Storm Stereo #38: My Life is Vibration

halim el-dabh_1Happy March my loves!

We’re back with another episode of your favourite autobiographical radio show. A typical mixed bag for you this time, half-inspired by Halim el-Dabh‘s birthday and half-inspired by a Nikola Tesla quote. El-Dabh was an Egyptian-American composer, musician, teacher and ethnomusicologist whom I recently discovered, and have been in awe of his work ever since. A pioneer of tape music and early musique concrete, he very correctly realized that life is vibration, and this powerful notion—whether pertaining to life or music—really struck a chord in me (vibration pun intended). When I saw we share a birthday (he would have been 97 this Sunday, March 4), I realized I just had to pay my respects on this show.

We also get introduced to the musical mind of Charles Cohen and his project with Jeff Cain, the Ghostwriters. Cohen passed away last year and I have found his (limited recorded) output to be very moving. He didn’t really believe in recording and his music was almost all improvisational, using the incredible, rare Buchla analog synthesizer – an instrument we’ve heard on this show before played by Suzanne Ciani, among others, and which we’ll be exploring further one day.

Also new on this show is Ghédalia Tazartès, a cult French artist whose music can be as difficult as it is beautiful, and Dorothy Carter, an American musician who experimented with a number of incredible instruments, such as the hammered dulcimer, zither, psaltery, and hurdy-gurdy. Do you know any of those instruments? No, me neither, that’s why I was so intrigued! We’ll be hosting an Unusual and Rare Instruments Special in the future, so stray tuned.

If you’ve heard this show before, you know I love the eastern sound and how it differs to the western scale of music, so we travel to Lebanon and Turkey in the ’70s and ’80s, with music from Elias Rahbani, Arif Sağ , and Hülya Süer. Both these countries had fascinating musical output, be it folk, pop, psych rock, jazz, experimental classical and everything in between.

We detour via Mali and hear the duet Amadou et Mariam and their endearing track “Je Pense a Toi,” which beautifully mixes traditional musical elements with the romanticism of the French language, and listen to a manifesto of sorts (“Against”) by poet Dinos Christianopoulos, put to music by Pleasure Constitution (Σύνταγμα της Ηδονής) from Greece. We stay in Turkey for a few final minutes, by way of Romanian duo Khidja and their track “Drums of Taksim.” I may have been wrong when I said the spoken word used on this track comes from a lecture. Irrelevant of the source, however, the words are so powerful and intense, I hope it will impact you the way it impacted me.

We close it off with Burqa Boyz, about whom I could find almost zero information but who have a couple really good tapes you can hear online.

Until next week, I’ll be celebrating another year under the sun. “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” —Nikola Tesla

With love from outer space

—Obsessionist

 

SS_38 TRACKLIST

HALIM EL-DABH – My Life is Vibration
HALIM EL-DABH – Element, Being and Primeval
THE GHOSTWRITERS – Boticelli Rewind
DOROTHY CARTER – Autumn Song
ELIAS RAHBANI – I Think of You
ARIF SAG – Şu Samsunun Evleri
HÜLYA SÜER – Şeker Oğlan
GHÉDALIA TAZARTÈS – Yama Yama
AMADOU ET MARIAM – Je Pense a Toi
TO SYNDAGMA TIS IDONIS (PLEASURE CONSTITUTION) – Enandion (Against)
KHIDJA – Drums of Taksim
BURQUA BOYZ – Chunk Up the Duce (CC remix)

 

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Storm Stereo #37: Greek Remap II

ausschwitssHere it is my freaks!

Part II of the Greek Special, featuring post-punk, synth pop, new wave from the ’80s and ’90s, plus a couple newer tracks. Sorry for the lack of written info on this one, things have been extra busy. I’ll get back to add some thoughts to this when I have some time. Thanks for listening and thanks to M. for reminding me of how great some of these punks bands were!

If all goes well, we’re planning on recording a special series of shows, centred around the book The Rock Diaries (Τα Ροκ Ημερολόγια) by Yiorgos Tourkovasilis, originally published in 1986 and repressed in 2016. Our plan is to narrate the book—which is a vibrant, colourful verbal history of youth and music subcultures in Greece during the ’70s and ’80s—to discuss a couple of the larger issues covered (μπίρι-μπίρι), and of course to play some Greek punk music for you!

Stray tuned on that one, though it will all be in Greek. (Translation ideas already spring to mind of course—perhaps next year!)

Enjoy last week’s show. Until  next time, stay humble, try and do something you enjoy every day, and make those goodbye kisses count. You never know when you’re gonna get hit by a bus…

With love from outer space,

—Obsessionist

SS_37 TRACKLIST

ARNAKIA – Diver of the Sky
AT LAST – Nothingness
RODONDO ROCKS – Listen to the Wind Blow
TO SYDAGMA TIS IDONIS – You Came When I…
CLOWN – White Cells
PETUNIA PIG – A Dream So Grey
THE ANTI-TROPPAU COUNCIL – Insanity
CAPTAIN NEFOS – Crystal Palace
AUSSCHWITSS – Threat
ANYPOFORI – 8 Fores (8 Times)
IN TRANCE 95 – Presidente
KYOTO – Silver to Silk
X-BEAT – One With the Night
SIGMAY FAY – Tonight
IHORYPANSI – Only for You
LOST BODIES – Orange Tree

 

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

Storm Stereo #30: Greek Noise Special

kavvadiasHello my little freaks!

We have a very special show for you this time, paying tribute to contemporary Greek noise musicians and sound artists. This show was curated and put together by Andreas Kavvadias, and all acts featured are currently active in the underground electronics scene, which seems to be going nothing but strong. You’ll discover a variation of sounds, noise and melody on this show; from claustrophobic harsh noise and meditative drone to modular electronics, analogue beats and breaks, spacey ambience, and avant-garde experimentation. Three of the acts included (AZA, d E, PS Stamps Back) will be playing a live show tomorrow in Athens, and you can find more info here.

https://www.mixcloud.com/widget/iframe/?feed=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mixcloud.com%2Fnegativecstasy%2F%25CF%2583torm_%25CF%2583tereo_30-greek-noise-special%2F&hide_cover=1

The last couple years have seen many scenes and sounds resurface – history repeats itself after all – whether for the first time or as a second or third wave of regeneration, not least among them beatdown US hardcore, noise as art, experimental trap and witch house, African psychedelia, Arabic pop, Eastern EDM, early UK house, and minimal techno to name but a few. For me what was interesting was the rise of electronic music among punks. Sure, a lot of us have been listening to electronic music in all its forms since forever, but that wasn’t the case for everybody.

Whereas in the past, “shitty dance music” or “Eurodisco” was laughed at (two unfair blanket terms often used by punks I know to describe electronic music, often played after punk shows at European gigs), things have changed. Electronic music, be it funky disco house or heavy industrial noise, is increasingly moving from bedroom projects and house party mixtapes to indie radio shows and underground basement shows, with electronic projects playing alongside punk bands, headlining festivals and releasing material on typically punk-leaning labels.

Fine examples I witnessed recently are the B-side of Limp Wrist’s most recent record Facades, Pharmakon headlining (and perhaps polarizing) a punk fest, more and more punks getting into and playing techno, exploration and reissues of early electronic acts like Delia Derbyshire. I will attempt a future show with electronic (side)projects done by punks, so stray tuned if that’s your jam, and if you’re a closeted punk electronic music producer (whether you use analog or digital means) send me your projects  – I wanna hear them.

This is not to say punks weren’t listening (many of us have been) just that we weren’t necessarily congregating around or collaborating with our respective electronic music scenes the way we have done with punk. Things have changed and personally I couldn’t be happier. Surely the mix of punk and electronic music has been happening since the inception of both those sounds, and I find this crossover of ideologies, practices and ideas can only lead to better things.

Collective and personal electronic projects currently exist across most punk scenes around the globe – whether mixed with rap, techno, funk, disco, hip-hop, ambient, noise, folk, field recordings or anything in between. What was often (narrowly) misunderstood by a lot of punks to be a one-dimensional genre made of inorganic 0s and 1s (“digital computer music”) created by obnoxious, trendy DJs lusting after mainstream success, has been acknowledged as a diverse, driving and longstanding force of music history worldwide. And in part I think that’s because, much like punk, a lot of these underground electronic scenes are and have been independent and working on their own terms. When talking about techno for example, what was often thought of by many as a wannabe-mainstream genre made to satisfy drug-fueled party people with little taste for quality has in fact proven time and time again that it is an extremely musically varied scene with a rich history and astonishing output across nations, decades, formats, and subgenres.

Punk often closes itself off from other scenes, assuming it is the only one to function in an underground, anti-conformist and DIY manner, but that has never been true. Since the beginning, the global underground electronic scene (like rebetika, or early hip-hop and disco culture), has supported and amplified voices often silenced or marginalized, and operated outside the mainstream, creating communities of solidarity and havens of creativity. And while capitalism encourages the popularization and ‘legitimization’ of sub- and countercultures, that lead to their appropriation and ultimate erasure or normalization and control (the punk MET Gala a couple years ago was one inescapable example of the mainstream co-opting and capitalizing upon something it once opposed) I believe that this crossover, the exchange of information, experiences and knowledge ultimately creates and uncovers opportunities which might have previously been overlooked. Free the beat, “amplify each other.”

We live in dark times, but I read recently that perhaps this is not the dark of the tomb, but the dark of the womb. Much could be said (and better) about the history and impact (and future) of electronic music. For now I’m just happy I get to share some of it with you, and be part of a growing wave of interdisciplinary, global musical thought.

Until next time, do what you do with love and believe in yourself. With love from outer space,

—Obsessionist

SS_30 SETLIST

GRIM MACHINE – Untitled 12, from Heterodoxa (E.D.A. / E.C.T, 2017)
LAST DAN’S MOTE – Spoiled Penny’s Dream, from VA – Συνθετικό Παράγωγο, (E.D.A., 2015)
EMDY – Os2 da kos 4 Synchropainted Penalties, from Synchresis (self-released, 2012)
FUN WITH NUNS – Vinyl Side B Part 1, from Fun With Nuns (Wax / More Mars, 2012)
POPI’S ORCHESTRA – Once Again, the Dream in the Garden, from Popi’s Orchestra (B-Otherside, 2015)
THE ZYKLONS – Doxology I, from (Still) Unknown Traditional Music (self-released, 2017)
LOVE EXOTICS – Love Suite (Part 1), from Mediterrana 3 – Exotic Sounds From Athens (Lampros Tsamis Archives / Kworks, 2017)
CHRISTOS CHONDROPOULOS – Sequence of Three Stars, from Fingerpainting (self-released, 2013)
ADAM_IS – Mars Attacks (excerpt), from Mars Attacks (self-released, 2014)
KOSTADIS – Part 1, from Slumber (self-released, 2017)
COEL – Athens Fahrenheit 110 (unreleased)
DROG_A_TEK – I Sea Things, from Homeland (Inner Ear, 2010)
ΦEY – Ηχω 1 (excerpt) (unreleased)
ILIOS – Gis Mi Trovita Vian Lumon, from El Amor Es Mi Motor (Αntifrost, 2009)
PS STAMPS BACK – Περτούλι – Νεραϊδοχώρι, from Μουσική Για Διάσχιση Δασών (1000+1 Tilt, 2014)
AGGELIKI K. – ΕΛΔΧ (excerpt) (unreleased)
d E – Overload (unreleased)
AΖΑ – The Bitt (excerpt) (unreleased)
GRIM MACHINE – Exotera Schemata, from Heterodoxa (E.D.A. / E.C.T, 2017)
Z64 – B5, from Xtematic/Z64 split (E.D.A., 2016)
MEZZO COPRANO – The Four Of Us Are Dying (Retreat) (unreleased)
PANDELIS PANDELOPOULOS – V – Trio (unreleased)
LOST BODIES – Έτσι Μίλησε Ο Ζαρατούστρα, from Υποτροπή (Lazy Dog / Res Integra, 2002)