and ultimately strengthen your bond.

So when a friend played Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark for me and reminded me of how great they are (and not just for their use of the Mellotron!), it seemed apt to open with them. “Each time I look at you, is like the first time, each time you’re near me, the thrill is new.”

So, we delve into the past (briefly) and listen to Συνθετικοί and Χωρίς Περιδέραιο, two synthwave bands that were part of a larger (post)punk scene that incorporated (killer) synths, the most well-known being ANTI… but also Anypofori, Ausschwitss, Clown, Chapter 24 and more (more on these bands next week!). As with most Greek bands of the time, the music is steeped in melancholy and heart-squeezing melodies and introspective or challenging lyrics to match. On “Είναι Σίγουρο” (“It Is Certain”), Synthetics sing: “In my room, see colourful posters, heroes who fill you with memories, all heroes are fake, this whole world is fake, you feel alone, you are alone.” Pretty existential stuff, not surprising given the climate of the dying 1980s and the disillusionment felt by the leather-jacket-clad youth with the crazy hair. Also how good are the kaleidoscopic vocals at the end of that song?

Then we zoom back to the present and head to Thessaloniki, Greece’s beautiful and vibrant capital of the north. We listen to a new project, Mazoha (Masochist), which totally fucking rocks! Just on the first listen I could hear all these great influences coming through: from Wipers-esque guitars, to raw, ’80s drum machine beats, synths and bass that recall ΟΔΟΣ 55 and sarcastic lyrics (that reminded me a bit of Όρεξη για Τίποτα somehow). I could see it fitting perfectly on a split record with Gay Anniversary from Athens. Also wanna see this live so I can cry/dance along to “Υπεραναισθησία” (“Hyperanesthesia)! “I should not see you again, not think of you again, you give me all the things I don’t need, you bring me panic, so what if we were lovers, so what if I told you I love you?”

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We then skip along to the UK for a minute and listen to Retrofuture, a really great band from London that mixes beautiful vocals with indie guitars and dreamy synths – the vocals on that track for some reason reminded me of Belly and other 4AD bands, which is great ’cause 4AD is one of my favourite labels. Top stuff! In keeping with the synth theme, Fata Morgana also give us one hell of a catchy track with analog gear! Then we head to Turkey and listen to She Past Away, a band that’s been around for a few years now and that deserve your attention for their mix of moody post-punk and synth/coldwave. Likewise, Night Thoughts from Cardiff (feat. members of Chain of Flowers), and Cold i from Athens (feat. members of Valpourgia Nychta and Unfit Earth – the Volos band, not the metal band) and Chain Cult from Athens (feat. members of Archi tou Telous, Lifewreck, Dirty Wombs, on tour with Pol Pot whom we also listen to) will sit well with fans of dark, guitar-driven, bass-heavy post-punk (love the chorus vocals on every one of these songs!)

Also on this show we check out what’s happening on the hardcore front, starting with Asid from Sheffield, one of the city’s finest new bands, of which it has many! Sheffield also has a wicked show space that is under threat, so if you can, why not donate to help them keep the punk alive?

We continue with a web of punks making up a bunch of really great Athens bands. Let’s see, there’s Antimob, who have raging new material after a long time (damn you Panos, your solos are fire!), this time in the form of a split 7″ with brotherly-band Χωρίς Οίκτο (Horis Ikto) (their guitarist also plays bass in Antimob, the drummer also sings and drums in Paroxysmos, the bassist plays guitar in Sarabante, and the singer also plays in Cut Off), then there’s Μόλυσμα (Molisma) (featuring members of Sarabante and the Vagabonds 77, they’ll be playing with Arms Race here in Athens in February) and Παροξυσμός (Paroxysmos), who, in my humble opinion, have all the best elements of what Greek punk and hardcore means to me, bringing to mind classic GRHC bands like Antidrasi and Forgotten Prophesy, with top-notch vocals and grazing guitars. The singer/drummer is one to keep an eye on, as his playing is matched by his excellent influences and deep knowledge of punk, hardcore and metal music. Great stuff!

And, even though technically not based in Greece though informed by their Greek and New York punk and hardcore heritages, we also listen to Mati, from Queens, NYC. Mati along with Efialtis from London are the only two bands I know of that exist outside Greece who both have (sick!) vocals in Greek. Perhaps the most famous Greek diaspora punk band is Free Yourself, who started playing in 1992 in Dusseldorf, Germany, but after that my radar goes blank. If you know of any other Greek diaspora punk bands I’m not aware of, please do get in touch!

Until next time, don’t let the winter blues get you down! Next week we have Part 2 of the Greek special, with more post-punk, new wave, synthpop and more! Stray tuned, this Wednesday 10-11pm on intersonik.net.

With love from outer space,

—Οβσέσσιονιστ

 

Storm Stereo #36 tracklist

ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK – The More I See You
ΣΥΝΘΕΤΙΚΟΙ / SYNTHETICS – Είναι Σίγουρο / It Is Certain
ΧΩΡΙΣ ΠΕΡΙΔΕΡΑΙΟ / HORIS PERIDEREO – 48 Σιωπές / 48 Silences
MAZOHA – Υπεραναισθησία / Hyperanesthetized
RETROFUTURE – Cult of the Sun
FATA MORGANA – Historias del Oriente
SHE PAST AWAY – Kasvetli Kutlama
NIGHT THOUGHTS – Owl in Daylight
COLD I – Flower Garden
CHAIN CULT – Empty Hearts
POL POT – We Need Lasers
SKELETAL FAMILY – Promised Land
ASID – Bastards
MOLISMA – Μάτια Γεμάτα Τρόμο / Eyes Full of Terror
MATI – Αυτοκτονία / Suicide
ΧΩΡΙΣ ΟΙΚΥΟ / HORIS IKTO – Τέλος / End
ANTIMOB – Με το Κεφάλι Κάτω / With Your Head Down
PAROXYSMOS – Μολυσμένα Ένστικτα / Infected Instincts

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