Words by Maria Lord
Classic Aegean café music at its smokiest, dirtiest best
This is a lovely disc, reaching back to the origins of rebetika, which, in part, derives from the music performed by Greek-speaking musicians in the urban centres of Asia Minor, notably Smyrna (modern-day Izmir). An important element of the music was improvisation, and that is something highlighted here and given expression through the light and flexible voice of María Símoglou. But it’s the instrumental playing that really catches the attention. Straightaway you are in a different sound-world from rebetika, with the distinctly Anatolian kanonáki (zither), láfta (lute) and ney (flute).
The playing is exemplary and complements the vocal lines beautifully. The opening track, ‘Férte Bires’, begins with a gently swinging rhythm that carries you away before the voice enters. The disc is well-paced, taking us from the dance-like ‘Apefásisa Poulí Mou’ to the contemplative ‘Gínoum’ Ándras’. All in all, a highly recommended exploration of a fascinating musical culture that flowered at the beginning of the 20th century and gave rise to other traditions across the Aegean.