Words by Jane Cornwell
Balkan beatmaster goes to Greece
With over two decades of being lauded for his electronic take on Gypsy brass and klezmer stylings, Frankfurt’s Shantel hit the wall every mega-successful beats producer hits. Where do you go when every person and their dog is making beats in their bedroom, when your tunes are sounding a little bland and predictable? In Shantel’s case, you go to Athens – before launching yourself off to other hotspots around the world. Viva Diaspora is an ambitious and often demanding album, chock full of snappy, multi-textured tracks that harness the talents of a wealth of digital artists and live traditional musicians. A loose trajectory leads from the rebetika tavernas of Greece to the bars of Lebanon and Turkey, and then onto the dance floors of Paris and Berlin, all with influences from the rap and reggae of downtown New York.
This, then, is an inclusive journey, with method in its anything-goes madness and textures that reveal more of themselves with each listen. Track titles such as ‘Oriental Cha Cha’ and ‘The Streets Where the Kids Have Fun’ hint at the mash-ups within, but there is beauty here too, with Greek tenor Areti Ketime lending heartfelt vocals to tracks such as ‘EastWest – Dysi Ki Anatoli’. Genres skid and slide and bump and grind in a non-stop world party.