Storm Stereo #27

light stairsWhat’s new my darlings?

Another month gone by, another show comes to be. I feel like I’ve been living on double time lately, burning the candle at both ends cramming a weekend’s worth of work and play into each of my days and nights. They say if an object accelerates enough it eventually disappears completely and I can tell you the ride is exhilarating.

I’ve managed to get a lot done this month and have a couple cool things waiting in the wings. To start, this here show is also going to be airing on Intersonik Radio, straight outta Athens, starting December. You’ll be able to catch me break the silence every Wednesday 22:00-00:00 EET. I’ve already got an excellent From the Silk Road and Beyond set, curated by my old friend and world music scavenger Yiannis Panoutsos, an expressive musician and artist in his own right (he’s got an exhibition coming in 2018, more on that at a later date), I’ve got a soundtrack special half-collected, and I’ll finally get back into the pit with some new and old punk sets and specials I’ve been rounding up, plus your usual autobiographical sonic narratives. Expect more updates on all of that soon…ish.

What better way to jump-start my Second Coming than with Static Shock Weekend 2017? I’ll be in London for a week, so hit me up! I was going to do a SS Weekend special like last year, but Paco and Tom know how to get shit done and run a fest, so they already put together a wicked show.

As usual I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s get to the music. This show, we start off with an amazing track a friend sent me, come across by chance at a Hugo Boss fashion show! Not unlike the fashion world to tailor quality soundtracks for their shows and ads (from hip Victoria Secret all-star performances to Gucci coating its 2016 Cruise campaign in vintage Alive She Died) but ‘Confirm Humanity’ truly blew my mind. We follow it up with a trip to Algeria and the smooth, moving tunes of Lili Boniche.  From Algeria we move to Nigeria, courtesy of Steve Monite who came out of the blue for me – a romantic Afro boogie that has taken the music world by storm, thanks to this year’s reissue by Presch Media GmbH, who seem to have put out a tasty, eclectic selection of wax.

We also have two tracks off a superb, mixtape-like compilation featuring Australian underground and experimental folk artists, including Joyce Heath’s breathtaking chronicle of lost chances and bad timing, ‘Dream of It’ – a track so painfully honest and relatable it created a lump in my throat instantly upon first listening. On the same comp is Gary Davenport’s ‘Sarra’ – which was the accidental background soundtrack to a short video a friend sent me a year or so ago. For months the catchy lyrics played over and over in my head  – all 20 seconds I had access to. I was hooked, it was beautiful and haunting. I knew the song was supposed to be off a comp from Australia, but that’s about all I knew. I figured it would be from some obscure, impossible-to-find tape comp. After weeks of asking, searching, googling, singing to friends in case it rang a bell, I gave up. Months later I’m in a record store in Athens checking out Skygirl (I didn’t recognize a single artist, naturally it piqued my interest) and lo and behold, there it was.

Just today I found out Boy Harsher are coming to Athens, a band I am most intrigued by; a band that sounds like they time-traveled from the ’80 while still sounding very, very current. Also I swear the last couple notes from ‘Underwater’ are a Twin Peaks homage, hence the May Roosevelt theremin prelude to their track. Boy Harsher’s latest EP, Country Girl, is out now on Ascetic House Records – a label so unique and creative in everything it does, I’m blown away by their output every time, from the harsh noise to the ambient drone. An Ascetic House mini-special is already in the works, most probably to be accompanied by similar mini-specials to labels I think are doing a great job of documenting the present with their releases and aesthetic – part of a connected, global force of creatives who are pushing the experimental envelope across disciplines, from graphic design and audiovisual art to music installations and experimental performances. What a time to be alive.

We close it all off with the most spine-chilling thing I heard this month – Ataque de Caspar, an underground (cult?) band from Madrid that so fantastically encompass some of my favourite elements of Spain’s prolific and uniquely distinct experimental / post-punk scene in the 1980s: noisy and warm, direct and diverse, even delicate, rough around the edges but solid at the core, unafraid of honesty in both lyrics and expression. This sound, this aesthetic and approach to music, seems to seep through and across regional genres, locations and decades and it’s utterly enchanting, whether that involves twee noisepop acts or raw punk bands.

It looks like it’s going to be a busy winter. I’ve finally started doing something with the many field recordings I’ve accumulated over the years, so hopefully something concrète will come of that in the coming months. I’m also excited to be working with Andreas (Odos 55, dE – who has a new release out today) on a more electronic/sound architecture project, and to be collaborating with Víctor (Ciudad Lineal, Acción Diplomática) on an audiovisual little something. Also plan on DJing a couple spots around Athens, so come say hello if you see me.

Off to prep my set for this coming Friday, where I’ll be spinning wax (16:30 – 18:00) at Homcore Records in Sydagma. Drop by if you’re about town.

Practicing patience and compassion until next time.

With love from the omniverse

—Obsessionist

 

SS27 TRACKLIST

HENRIK SHCWARZ – Confirm Humanity
LILI BONICHE – Ana Fil Houb
RAY LYNCH – The Oh of Pleasure
THE ROBER WEBB SOUND – Moon Bird
STEVE MONITE – Only You
EDDIE KENDRICKS – If You Let Me
LOLLIPOPS – Naked When You Come
JOYCE HEATH – Dream of It
THE GAYLADS – This Time I Won’t Hurt You
PATSY CLINE – I Fall to Pieces
GARY DAVENPORT – Sarra
I, LUDICROUS – A Pop Fan’s Dream
YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS – Looking for Mr. Right
MAY ROOSEVELT – Fallin
BOY HARSHER – Underwater
DECIMA VICTIMA – Tan Iejos
ATAQUE DE CASPA – Viaje a Egipto

 

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Storm Stereo #25: Summertime Blues

20751601_1295143437262685_1227175962_nHello loves,

We’re back on the soul train, destination Lonesome Town, this time to dig up some tracks from summers past, as well as some jams I discovered recently and have been playing on repeat.

This show features among others: a marimba version of Aretha’s morning classic (seeing as the marimba has been my most recent obsession in terms of instruments); some inimitable sounds by the great Mulatu Astatke, a surprise, disco-tinged soul gem by Hot Chocolate; the dazzling and soulful Jackie Shane, an American-Canadian transgender soul and rhythm and blues singer from the ’60s who is being given the much-appreciated vinyl treatment; the empowering Cuban temptress La Lupe, and Greek new wave artist Katy Homata (Καίτη Χωματά).

We also have the original superior versions of two tracks whose histories have haunted me for years: ‘Fever’ – written by Little Willie John but made grossly popular by Peggy Lee – and ‘I’ll Take Care of You’ – written by Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and sung by Etta James, Gil Scott-Heron, Mark Lanegan, Beth Hart, and Drake and Rihanna among many others. Also, tracks by two singer-songwriters who sadly left us recently: the iconic though I suspect underrated Greek folk and new wave musician Arleta / Αρλέτα, with ‘Once, I Remember’ – a track whose composition, vocals and lyrics are on a par with those by world-class folk singers of the ’60s – and quintessentially American country musician Glen Campbell, here doing a moving rendition of Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying,’ joined on vocals for this by, among others, Willie Nelson.

Arleta-1
Arleta in the window of the Tavania boîte in Plaka, Athens, 1971

Mixed in we also have some shoegaze, indie and folk, and close it off with old flames the Magnetic Fields and Camera Obscura, and three queens of smooth, Bat for Lashes, Lana del Rey, and Sade.

Until next time, do what makes you happy.

With love from outer space,

—Obsessionist

TRACKLIST

JULIUS WECHTER AND THE BAJA MARIMBA BAND – I Say A Little Prayer
AIR – Playground Love (Vibraphone Version)
MULATU ASTATKE – Tezeta (Nostalgia)
HOT CHOCOLATE – Put Your Love In Me
LA LUPE – La Gran Tirana
PATTI DREW – Tell Him
LITTLE WILLIE JOHN – Fever
BOBBY BLAND – I’ll Take Care of You
JACKIE SHANE – Don’t Play That Song
JOHNNY ACE – Pledging My Love
GLEN CAMPBELL (RIP) – Crying (Roy Orbison cover)
NAT KING COLE – Nature Boy
ARLETA (RIP) – Mia Fora Thymame (Once, I Remember)
ROBBIE BASHO – Blue Crystal Fire
KATY HOMATA – Mia Agapi Gia To Kalokeri (A Love for the Summer)
CONNIE FRANCIS – Siboney (2046 OST version)
KOOP – Koop Island Blues (Hird’s Off the Wall dub remix)
dEUS – Nothing Really Ends
TIM BUCKLEY – Once I Was
THE MAGNETIC FIELDS – I Don’t Wanna Get Over You
CAMERA OBSCURA – Forests & Sands
STILL CORNERS – Endless Summer
BAT FOR LASHES – Daniel
LANA DEL REY – West Coast
SADE – No Ordinary Love

 

Storm Stereo #23: Heatwave

vinyl-medicine-456x500Hello my beachside loves

I hope you are enjoying your summer. I have been working seven days a week pretty much, but sometimes I put my workaholic distractions aside and force myself go to the river and begrudgingly engage with the rest of society over a pint. Admittedly, Prague does have music and beer almost everywhere and, while neither are always my cup of tea, every once in a while I come across some darn good music – electronic mainly, but more on that at a future date. This episide we go back to the ’50s and ’60s with some soul, lover’s rock, reggae,and doo wop tunes.

Included is a track I came across a couple weeks ago, thanks to a riverside DJ who was spinning soul and dancehall 45s, and who spun the Katalyst song you’ll hear in this set – a nice little discovery that perfectly reflects my current mood. I’ve always loved the soulful sounds from the past, and my arrhythmic little heart goes back to them very often.

Ideal tracks to play to your crush’s answering machine, or when you’re making hungover Bloody Marys on a rainy Sunday morning, or when you’re smoking weed outside the fifth floor window hating tourists and wishing you were somewhere else. Until next time, stay posi, stay strong, wear sunscreen.

With love from the omniverse, where I’m jamming this all-time classic and lifelong favourite

—Obsessionist

TRACKLIST

BARRY BRIGGS – Work All Day
KATALYST feat. STEPHANIE MCKAY – Day Into Night
ALTON ELLIS – I’m Still in Love With You Girl
MIGHTY VIKINGS – Love Me Forever
BARRY BRIGGS – Wide Awake in a Dream
OWEN GRAY – Give Me a Little Sign
GAY POPPERS – I Want to Know
LIL BOB AND THE LOLLIPOPS – Nobody But You
WENDY RENE – Give You What I Got
BARBARA DANE – I’m On My Way
LEE MOSES – Bad Girl
BARBARA LYNN – You’ll Lose A Good Thing
THE WHISPERS – As I Sit Here
DAN JULIAN AND THE LARKS – I Want You Back
SUNNY AND THE SUNLINERS – Talk to Me
THE JACKS – Why Won’t You Write Me?
LEE ANDREWS AND THE HEARTS – Long Lonely Nights
THE SCHOOLBOYS – Please Say You Want Me
THE CHOIR – It’s Cold Outside
ZORBA AND THE GREEKS – One and Only Girl
DUSTY SPRINGFIELD – I Only Want to Be With You

Storm Stereo #6 – Greek Folk Special

rebetiko-trio-dimitris-semsis-agapios-tomboulis-roza-eskenazi.jpg
The Smyrna Trio, featuring Roza Eskenazi

Hello my loves!

June is already here, the heat is setting in in Athens and I have so many tracks to share, I’ve got three shows waiting in the wings for you all. On this rather special-edition show we warm up with some early punk, psych rock and garage from the US, UK and Australia, we have some ’60s soul for those damn crush mixtapes, and we take a trip back to the 1920s and ’30s and explore the Greek blues, the Rebetika: heartache, drugs and outlaw life from the underground hash dens of Greece, Turkey and the US, as well as some other folk expressions from the regions of Epirus and Crete. Tracklist at the end. Download it here. (Let me know if you have trouble accessing the files, I will send them to you directly!)

Thanks to friends visiting from abroad, I went on a week-long roadtrip around the Peloponnese, and have also been walking around downtown Athens quite a bit, making some new memories in a city I left disdainfully hating. I felt a bit like a tourist guide (“Lydia’s Lonely Planet Guides” coming soon) pointing out sites and areas that were significant to the modern history of the country, which has included bloody civil wars, flooring fascism, population exchange, famine, genocide, military juntas, communist exile, student insurrections and the geographic and emotional uprooting of millions. And that’s just the first chunk of the 20th century.

Growing up only half-Greek in Athens—and in constant debate with myself about what parts and how much of my Greek identity I was supposed to embrace or reject—meant that for the better part of my childhood and teenage years I just ignorantly scoffed a lot of the things that were considered “traditional.” [My adolescent disinterest in the notion of “Greek rock” (whose bad renditions have plagued the Greek music landscape for decades) was also the reason why it took me longer than most Greek teen underground dwellers to discover and appreciate Greek punk (which claims a vivid and unique early history, in part thanks to the distinct sound of the Greek language).] After living in the US for almost four years and missing some aspects of Greek culture more than I thought I would, I warmed up to some of the sounds of my once-home, especially the rebétika, and would play them for hours on days when I felt homesick. After all, I wasn’t the first person to leave Greece for a land a few thousand miles away.

Rebétika can be best described as the Blues of the Greeks. In style it was an underground type of folk music, with varying sub-styles and also styles of dance to accompany it, and it was played by rebetes and rebetisses, who usually lived on the margins of society. However, in spirit it was so much more. It was in essence deeply personal protest music against the status quo and its allied bullies, against the prohibitions on personal freedom and expression. Rebétika became popular in the 1920s and ’30s, were banned in 1936 by order of the dictator Ioannis Metaxas (the apagorevména hasiklídika have reached cult notoriety), and then saw a revival and gained more popular acceptance during the German occupation of WWII, and then again during the Greek military junta (1967-73). The music is heavy on bouzouki, baglama and guitar, violin, cimbalom, lyre, clarinet and (my favourite) kanonaki, but also finger-cymbals, laouto and mandolin, among other instruments. The lyrics can get dark and heavy, as they usually describe the woes and worries of the poor, wretched songwriters. And while the rebétika captured a spirit of freedom and resistance that came about as the result of certain conditions and events of that time, the deeper emotions rebétika express are relateable and timeless, the roughened voices and profound, passionate words echoing true to this day.

Continue reading Storm Stereo #6 – Greek Folk Special