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04 April 2006

The Rammstein Phenomenon

The music market in Greece is ever so different

Greece has of course a widely differing music market from most of the rest of Europe in that the local music style is alive and kicking. Turnaround in hard cold Euros is much, much higher for Greek music than what the the anglo-saxon popmaffia makes. There's more money in bouzoukia than in Boomtown Rats. But I'm not talking about this obvious difference here, rather I would like to point out a different thing with pop or rock music here, what I would call "The Rammstein Phenomenon"...


The Rammstein phenomenon. Interesting enough, Rammstein is really big in Greece (this phrase just reminded me of the 80s song "Big in Japan"). It's definitely much bigger here than in Germany. Lots of young people here know Rammstein as the only German band (next to the Scorpions which are probably all but forgotten in Germany). Mention Germany or the German language to males age 18-24 and you are likely getting to hear that they know / hear / like Rammstein.

I once drove back from Larissa with Thanassis (from HelMUG and MacLand magazine) who had only and only Rammstein in the CD player all of the way, asking me for translations of the lyrics. (Translating those lyrics is of course impossible, they are mostly disconnected words and plays-with-words.) Made for an interesting night drive. Not that I mind listening to Rammstein myself when the atmosphere is right.

I could call this the scorpions phenomenon as well, since those hairy guys have still a large fanbase here too. Or, to keep it off the "German special case" path, what about The Cranberries? To me their songs were a faint (but with some of them: nice) memory, but nowhere like the following they have here. Concerts by these people are bound to fill up in Athens, even at times when those bands are low in their pan-European success curves.

The idea for this post came up after reading and commenting on the post from kassandra "just another saturday". Oh yeah, and The Cranberries are right now on the radio. Somebody tries to help me prove my point. Uh, what is my point? I guess it's that the non-Europeanness of Greece differentiates the perception and wishes of young Greeks, as exemplified by their music tastes. See, "Rammstein is pretty big in Greece" sounded much better.

Posted by betabug at 17:17 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
08 May 2006

Loc in on Tone Loc

Hey Wild Thing!

Back when I was living in Athens for the first time, the tracks "Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina" were rocking the air waves. They were the soundtrack of my time there, even though I don't really dig Rap or Hip Hop. Years later I remembered the music and started searching for the album. Couldn't track it down. My record shop special ordered it, but it never arrived. Amazon didn't have it at the time (they have now). Long story short, I found it last Friday, on emusic: Loc-ed After Dark.

Posted by betabug at 10:04 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
21 September 2006

Wednesday Jazz at the Stoa

A swinging evening with Deborah Herbert

Last Wednesday we went with friends to one of a series of Jazz evenings that take place in a "Stoa", an athenian shopping passage. I've been there the week before and noted the bad sound quality. That wasn't much better, but this time we were with good company, enjoyed the party and ourselves. Towards the end we danced and had lots of fun. It wasn't exactly a concert, more like a big party with many unknown people and a life band somewhere.

Despite the lousy sound quality (mainly I guess due to the unfitness of the surroundings for a quality concert), I liked the music by the Doug Sides Trio featuring Deborah Herbert. Especially Miss Herbert was great. Route 66, Summertime, she gave some great, well known Jazz songs. In better surroundings I could comment on her voice. This way I can only praise the swing in her voice, which got us swinging along.

Information about the Wednesday evening concerts can be found in Greek (I had to change the encoding manual to ISO-8859-7) on citylinkjazz.gr. The concerts are free with free drinks, which is quite the deal. Expect lots of people and only standing room.


Posted by betabug at 22:18 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
26 October 2006

I'm Saying Good-Bye to emusic.com

...and thanks for all the great music

Last week I took a step that was in the pipeline for a long time now - I unsubscribed from the emusic.com download music service. I did that despite believing that emusic is the best, correction: the only real download music service. In contrast to many systems that kind of let you "lend" the music while pumping it full of copy protection crap, limiting you by what you can do with the tracks (or even how long you can play them) emusic lets you download real, unencumbered MP3s. They also have a lot of good music (but they don't have mainstream top ten stuff). So why did I leave? A monthly subscription just doesn't fit my listening habits, read on for an explanation...


As far as I know emusic is the cheapest legal downloading service. Their subscription scheme basically lets you decide on a plan that gives you 40, 65, or 90 songs per month for 10$, 15$, 20$ (prices for European customers are higher, due to VAT). That's not much compared to some other download services. Lots of people complain that they can't find their music on emusic, which invariably means they are looking for anything on the charts and pushed out by the big labels who have tube raised those consumers. Not my problem, I discovered good stuff on emusic (check out for example what my friend saad is recommending for your listening pleasure)

I've downloaded from emusic such gems as stuff from: Tone Loc, Philip Glass, Tony Allen and Fela Kuti, Vince Guaraldi, Zeromancer. Stuff I had known before and searched on emusic, and other stuff I discovered by accident. If you like to tune in outside the mainstream, likely you will find good downloads on emusic.

So, why did I leave? Because even with the smallest plan (40 songs per month) I was downloading much more new stuff than I listened to. Many times I had downloads expire at the end of the 30 day period (which is stupidly not tied to the month, so you have to be careful on which exact day it expires). It's not a big loss, but it kills the fun. Worse is that feeling of pressure "I have to download 20 songs in two days now or they will expire". I think that was what gave me the last push in the end. When I took the time and searched, I always found something worthwhile to download, but I wasn't always inclined to search and busy myself with music. But if you're really into music, I can recommend emusic. Myself I will be busy listening to my downloads for a while still.

Posted by betabug at 19:12 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
09 February 2007

Laibach in Concert

Let stone break


Went with Panos to the concert of Laibach at the Fuzz club in Athens. Laibach is a band from Slowenjia, playing dark music in the industrial, electro direction.. Someone on wikipedia described them as Rammstein for grownups.

The current piece is incredibly loud. Almost bearable - I am of course packing earplugs. Apart from that the music is interesting and good.


Posted by betabug at 22:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
12 February 2007

Wish You Were in Athens

Pink Floyd in Zografou

This weekend I've been listening a lot to "Wish you were here" from Pink Floyd. That album I had been listening to as a kid, when I was very, very young, at the very edge of my ability to remember things. Must have swept into my subconscious there, as I seem to know most of the tunes and riffs to a strange level. It's like driving on a road where I had driven many, many times before (but a long time back) - I seem to remember every turn and pothole, but only ever in the last instance or even after the fact. Still I like the record a lot and have been listening to it on the way to work this morning.

Listening to Pink Floyd while walking from Zografou to the bus on Vassilissis Sofias is a strange experience. Spherical guitars as backdrop to the weeks market with the smell of oranges and earth (smells are very intensive right now, because it had rained all yesterday and the night). Walking through traffic jams to "welcome to the machine", right.


Posted by betabug at 09:08 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
20 May 2007

Earth to Gagarin: Mikro

Θυμάμαι τότε που χορεύανε όλοι...

Friday evening I had gone with grand master Libero to see the greek electro band Mikro at the "Gagarin". Good music. What would I do without Panos to come and drag me to those events? Mikro are pretty well known in Greece, with some of their songs being hymns of a generation that has now grown up: Δεν σε φοβάμαι, άσπρη σοκολάτα, many more where I don't remember the names. I do know them from the radio, in an almost subconscious fashion.

Mikro gave this concert to present their new record. Now that's a kind of concert that many bands are really happy to fuck up. They play a few of the old songs, but they really want to play the new stuff. If the new stuff sucks, the concert starts to go downhill. Not so this time: The audience listened in to the new stuff, but the band gave them the good old songs to sing along mixed in with the new stuff. You could feel that the band were at one with the audience, they were feeling good with playing those well known songs, as much as they were rocking with the new stuff.

After the second encore, the band leader came out again and he said that he wanted to play one song again. He turned up the tune again. It was a song from their new album, one that goes "θυμάμαι τότε που χορεύανε όλοι... δεν κοιμότανε ποτέ αυτή η πόλη". When he had played the song the first time around, he had made the audience sing in on a part of the refrain. Now he switched parts around and he had us sing another piece. The funny part is, this song rocks so much, the audience was leaning in so good, that I had assumed this to be one of the old ones.

One downside of this concert: The sound quality was really, really bad. At times we could only hear a hint of the full impact of the songs, there was no depth to the sound. After the concert Panos dropped me at my place, it had started to rain seriously. After all the heat of the last weeks we had the downpour. But my ears were still ringing to the tune... δεν κοιμότανε ποτέ αυτή η πόλη.


Posted by betabug at 15:50 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
19 June 2007

Awaiting Laurie Anderson

Under a pine tree

Lying under a pine tree, looking up at the sky. Hearing fragments of music wavering over from the rehearsal at the ancient theatre Herodion Attikis.

Lauri Anderson is performing tonight. I'll be there, with friends. I'm much too early, came right from the office. Now I have time for a nap in the shade.


Posted by betabug at 18:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
20 June 2007

Laurie Anderson at the Herodion

A great concert, with some stupid distractions

I really enjoyed the concert yesterday evening. Laurie Anderson makes music that left me (and I think most of the audience) in a meditative state of mind. We listened to a lot of the lyrics, had a good chuckle from time to time on some of the sarcasm and politics, even picked up the odd message. Towards the 2nd part of the concert, when the music turned to quieter songs, we would have wished for easier seeting, something to recline and cushion into. 1800 years old marble is a spiritual venue, but it makes for hard benches on your ass (with a thin cushion).


At the start of the show, when Laurie was alone on the stage and had just started off into the first song, there was a guy at the entrance to the upper seating. Since the show had started, the offials denied him and some other people the entrance until the first break (as per the rulez). I should maybe note here that the accoustics of the ancient "music hall" are incredible, anybody speaking out aloud is heard perfectly all over the place. This guy didn't get it. He started to argue aloud, and upon being told to quiet it, he started shouting "I can shout whenever I want to". People around shushed him. He continued.

When the first song faded out and the audience applauded, this guy stormed in, followed by the other waiting people and the officials. The music continued and the guy continued to argue with the officials. At this point someone from the audience shouted aloud: "Shut up!" and then almost all of the audience shouted together: "Shut up!", almost 5000 people together, like one voice. The guy stared, obviously he had believed that everybody should have been on his side. Now someone else shouted "get out!". After that the officials managed to get the guy out and we could continue to enjoy the music.

In our little corner of the theater we had another, smaller incident, about an hour later. Apparently at this evening there was a football match with one of the big teams from Athens. Now there was this guy who suddenly started to ask around if anybody had a radio... wtf? Did he really believe that someone would sit in this exceptional concert and turn up a transistor to "...now Giannopoulos has the ball and passes to his team mate... shoots... GOAAAAL!! ..."? Talk about culture.

On the positive side, I noticed -- again -- that the Herodion is an incredible place. There I was sitting, upright to avoid back pain, listening to exceptional tonal quality in a theater that barely needs speakers, looking at the evening sky turning into a clear night sky, with the new moon and the evening star over the ancient walls. If you ever have a chance to go to a show at the Herodion, go for it! Don't hesitate to take cheap sits on the upper seating, in my experience the view is even more spectacular up there, and the sound is great.

Posted by betabug at 12:36 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
10 November 2007

Leïla Olivesi Quartet at the Institut Français

Flowing...

I was on a jazz blind date yesterday. When my flatmate mentioned going to a jazz concert at the Institut Français, me and Panos didn't ask long and agreed to come for a listen. We didn't know what we would hear. Even when we arrived at the Institut and met some of my flatmates friends, nobody knew who was playing. Man, we were in for a surprise...

We went in to the hall, and it was a big room, almost like a cinema. Wider, but with chairs like in a cinema. It wasn't really what I would want a groovy jazz concert to be in. I mean, no space to move and dance in. We settled down anyway. The place was filling up, a lot of young people too. A guy from the Institut spoke up, telling us how pleased they are about this concert and that there is good jazz all over the place, and there is good french jazz too, so here is some. He was right.

What we heard is the Leila Olivesi Quartet, with a grand piano, an upgright bass, drums, and electrical guitar. I don't know what label or classification is normally applied to their jazz. To me it's a very groovy, cool but dreamy sound. The electrical guitar reminded me a lot of some Pat Metheny tunes, but the overall sound was wider than that.

I appreciated the comfy seat, leaned back and enjoyed the tunes. It's music to dream away, let the thoughts wander and the alpha waves flow your brain. Just enough tension and spikes of action to keep you awake. There was this moment when every desire to go on in time stopped, I just wanted to let this moment hang around.

The concert did end at some point. No idea how long we listened. We went out and moved from Kolonaki to Exarheia, were we had dinner at the "Fasoli".


Posted by betabug at 20:25 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
12 November 2007

Jazz Drawing

Another lazy sketch
Bass and Drums from Leila Olivesi Quartet at the Institut Francais

In the midst of Friday's jazz concert at the Institut Français (listening to the Leïla Olivesi Quartet, see last post) I took out my notebook and started to draw the bass player. It was almost too dark to see what I was doing. My fingers did not seem to have had a problem, they were guided by the music.

When I was "done" with drawing the bassist, I was happy to draw a rough outline of the drummer too. I think the sketch got even more wild there. I tried to get the drummer's grin in, but I don't think I succeeded. In the end (when the light came back on), the drawing looked acceptable to me. It's not my usual style at all, but I like it anyway :-)

Some of the bassist's posture is reflected in the drawing, which brings back the evening in my mind, and that's all it takes. As usual, click on the thumb for a bigger view.


Posted by betabug at 09:55 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
17 November 2007

The Duets - Brubeck and Desmond

Music at the Airport

So I'm early for my flight to wintery Munich today, wandering around the airport here. Boredom has me and I flip through the CD racks at the airport CD store. My eyes fall on a CD labelled "1975: The Duets - Brubeck & Desmond". It's about 7 Euro only (!) so I grab it. Digitizing it while waiting for my boarding to start... who needs plastic coasters anyway. Though the printed inlet is nice. And the music?

The music is just wonderful. Relaxed and dreamy, Paul Desmond and Dave Brubeck get along very well. I'm a longtime Brubeck fan, even seen the man play life with his band, which is an experience. Desmond describes these duets in the inlet text as

"...kind of mind-blowing. With just the two of us playing, an almost eerie feeling of freedom occured, which seldom happens when there are other instruments to be considered."

This feeling certainly is there to listen to in the recording. It's a record to play when you want to relax and flow away. I'm not yet at the point where I can distinguish the songs really, except maybe for "Koto Song" (which I also have on "Late Night Brubeck") and "You Go To My Head", which was recorded life on the cruise ship where the duet idea was born.


Posted by betabug at 14:56 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
20 November 2007

Blues-Jazz-Latin-Jam-Session

Jazz-Bar Vogler in Munich

Going out on Monday evening in Munich? You like good life jazz, but you are on a budget? I can recommend the Jazz-Bar Vogler near the Reichenbachplatz. We went there yesterday evening, payed just 3 Euro entrance fee, moderate prices for our drinks (and they have food till very late too). There's a trio of piano, upright bass, drums playing. Later some other singers, trombone, saxophone players joined in. The place is relaxed, so you can enjoy the music but also chat and just have fun.

I liked the music. At the start they seemed mostly to be jamming along (or maybe I just didn't recognize any of the pieces). Later I recognized some of the songs with the other musicians. I like the drum solo in one of the pieces in the first part a lot. It wasn't just rhythm and "banging on drums", there was something melodic to it. Even though the program said 'Blues-Jazz-Latin", we got only the Jazz part. We left early at 11, so maybe Latin and Blues came on later.


Posted by betabug at 15:08 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
19 January 2008

Locomondo - Greek Reggae

Nuclear Fusion at the Kyttaro

When Panos' SMS reached my phone, I was deep into messing up some data structures in python, my ears plugged with some soothing tunes. Only a few hours later did I come around to look at the phone and notice the invitiation for a concert of "Locomondo plays at the Kyttaro, you're in?" To be honest, I had to look up Locomondo, but once I did, I remembered some posters I had seen and a song that I had heard. So what kind of band is Locomondo? It's a Greek reggae band. What's more, they don't stop at giving Jamaican music a tribute, they fuse with some good Greek influences. This could all be very cheesy, but in fact it r0xx!


Locomondo on stage at the Kyttaro, January 17th, 2008

After some attempt to inform everyone and the world about this concert, it started to become clear that it was me, my flatmates and Panos for company. Not that it mattered, because we're one hell of a gang. The Kyttaro is located in my old neighborhood, near Viktoria Square. We arrived there a quarter of an hour late, which means way too early. We were almost the first ones to enter the venue. We stood around and commented on the crowd. The place finally filled up, but not to the point where it was full. That was something that turned out useful later on.

When the band started to play, they immediately moved into a groovie rhythm. My legs started to move under me, my body started to swing. They were playing good and I couldn't stop dancing. I grooved through most of the concerts, and in the faster pieces, me and my friends were dancing something like the pogo and crash into each other. Further in front of the stage, there was a large group of people doing the same, and this was the point where it came in handy that the place wasn't really filled to the brim, they had some room to move.

Apart from the mostly greek lyrics, Locomondo uses also some Greek musical influences. There is one piece based on an old Greek song "Frankosyriani", starting with a bouzouki playing, there were many pieces with greek bagpipes and a cretan style violin (not a lyra though). I've rarely heard musical fusion work out so well.

When the band took a break they sent a lady called Natasha (didn't get the family name) on stage, who sang some songs to an acoustic guitar, she has a good voice. She also sang in some of the later songs, together with the band. The concert ended at about 1:30. I was dog tired, but happy to have been there.

There's a documentary about Locomondo and one of their more known songs is online as a fan movie from another concert (but they didn't play this song in this concert).

Posted by betabug at 19:29 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
09 February 2008

Saint Etienne

pop, in concert


Gargoyle mode here, life from the concert of St. Etienne at the Gagarin in Athens. The place is full, boiling with people who seem to know each song. Unlike me.

As usual Panos has dragged me here. But I'm not complaining, music is cool, as is the crowd.


Posted by betabug at 22:56 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
20 February 2008

Antike Griechische Musik im Benaki

Ein Hauch von Vergangenheit
Skizze vom Konzert antiker griechischer Musik im Benaki

Gestern abend war ich mit Freunden an einem Konzert im Museum Benaki (in der Odos Pireos) an einem Konzert antiker griechischer Musik. Mir gehts im Moment nicht so toll, da muss man auch mal rausgehen und was anderes sehen. Gespielt hat das Athens State Orchestra, kostümiert und mit viel Theatralik.

Die Musik war trotzdem schön. Keine Ahnung, ob das in der Antike wirklich so getönt hat, aber das ist für mich nicht der Punkt, ich habe kein Interesse an Autentizität oder sowas. Einige der Stücke waren verträumt und versponnen, andere wohl mehr aufweckend gedacht.

Am Anfang der Aufführung sprach ein Herr von der Uni von Thessaloniki, von dem die ganze Geschichte mit den antiken Instrumenten wohl ausgegangen ist (Name hab ich leider vergessen). Danach sprach noch Dimitris Themelis, von dem ich über Eleni schon viel gehört habe. Er erzählte, wie und wo die einzelnen Stücke gefunden wurden und welche Schwierigkeiten es gab und gibt um zu versuchen die antike Musik zum Leben zu erwecken.


Posted by betabug at 09:46 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
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