Posts Tagged ‘Monsieur Doumani’
Photography by Haydn Wheeler
Simon Broughton reports on the excellent artists performing at the first evening of Songlines Encounters Festival
Songlines Encounters Festival kicked off with our favourite Cypriot trio: a turban, a top-knot and a flat cap. These were Antonis, Demetris and Angelos, otherwise known as Monsieur Doumani. Do they perhaps represent the Sufi, the hippie and the labourer? Whatever, they play a wonderful reworking of traditional Cypriot repertoire and numbers of their own.
The common theme last night was Southern European musical cultures with a twist. Monsieur Doumani have a love of the tradition but delivered with a mischievous irreverence. Their song ‘The Bland’ is directed at politicians who don’t do what they preach. But what comes over to us non-Greek speakers is the sense of enjoyment and the striking instrumental arrangements for mini-bouzouki (tzouras), guitar and trombone (occasionally flute). They play with a fire that got the audience animated from the start. Monsieur Doumani are a terrific band with an infectious sense of fun.
Gisela João – pronounced Ju-wow – also delivers fado with a twist. Not for her the traditional black shawl. She’s wearing blue sneakers and a short white dress of her own design, which looks like what an angel might wear while playing tennis. For her fado is life. “We are not always smiling,” she says, “and we are not always sad.” For João, fado reflects all of life, including chance meetings with interstellar aliens in the garden – a highlight of last night’s show. Her band are brilliant musically, with Ricardo Parriera on Portuguese guitar, but they need to look like they’re having fun – like Monsieur Doumani do.
But what is special about João is the way she can send up the genre yet perform some of her emotional numbers, like ‘Madrugada sem Sono’ and ‘Meu Amigo Está Longe’, so they go straight to he heart. Justifiably she got a standing ovation. Gisela is a star. Ju-WOW!
Monsieur Doumani will be performing at Songlines Encounters Festival on June 4.
The Nicosia-based trio Monsieur Doumani have returned with a truly sterling effort on their second album. It features reworkings of traditional Cypriot folk songs and new compositions; an ambitious and altogether rewarding project. Clocking in at just under an hour, this album covers a vast amount of ground. From the wistful opener ‘Gongs’ to the serene closer ‘Good Tidings’, Sikoses never once loses your interest and is consistently strong, both lyrically and sonically. The title-track is based on a traditional melody, and its music complements the sentiments of the lyrical content perfectly: lilting brass and mystical harmonies conjure up the sense of loss following the end of a carnival.
The couplet ‘sycophants and zombies would scheme all day/ and drink hot blood from sundown to dawn’ is not the kind you hear every day, and the astute social criticism throughout – notably on ‘That’s What the Kitten Wants’ – helps make this an outstanding work. The centrepiece, an eight-minute opus named ‘Black-Eyed Girl’, showcases the musical talents of the trio, with magnificent slide work by Antonis Antoniou on the tzouras (lute), a beauteous flute refrain from Demetris Yiasemides, and haunting vocals from Angelos Ionas. This is a wonderfully conceived album, from a masterfully accomplished trio.
For the first time in its five-year history, Songlines Encounters will tour venues around the UK
This years Songlines Encounters Festival at London’s Kings Place (June 4-6) features musicians from Portugal, Cyprus, Iran, the UK and Bangladesh. There are some UK premieres, some first-time collaborations and lots of supremely inspirational music. As ever with Songlines Encounters, the idea is to discover something new and memorable. Visit the Encounters website to find out more. The festival is co-curated by Songlines magazine and Ikon Arts Management.
Portugal’s rising fado star Gisela João, Iranian sisters Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat and progressive Cypriot trio Monsieur Doumani will tour as part of Songlines Encounters On Tour.
Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat
May 30 Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham
May 31 Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea
June 1 MWLDAN, Cardigan
June 3 The Met, Bury
June 4 Songlines Encounters Festival at Kings Place, London
June 5 The Hothouse, Morecambe
June 6 Unity Works, Wakefield
Photography by Mário Pires
Celebrating its fifth year Songlines Encounters Festival features musicians from Portugal, Cyprus, Iran, the UK and Bangladesh.
Taking place from June 4-6 at London’s Kings Place, Songlines Encounters Festival will feature UK premieres, first-time collaborations and lots of supremely inspirational music. There will also be film screenings, talks and free foyer performances. The festival is co-curated by Songlines magazine and Ikon Arts Management.
We are also delighted to announce that for the first time Songlines Encounters will be going on tour throughout the country. Visit Ikon Arts to find out where we will be travelling to.
Thursday June 4, Hall 1, 8:00pm
Monsieur Doumani (on tour)
The trio Monsieur Doumani play Cypriot music – both their own and traditional – with humour and panache. This show launches their new album Sikoses.
Gisela João (on tour)
The new fado singer that Portugal is raving about. Her debut recording was an album of the year in Portugal. Expect traditional fado at its very best in this UK premiere.
Friday June 5, Hall 1, 7:30pm
With six solo albums behind him, Chisholm is one of Scotland’s great fiddlers (read more in the March #106 issue). Traditional and contemporary music from the Highland glens.
Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat (on tour)
These sisters are like no other singing duo you’ve heard. Their voices interweave so beautifully, you’d never guess they’re forbidden to sing publicly back home in Iran. They will also do a special Songlines Encounters collaboration with Duncan Chisholm.
Friday June 5, Hall 2, 9:30pm
One of Britain’s great electro-African dance bands with live vocals, kora, guitar and percussion with electronics drawing on house, dubstep and hip-hop.
Saturday June 6, Hall 1, 2:00pm
She’Koyokh: Kids Concert
Join Britain’s best klezmer band She’Koyokh for a participatory concert for children, introducing music from Eastern Europe with stories, singing and dancing!
Saturday June 6, Hall 1, 7:30PM
Shikor Bangladesh All Stars & Lokkhi Terra
The Shikor Bangladesh All Stars feature seven of the best traditional musicians from Bangladesh, including folk singer Baby Akhtar, dhol drummer Nazrul Islam and maestro of Baul music Rob Fakir. In part two of this concert, the All Stars join together with the Anglo-Bangladeshi group Lokkhi Terra. This UK premiere brings Songlines Encounters Festival a danceable finale as the roots of Bangladesh meet Latin dance rhythms and the urban jungle.