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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)
11 April 2008

Pop Eye Playing at Athens Video Art Festival

... and Μικρο too

The ever "au courant" Panos has informed me that this weekend our friend Dimitris will play this Saturday with his band Pop Eye at the Athens Video Art Festival. Recommended, especially if you enjoy fancy pop, electronica, special music. Also playing up are Mikro, which I've already seen (and enjoyed) a couple of times (see: Earth to Gagarin: Mikro) - but they're playing tonight and I already have other plans.

Note to Pop Eye: Sorry, but MySpace pages suck. I have no idea what you have on your page, because I'm trying to close the page as fast as I can once I notice it's a typical MySpace thing.

Posted by betabug at 12:47 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
18 April 2008

Wow... Music with the Trends TA-10.1

Haven't heard that before here
It's really small, the Trends TA-10.1

Today my boss gave me a pair of speakers and an amplifier. For a long time at home I've been listening to music with a pair of cheap "PC speakers". I carried everything home and hooked it up without even taking my shoes off. Wow... music!

I'm really not an audiophile. I've listened to music with the most simple of means, even though I noticed and understood that the quality I get is rubbish (heck, the PC speakers "broke" the sound when just turning them a bit up, and they were the reference implementation of "tinny sound"). But all this time it hadn't much bothered me.

The first time I noticed that there is more "inside" the music I am listening was when I bought a pair of in-ear headphones. Suddenly I noticed stuff in songs that previously just wasn't there.

Now with this setup I get the same, but without cables going to my head. OK, there are currently cables all over my desk (advisory note: photo is purely illustrative, in real life there are all kinds of cables to connect, and no desk is ever that organized... except mine at ork).

The amp is really an exceptional piece of technology. Apparently it's as good as machines that cost 10 times as much. Can't compare there, but it really sounds fantastic. It's also exceptional small, just compare to the teacup in the pic. Inside it's all crazy digital technology... well, actually a single chip plus some audio circuitry. There isn't much for user interface (on/off and volume knob), or input/output (just one input and connections for one pair of speakers). But it does the job... really well.

So here's a big cheer to Γιώργος (George, my audiophile boss)!

Posted by betabug at 19:07 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
29 May 2008

8th European Jazz Festival

28 May - 1 June 2008.. already underway

Another "calendar" type post: The 8th European Jazz Festival is already running here in Athens. Last evening this Sunday, concerts seem to start at 21:00 each night, they're in the "Technopolis" (Gazi). Here's a long description of what's going on at xpatathens-site and a short rundown at monsieurlu.

There's also a free downloadable album from Ειρήσθω εν Παρόδω (Iristho En Parodo), a Greek group performing at the event (thanx to monsieurlu for the tip). Just started to listen to it, and the fusion of Jazz and oriental sounds totally r0xx!

Posted by betabug at 10:22 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
01 June 2008

Greek Oriental Fusion Jazz

A visit to the 8th European Jazz Festival
iristho en parodo on stage at the 8th European Jazz Festival Athens

There probably isn't a Jazz festival anywhere with so many people and so little Jazz. Don't get me wrong, the 8th European Jazz Festival is a wonderful event. I went there yesterday evening with friends and I had a great time and listened to some very good Jazz. But the first thought that formed in my head was: "All those people do not really have any interest in Jazz!"

OK, let's start from the beginning, since maybe you haven't been there and maybe can't be there tonight (this Sunday evening is the last night for this year). The festival takes place at a former gas processing plant (it's called "Gazi"). There are big smokestacks, buildings full of pipes and furnaces, long buildings that could have housed offices, all with lots of space and wide roads amongst them. For many years this place has stood abandoned, until it was transmogrified into a something like a cultural center, which is named "Technopolis". I've seen some photo exhibitions there.

It's a wonderful place for a Jazz festival. When I heard of it, I thought that there might be multiple stages (they sure got the space) and that there would be no problem to get a lot of listeners in. In fact there is only one stage, but lots and lots of people. Some of them sit and stand in front of the stage, listening to the set. Most of them stroll around though, look at the accompanying exhibitions of photos and paintings, or simple sit in the cafés or just plain anywhere and have a cool drink. End of May in Athens is warm enough to sit outside all night. I wasn't feeling cold with only a t-shirt on, but you might want to bring a light sweater.

crowd atmosphere at the 8th European Jazz Festival Athens

Taking our own tour

So when we arrived, we had a look and listen in on the stage, where 12Twelve (from Spain) were playing. We then took a walk around the venue, looked at some air view photos of ancient and modern places around Athens, then at some painting exhibitions (which - sorry for the artists - didn't mean much to me). We then got into the spirit, fetched some drinks and went to sit on some grassy area. There we mostly crowd watched, meanwhile listening to the set from afar. The set moved on from the Spanish guys to the "Ondřej Pivec Organic quartet" from the Czech republic. More good and solid standard jazz. We had had the impression that the sound system was turned up loud enough to prefer to stay farther off, and the jazz sounded just standard enough to me not to draw me to get a closer listen.

Crowd watching was fun though. There were a lot of really young people there, mods and emos, some hard rock types with long hair and Motörhead shirts, chix with small dresses and high heels (please excuse the word, but "chix" just really describes them so well) and no way would anybody believe these people came here for the Jazz. In fact I expected any moment someone to pull out a ghetto blaster and turn on some of the traditional tunes of their very own tribe, ignoring all that strange sound from the main stage. I think they just called (sorry, sms'ed) each other, saying something like "there's something in the Gazi, let's go!" It doesn't really matter what it is, but the beer is cheap and everybody will be there.

The main reason: The oriental angle

Finally the czechs were rolling it up, and after a brief period of canned music (I imagined hectic activity going on on the stage at this point), the tune changed and the Greek group "ειρήσθω εν παρόδω" (iristho en parodo band site) took on. Due to the monsieurlu post I had gone and downloaded their sample album, which I really, really liked, and so they were the main reason I was there. These guys mix Jazz with oriental tunes, often sounding Greek, then again Arabic. I'm heavy into this stuff lately, so I dig it a lot. It was quite swinging and grooving too. We went to the stage to see them up close.

They have a big rhythm section - sometimes it worked out really, really well, as when the two drums etc. guys got their hand drums out and battled it on for a good while. I'm not a huge fan of drum solos (they rarely are really truly spectacular, and mostly fight against boredom fast), but this stuff rocked on and it was a joy to watch the connection between those two guys grooving it out.

Sometimes I would have wished for less drums and a deeper melodic set. The violin player is really, really good, and the sax/flute/clarinet player is good too, but sometimes I had the impression that many songs sounded alike - only in the concert, the downloadable album is divers. But whatever, we were enjoying the show, swinging along all the time. This music was really what I had come for. I can really recommend this band. Go and download their free album now!

Posted by betabug at 13:35 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
03 June 2008

Philip Glass and Leonard Cohen... coming to town

The book of longing and at the Terra Vibe

On the way to work, lazily looking out from the bus, I spotted a poster, something about Leonard Cohen and Philip Glass. Two of my favorite musicians, and as the poster mentioned something about Athens, and as I didn't manage to see much more, I went to search for that event. It turns out there is a concert of Philip Glass' music, based on Leonard Cohen's book "The book of longing". It's Philip Glass performing himself, with his orchestra, but it looks to me like Leonard Cohen won't be there (as he's on his world tour then). Still a great event! (More info at the site of the Badminton Theater or in English here by grhomeboy.)

I've seen Philip Glass perform La belle et la bête in Athens, so I can really recommend this performance.

Leonard Cohen himself will be playing in Greece too: On July 30th at the Terra Vibe (some big concert stage outside of Athens). No link or further info yet, appart from that world tour link given above.

Posted by betabug at 09:39 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
24 October 2008

London After Midnight... in Athens

Shock me real good

Tuesday evening Panos had the idea to go to a concert, despite the general strike on that day. Panos has a bike, so that's how we went. All I knew was that it was a "goth" concert. After having been to the Dark Sun club with him here in Athens, I'm open to that, so on we went to see London After Midnight...

The music was quite good, both from the Greek supporting act (sorry, never heard their name) and from London After Midnight themselves. They had a good sound, melodic, rocking, deep (not talking about the sound quality at the Gagarin here, which was really below average, as usual). Panos described the sound as "more rock than goth actually".

From the first moment of the main act, we were shown that LAM (as the site shortens their name) is a political group. Or rather: Sean Brennan, the man who is really LAM, clearly has a political message. The show started with a video background of Anti-Bush demonstrations. It later went on to show bombings of Vietnam villages from airplanes, burned bodies, Iraqi resistance bombing american occupation forces vehicles, dead people, and various other atrocities. They also showed some anti-american statistics, for example how many countries have the USA bombed since WWII, how many times have they suppressed democracy in other countries. As has to be expected for a goth concert, it was at times quite depressing.

This really goes on to something I'd been thinking about from time to time: That movies, music, books all manipulate your mood. You can use this to your advantage, as when you watch funny movies or lolcats to get better. It can also happen to you that you get a mood downshift by that important, but quite sad movie. Many people think that's not happening to them, they watch a lot of movies and think they're immune. But the manipulation just happens on a deeper level. With London After Midnight it was quite obvious. They set the tone and got you in a certain mood, both sad and thinking about important political things.

Posted by betabug at 09:42 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
12 November 2008

Taxi Driver Thoughts

Where do you want to go?

Was at graffic's place yesterday evening, drove home in a taxi with my flatmate. We had a funny taxy driver, the talkative kind. He told us the story of his lifetime. How he actually isn't a taxi driver, just takes the shift for his friend who is in the hospital, in fact he's a truck driver, delivering flour for bakeries all over Athens. And in a few months he'll get his pension and he'll kiss Athens' ass good bye, go to Crete to live on his pension. ("27 years driving a truck, 8 years driving a coach, it's about enough!") How taxi driver is really the last shit job, it's like a jail (his words, not mine, no offence to any taxi drivers reading this), while in the truck you can get out, talk to people, move, see things.

Then, I'm listening to music now and thinking how it is, that people always try to find the own, current, personal situation in the lyrics. Even if it's just a line or two that reminds me of whatever pit I'm stuck in right now, it touches me. That taxi driver wasn't listening to music, he was the talkative kind.

Posted by betabug at 15:02 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
14 November 2008


Kim Wilde

A while back Panos had talked to me about Cambodia, a song from the 80s by Kim Wilde, which he got stuck in his head and on his music player. I remember hearing that song in a dressing room after a hockey match, the special drive and intensity it had. So I started to listen to it too, again. About a week ago I had a special listening experience with it.

You know, the building I work in is a bit run down. Our offices are fine, but step out and you're in this ugly stairway, with an elevator that was "renovated", but still looks not too trustful. It smells bad, because there are/were some cooked cables in the basement, due to the striptease joint on the ground floor shortening their electricals (yes, there's a striptease joint in the building). For some time there are some bulbs gone out, so I walk down the stairs in partial darkness (no, I'm not complaining, I like that part, besides, we're moving anyway). What does it all have to do with Kim Wilde's Cambodia?

One of those evenings, before I opened the office door to step out into the wild stairway, I put on my music player, hit play and walked, closing the door behind me. One swift motion there. Now Cambodia has a little delay in it, so at first I didn't hear anything, then - just as I started to descend the stairs in the darkness - that swiiiiiiiiiiirl of the song with those eighties electronic beats set in - I was flying through the night.

Posted by betabug at 09:38 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
24 April 2009

Berlin Brides

The surprise of the evening
K44 bar in Gazi Area / Athens

In a classical case of how it usually is, yesterday evening Panos carried me and some friends to a concert. Usually it's him dragging me to some far fetched and weird music events, which - most of the time - turn out quite good. No big names though, no 80 Euros for the cheapest standing place "you can watch the show on the screen" shows - but I digress. Anyway, yesterday the word was that this was going to be some kind of punk-rockish inspired thing. Ever since I started to listen to podcasts my initial sympathy for that kind of music had turned into willingness to actually listen. So there we were.

A hint of Berlin Brides playing in a crowd at the K44 in Athens

But, surprise, surprise, we weren't treated to some kind of punk, but rather to a collection of groups playing at the "Velvet Bus" festival, starting with some group (playing quite good) that I would without hesitation put into the "emo" drawer, over another group that didn't leave that much of an impression. Last act we heard (I was a bit tired and left early) were the Berlin Brides, some girls who make very inspired and electronic music. Totally grooving, danceable. I'm no expert to name the genre or something but I liked the sound a lot and had a good time. Recommended listening.

Posted by betabug at 09:48 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
27 May 2009

9th European Jazz Festival in Athens

At the Technopolis in Gazi

It's time again for the European Jazz Festival in Athens. The 9th edition is held again at the Technopolis in Gazi. I've been there last year, found some good music and a lot of people who were there for the party, not necessarily for the music. Not that that's a bad thing, everybody was enjoying themselves.

There seems to be no official site for the event, except for one page without any real info on the Athens city website. Only real information in there: Entrance is free! Anyway, due to proceedings I don't want to mention in detail in public, I got handed a program leaflet yesterday evening, so I'll type in the program titles, click on "continue" to see it.

So there we go.. Please note that I'm typing this in from the official booklet, but if there are any changes, I won't keep this program up to date. Also you'll have to figure out what's what yourself, I'm not going to type in all the blurbs from the booklet! :-)

Wednesday 27.5.

21:00 Grand opening with the "Big Band" of the municipality of Athens

22:00 Benni Chaves (Denmark)

23:00 Ángela Tröndle & Mosaik (Austria)

Thursday 28.5.

21:00 Nordic Sounds (Estland)

22:00 Teun Verbruggen "Warped Dreamer" (Belgium)

23:00 Γιάννης Κασσέτας (Yannis Kassetas) & the funk wizards (Greece)

Friday 29.5.

21:00 Jerez-Texas (Spain)

22:00 Wired Paradise (Netherlands)

23:00 Marco di Gennaro & Luca Velotti Duo (Italy)

Saturday 30.5.

21:00 Kaisa Kulmala-Trio (Finland)

22:00 Miriam Bayle Band (Czech Republic)

23:00 Maria João Quartet (Portugal)

Sunday 31.5.

21:00 The David Kollar Band (Slovakia)

22:00 Maxime Bender Group (Luxembourg)

23:00 Eved-Fenyvesi Quarted (Hungary)

Posted by betabug at 09:31 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
15 June 2009

Schaltkreis Wassermann @ Benaki

Schaltkreis Wassermann playing at the Benaki Museum in Athens

This weekend I had visitors from Switzerland. The electronic music group Schaltkreis Wassermann - good friends from back in Switzerland - came for a gig at the synch festival. They played on Sunday evening in the atrium of the (new) Benaki museum on Pireus Street.

Appart from the concert we went out for food & drinks with them, got them to visit the Acropolis and a few other places in Athens, went one other evening with them to the synch festival. The festival itself I wasn't really so enthusiastic about. At the main venue in the Gazi, the sound from the two stages clashed. It also happened not to be something I liked too much, whatever it was that was playing at the moment. In other words: I didn't really warm up to the sound.

The Schaltkreis Wassermann gig was a bit different there: I had previously heard only some pieces, but I like their music now. I was also quite occupied, as I got handed a DSLR camera (some Canon thing) and was busy taking psychedelic pictures by forcing a long exposure and zooming around (ok, I took some more "serious" pictures too). The pic here is taken with my own little "toy" camera though.

Posted by betabug at 11:57 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
15 October 2009

Rainy Night in Georgia

Playlist Games

It's raining this morning in Athens, winter is here. In the office someone entered "rain" in the search field of iTunes and clicked on play... voilà, instant rain themed music day. Currently Playing "Rainy Night in Georgia" from Brook Benton. We also heard "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" by Bob Dylan and of course "Here Comes The Rain Again" by Annie Lennox.

I took an umbrella to walk to work.

Posted by betabug at 13:24 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
21 March 2010

Musik ohne Kabel

... im Frühling

Wir sind heutzutage umgeben von Musik. Es dröhnt aus allen Ecken, auf Knopfdruck lassen wir uns in allen Varianten beschallen. In früheren Zeiten, vor Radio und Gramophon, war das anders. Musik war, wenn jemand sang oder spielte. Hörte der Sänger auf, war die Musik vergangen mit dem Moment.

Gestern Abend war ich bei einem Konzert. In einem Haus, das 1908 nach Plänen von Ernst Ziller erbaut wurde und das vor einigen Jahren restauriert wurde. Da es hier schon Frühling ist, blühte und roch es im Garten wunderbar.

Gegeben wurde ein Rezital von Arien und Liedern (ich bin da nicht so der Spezialist für die Bezeichnungen) von Falcioneri über Händel bis Mozart, bekannteren und unbekannteren Komponisten. Klassische Musik, aber für mich zugänglich auch ohne zu wissen, was was ist.

Es sangen der Contra-Tenor Bασίλης Mπούρης (Vassilis Bouris) und die Sopranistin Aθηνά Bασιλείου (Athina Vasiliou). Beide haben wunderschöne Stimmen und viel Ausdruck. Begleitet wurden sie am Flügel von Mαρία Nεοφυτίδου (Maria Neofitidou), die - wenn ich das richtig verstanden habe - auch die Lehrerin und Mentorin der beiden ist.

All das war mir beim Zuhören nicht so wichtig. Ich habe einfach einen Moment der intensiven Musik genossen. Schöne, volle Töne für einige Stunden und dann ... eine Erinnerung.

Posted by betabug at 13:12 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
17 May 2010

Free music wanted? ... get yourself a record player

not downloaded

Little thought of the morning: If you want free music, just go and get yourself a good, old-fashioned record player. My friend saad did just that last Friday and he's practically showered in LPs from friends and neighbors. High-quality, good music Long Playing Disks at that. Stuff you will listen to over and over. You might not be able to listen to it on your MP3-player while you're out doing something else, but listening to music undisturbed, as an act in itself, is something really rewarding.

With a bit of luck you will even get the record player for free or for a very good price second hand. Even if you can't get one for free, there are some very good models sold for very reasonable prices.

Never mind that with a good setup the music will also sound much better than CD. Funny how in my mind I draw the parallel to "analog" (good old silver-halogenid based, non-digital) photography, where the image quality is also in a different dimension and where you also sometimes get stuff for free.

Posted by betabug at 09:47 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
30 May 2010

European Jazz Party... err Festival

There is music too

Both on Thursday and Friday evening I passed by the 10th European Jazz Festival in Athens. I say "passed by", since in difference to the last years, I wasn't there for more than half an hour each time.

One reason was that both times the band currently playing wasn't playing on my bandwidth. I'm not too much into the experimental, modern kind of jazz. If you can't be too sure if what you're hearing is the actual performance or they're still sound checking their instruments, it's not too groovy for me. Possibly just tough luck, another time I might have hit on something great like in other years.

Apart from that, the festival is so much just a big party. Hey, it's free, it's summer, everybody is there. It does not leave me with the impression that people are there for the music. In fact, any music would probably do. I would not be surprised if someone brought a ghetto blaster. To put it short, an event to pass by from.

Posted by betabug at 00:33 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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