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Monthly Archives: September 2008

Never Ending A Film Noir

inner sleeve

inner sleeve

Film Noir might have been short-lived but they are still considered an outstanding Greek new wave band of the 80s mainly because of their first album titled “Never Ending Dream“.

The band was formed in 1985 and soon started playing live mostly in the Cat’s Meow Club on Syggrou Avenue in Athens.

Their singer, Maria-Gabriela Loukaki (Mariela), was a great performer on stage, reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux.  The band’s songs were closely in line with the styles of The Cure, Xmal Deutchland, as well as Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Their drummer, S. Adam (Spyros Floros), was the former drummer of the punk rock band, Ausschwitss, while their guitar player, Kostas Sokialis, produced several other records, such as the electro single of the band In Trance 95.

Film Noir released the album “Never Ending Dream” in 1986 through an independent label and the album slowly received a cult status, especialy in the late the 90s.

Mariela left the band in late 1987, moving to Australia for a while to become a model.

Without their female singer the band looked like they had a huge problem and soon lost their musical identity.

film noir

film noir

They released a second album in 1990 titled “Portrait of a Child“, but I never heard of any gigs with their new line up.  This time they had a male singer behind the mic and the sound was very close to David Sylvian‘s Japan.

Nothing else was ever released from this band, which to me sounded like two completely different bands under the same name.

Their bass player, Coti K. (Kyriakou), later produced bands such as Tuxedomoon, Stereo Nova, The Flowers of Romance, and Raining Pleasure.  He still releases very interesting abstract electronica albums.

Sadly, Mariela Loukaki passed away at the age of 33 after losing her battle with cancer.

You can listen to this band HERE

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2008 in New Wave / Dark Wave

 

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the greek punk world of the early 80s

I was realy surprised to find this one.  It’s a Stress vid playing live in “Sofita” and you can also spot Panx Romana’s singer, Frank, amongst the audience.

Well, there is also one pic from 1980 taken in “Aretousa” when Frank was still singing for the Stress.
Wow.

STRESS – ATHENS BURNING

STRESS – ATHINA

The next video was taken on a random evening after the Zografou incident (read more on “BABY STEPS TO A NEW ERA”) at the Sofita Club:

R.R.Hearse+EX HUMANS / Endless DREAM

I know Parthenogenesis never recorded anything.  Or at least they never released anything…

A great (and fortunate for us) person uploaded this and made us all happy:

PARTENOGENESIS/House of the Rising Sun (from a rehearsal in 1980)

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2008 in Music

 

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Baby steps to a new era vol. II

Why is it that the major labels of Greece were never interested in exporting all these bands?

I suppose, partly, the answer is simple:

Let’s say the mother major record label (we’ll name it “X” label) opens a branch in some country … er … Greece, for example. 

The branch has to distribute or re-press the releases of this foreign “x” label.  They are allowed to use some of the profit to sign local artists (bouzouki musicians) and to distribute them not only in Greece, but to also distribute them elsewhere, too.

However, there is a catch.

The Greek branch can sign a Greek rock band too but the “x” label won’t be interested in exporting these artists out of Greece.

Why ?

Metro Decay – Σκιές (engl: Skies – Shadows)

Cause the “x” label has its own signed local artists and doesn’t want other foreign artists (that sound almost the same as the local ones) to do some serious damage and lose good money.

Skip the accent thing. 

In this world there are more people speaking English (some with weird accents anyway) than Americans and English.  It’s like Marianne Faithful said: “Don’t say it in Russian/Don’t say it in German/Say it in broken English”.  Cause people want to communicate with more people from other countries and everybody uses the English language.

This wasn’t my decision … and this is why this blog is in English. 

Because somebody may become aware of these bands if the blog is in English. 

There are already plenty of blogs in the Greek language doing a very nice job passing on information about all these people.  So, this thing with the majors is understandable up to this point and probably the same thing happens with other countries where English is not their native language, but…

This is why they call it “the industry”.  It’s all about money.  Not “art” or “expression”.

Its like selling cheese or shoes or… i don’t know… umbrellas lets say…

Its not about dreams. This is the real world and it smells really funny…

Of course, the branch of the “x” label cannot export the Greek releases to a random foreign major label.  They can only export to the “x” label, or, to other branches of this “x” label, in some other part of the world or to small independent distributors.  I am talking about distributors, not record labels that are not called “x branch of USA”, for example.

So here comes the question:

Why didn’t the biggies send Greek rock releases to these small distributors?

We all know that a demand is needed, but we also all know that promotion is bringing the demand.

And why is it that most of the Greeks living abroad have no idea about the Greek rock scene?

Cause promotion is an investment, meaning ‘well-spent’ money … and the Greek branches just don’t want to spend money on some weird looking kids (who might give them a new target group — people who don’t speak Greek).  They are too focused in exporting the big bouzouki names, keeping the rock scene as a well-hidden secret.

You can call them narrow-minded people.

Being polite, I could call them all stupid.

Clown – Λευκά κελιά (engl: Lefka Kelia – White Cells)

By the time the first indie Greek label showed up in the early 80s, the scene was heated.  Punk rock bands, new wave bands, heavy metal bands, and prog rock bands with Greek or English lyrics were playing in clubs, in schools, in theaters, and even in public squares.  Some of them were signed to biggies, such as the band P.L.J (who later changed their name to Termites), as well as the band Apocalypsis.

In 1982, Babis Dalidis created the first Greek independent record label in Athens, Creep Records.  It wasn’t an easy thing to do. He had no one to turn to for advice.  Recording studios were not sure if these bands were doing the right thing cause they sounded nothing like the usual bouzouki stuff they were working on.  These were loco new wave bands with singers crawling on the recording room floors while recording the vocals.

But Babis just loved music and he wanted to see some Greek bands on vinyl.  That was all.

It was a long way.  Going to recording studios, then to the pressing factories, and then finally distributing those weird Greek new wave bands in the Greek market.

But Creep Records left a mark beginning a new era for the Greek indie labels.  Bands that sounded like the Birthday Party or Bauhaus found a home.

South of No North – Fell Frozen

Greek lyrics or English lyrics, it didn’t matter.  The point was MUSIC.  And Creep Records made this point very clear.

Cause thanks to this label, the Greek underground of the 80s survived on records.  Eight 7″ singles and 13 LPs that keep the music of these bands alive and which will last forever.  From the dark wave melodies of South of No North to the Birthday Partyish atmospheres of Yell-O-Yell.

The Art of Parties recorded their single in England. They live in the States now and one of them is a famous jazz sax player.

The Vyllies were from Switzerland.  They released two more albums through some other label.

Villa 21 became big in the Greek underground.

Even Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys was thrilled by the Creep releases and exchanged a few letters with Babis.  Actually, Biafra spoted Villa 21’s song “Too Much Nothing” in the American compilation “World Class Punk” released by ROIR “Reach-Out International Records” and he sent the first letter.

There wasn’t any official distribution for Creep’s releases abroad.  There was no sign of help from anywhere.  After “opening” the doors for future labels to put their releases on record store shelves without any problem, Babis decided to stop after a couple of years.

He sure did a great and respectful job.

The Vyllies-Babylon

CREEP RECORDS RELEASES

SINGLES:   CR   01

  CR   02

  CR   03

  CR   04

  CR   05

  CR   06 

  CR   07

  CR   08 Yell-O-Yell

Villa 21

Headleaders

The Reporters

Metro Decay

Villa 21

Clown

Art Of Parties Shoot The Truth

I See No

Voices

Computer World

Κειμήλια

Move

Λευκά Κελλιά

Last Time – Central Room

 L.P.’s:   Creep 01

  Creep 02

  Creep 03

  Creep 04

  Creep 05

  Creep 06

  Creep 07

  Creep 08

  Creep 09

  Creep 10

  Creep 11

  Creep 12

  Creep 13

  The Reporters

Yell-O-Yell

Headleaders

Villa 21

Metro Decay

The Vyllies

Yell-O-Yell

CPT Νεφος

South Of No North

Rehearsed Dreams

Angelo and His Egos

Villa 21

South Of No North Bare Hands

Funtime

What It Means To Me

A Ghost On The Move

Υπερβαση

The Vyllies

Hello Hell

Silence Interrupted

Lacrimae Christ!

Repulsion

Egotriping at the Gates of Hell

Men Of Clay

Fell Frozen

 
 

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when inside a great mind lives a great heart

Yiannis Kalifatidis

Yiannis Kalifatidis

By the late 80s two Greek students, Yiannis Kalifatidis and Kostas Tzeras, formed the band Into The Abyss in Darmstadt-Germany.  They were soon joined by other German musicians.

I am not sure just when Tzeras returned to Greece, leaving behind Kalifatidis as the only Greek in the band.  Their first demo releases, “The Frozen Minds” (1988) and “Songs About Martyrs & Criminals” (1990), made it clear that the band was influenced by New Model Army, Joy Division, etc.

Their first album titled “Martyrium”, released in 1993, found the band exploring different music styles, which was closer to the sound of The Fields Of The Nephilim, but more trippy than ever.

A year later, with the addition of the violin and oboe in the cover version of The Doors’ “Waiting For The Sun”, the need was made obvious that the band was moving away from their initial gothic sound.  Before doing so, one of their songs, “Banner of The Fray” was featured in Mick Mercer’s “Gothic Rock” compilation.  During this same year (1995) Into The Abyss released their single “La Soeur D’Icare” from their upcoming album “The Feathered Snake”.

For the next three years they toured extensively throughout Germany, the UK, Belgium, Italy, Austria, and Spain with bands such as Pink Turns Blue, Crime & the City Solution, Dave-id Busaras (ex-Virgin Prunes), Shock Therapy, Sweet William, Vendemmian, Kiss the Blade, Nosferatu, Corpus Delicti, Die Laughing, This Burning Effigy, Drowning Maud Land, Mephisto Walz, and Girls Under Glass, to name but a few.

In December 1995 they released a 10” split record with the psychedelic German band Grass Harp and Into The Abyss turned into a peculiar psychedelic group.  Their next stop was in 1998 with the release of their double-vinyl album titled “Cosmogonia”.  In this album one can find elements of world music, psychedelia, prog rock, some gothic, as well as some space rock.

Yiannis Kalifatidis-live

Yiannis Kalifatidis - Live

Without a doubt, it was one of the most interesting releases of Kalidatidis’s band and covered a vast music space that one needs to experience.

In April 2000, the band had their first and last gig in Greece at the Athenian club “An” with the German band Embryo as an opening act.  This gig was recorded and released a year later on a CD album, titled  Adrenochrome, and covered all the phases the band went through.

In addition to all this, Kalifatidis also released “Fight Amnesia”, a 16-page xerox copy fanzine full of addresses made to help other bands contact each other and to help each other with gigs and stuff.  “Fight Amnesia” was given away for free as all expenses, including p+p,  were being paid by Kalifatidis’s own pocket.

Into The Abyss wasn’t a 100% Greek band, but it was formed by two Greeks, and was used as a vehicle, at least to one of them, for the voyage into the wonderful world of music.

Unfortunately, the band remained virtually unknown to the Greek audience.

Their homepage:  http://comig.net/abyss/
Their last interview: http://www.aural-innovations.com/issues/issue18/inabyss2.html

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2008 in Music

 

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There is Always Something new out there

Elysion

Elysion

What about the new Greek bands then ?

Well, there are several new bands coming up like mushrooms all around the country.  Rock’n’roll is not a sin nor a crime anymore but…

My personal opinion is that because of things rapidly changing in the music
industry during the last years, the musicians are left a little behind.  Meaning that the new generation is still dreaming of big deals with record labels instead of searching for new ways to publish their music in this vast world of the internet.

The vinyl format and the CD format are getting out of the way.  They have been replaced with ‘downloads’ and this is something everyone has to deal with.

But that’s a different story…

So, like everywhere around the world, there are good bands and… not that good ones.  It always depends on how you define the word “good” when it comes to music.  According to my tastes, the following band, Elysion, is a great one.

I first saw Elysion playing live during 2007, at the Playhouse Gotique Festival in Athens, where they immediately caught my attention.  Their sound is fresh with catchy melodies and very nice gothic/metal songs.

Maxi Nil - Backstage

Maxi Nil - Backstage

Although the band members are in their early 20s, they are already very experienced and possess a powerful sound with a charismatic female singer.  (Sometimes they remind me of Evanescence…)  Their music can move your feet even if you’re not a fan of that genre and it’s a shame there is no video out there to give you an idea of how cool or wild they are on stage, with the guys headbanging and jumping in the air while Miss Maxi Nil gives you angry looks.

Elysion was formed in 2003 and since then they’ve been on a string of gigs, they won a few contests, and they were one of the 3 bands that Klaus Meine picked to support the Scorpions in Athens.  Supporting the Dutch band “The Gathering” was another highlight in their thusfar short career.  The band has an album ready and waiting for a lucky record label to offer them a deal to make their dreams come true.

You can listen to their music and find more about them by clicking here:  http://www.myspace.com/elysionmyspace

You will certainly find something you like, cause … man, these guys are ready…

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2008 in Music

 

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Pink Floyd member Richard Wright dies at age 65

R.I.P. Rick Wright

The following comes from New York Times:

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: September 16, 2008

LONDON (AP) — Richard Wright, a founding member of Pink Floyd, died Monday. He was 65.

The rock group’s spokesman, Doug Wright, who’s unrelated, said Wright died after a battle with cancer at his home in Britain. He said the band member’s family did not want to give more details about his death.
Wright met Pink Floyd members Roger Waters and Nick Mason in college and joined their early band, Sigma 6. Along with the late Syd Barrett, the four formed Pink Floyd in 1965.
The group’s jazz-infused rock and drug-laced multimedia ”happenings” made them darlings of the London psychedelic scene, and their 1967 album, ”The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” was a hit.
In the early days of Pink Floyd, Wright, along with Barrett, was seen as the group’s dominant musical force. The London-born musician and son of a biochemist wrote songs and played the keyboard.
”Rick’s keyboards were an integral part of the Pink Floyd sound,” said Joe Boyd, a prominent record producer who worked with Pink Floyd early in its career.
The band released a series of commercially and critically successful albums including 1973’s ”The Dark Side of the Moon,” which has sold more than 40 million copies. Wright wrote ”The Great Gig in the Sky” and ”Us and Them” for that album, and worked on the group’s epic compositions such as ”Atom Heart Mother,” ”Echoes” and ”Shine on You Crazy Diamond.”
But tensions grew among Waters, Wright and fellow band member David Gilmour. The tensions came to a head during the making of ”The Wall” when Waters insisted Wright be fired. As a result, Wright was relegated to the status of session musician on the tour of ”The Wall,” and did not perform on Pink Floyd’s 1983 album, ”The Final Cut.”
Wright formed a new band Zee with Dave Harris from the band Fashion, and released one album, ”Identity,” with Atlantic Records.
Waters left Pink Floyd in 1985 and Wright began recording with Mason and Gilmour again, releasing the albums ”The Division Bell” and ”A Momentary Lapse of Reason” as Pink Floyd. Wright also released the solo albums ”Wet Dream” (1978) and ”Broken China” (1996).
In July 2005, Wright, Waters, Mason and Gilmour reunited to perform at the ”Live 8” charity concert in London — the first time in 25 years they had been onstage together.
Wright also worked on Gilmour’s solo projects, most recently playing on the 2006 album ”On an Island” and the accompanying world tour.
Gilmour paid tribute to Wright on Monday, saying his input was often forgotten.
”He was gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognized Pink Floyd sound,” he said. ”I have never played with anyone quite like him.”

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2008 in Music

 

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Baby steps to a new era

By the late 70s it was easy to watch movies like “Woodstock”, “Monterey Pop Festival”, and maybe even “Tommy” or “Quadrophenia” some early Sunday morning at a theater near your neighborhood.  Maybe this applied more to Athens and Thessaloniki and not with the countryside where the kids who listened to rock music were given a hard time.

Students in the senior class of high schools in Greece get a six day excursion to a Greek island and most of the classes organised events in order to raise funding for these excursions.  The above-mentioned movies were sometimes used for that reason as there was an on-going interest in rock music.

But things changed in the international music scene.

Punk rock gave a chance to new bands and musicians to come to the surface and Greece followed.  Well, not exactly the whole country but there was a small number of bands and kids that joined the punk movement…

The first Greek punk rock band was called “Parthenogenesis” and by 1978 they supported “Socrates Drank the Conium” when they stated on stage that “Rock is dead“.  The audienced booed them heavily but this was the beggining of the Greek punk rock scene.

A second band was formed next year, “Stress“.  Their frontman, Frank, would later form “Panx Romana“.  In the early 80s the movement in Athens became even more powerful by having 250-500 punks centered around the Plaka (the old part of the city under the Acropolis hill) with even more bands, a punk club for gigs, “Aretousa“, and a couple of places like “Mad Club” (in Plaka) or “Snowball” (in the Kolonaki area) where these kids could go.

chaos-generation-sofita-1982

chaos-generation-sofita-1982

Several bands were active, such as “Chaos Generation“, “Birth Ward 82“, “Stress“, “Ex Humans” (the first greek hardcore band to release an album in 1984, former names: “Guilotins” and “Soldiers Of Anarchy“), Anypoforoi,  “Ausschwitss“, “Flowers Of Romance“, “Gulag” (in Salonika), “Grover“,”Adiexodo“, “Magic De Spell“, “Arnakia” “Panx Romana” and others.

In the years to come, some of them would split, some of them would change or move into different music directions, but most of them helped each other during those heydays and shared instruments and rehearsal rooms.

Things were difficult for these kids while they had to deal with the conservative Greek society.  Every day people attacked them or they had to stand for hours and hours during police interogations and street fights with football hooligans who were carrying knives, razors and chains (there was a club for hooligans, called “Aris” on the oposite sidewalk of “Aretousa“).

The skinheads were their only allies (until 1983 when the skins and punk parted ways after a fight during the Bauhaus gig in Athens).

Some were visiting London, bringing back records and some were working for record stores (Happening was one of them) ordering punk vinyls especialy for their friends. The first 7″ single of this first-generation of Greek punk rock scene, was released by “Birth Ward 82” through Happening Records (this Athenian record store had a few releases).

Birth Ward 82 - Fireworks

Birth Ward 82 - Fireworks

EMI offered a deal to “Soldiers Of Anarchy” after a gig at Zografou University camp where they were the opening act for “Mousikes Taxiarhies” (engl: Music Brigades).  When “Soldiers Of Anarchy” went on stage, a crowd of 2500 booed while about 50-100 punks took positions in front of the stage to protect the band. Lambros, their singer back then, was very sharp dressed and the audience didn’t realise what would happen. When the band started playing the audience almost turned to run to escape while Lambros started shouting, singing and trying to bring down the towers of speakers. That night, EMI went backstage with an offer for them. The band had to agree to change their name first.  They refused although they changed their name to “Ex Humans” a little later. During the same year, this Black Flag influenced band released their album, and in 1984, the first punk compilation was released too on an independent record label (Enigma) titled “Diataraxi Kinis Isihias” (Engl: Disruption Of Public Peace gr: Διατάραξη Κοινής Ησυχίας) that featured only bands with greek lyrics.

Aretousa” was shut down when somebody set the curtins of the club on fire and the scene moved “Skylab“, the club next door.  Almost every night you could find live performances by “Birth Ward” as they played their own songs in addition to UK Subs and Cockney Rejects covers.

One more club opened the doors for these bands, “Sofita“, owned by Iraklis Triantafylides, a very open-minded musician of the Prog Rock band, Lernaia Hydra.

During the mid 80s, the goverment decided to turn the whole Plaka area into a tourist attraction and everything was turned into little shops which sold ouzo and miniature replicas of the Acropolis … and, of course, there was the addition of tavernas …

Punks were spread in many other areas of Athens after that and new clubs opened for their music.  “Blue Note” (mostly a new wave bar with video projector), “Dragon’s Fly” (with a VCR for punks to watch “The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle“, the “White Riot Tour“, “Plasmatics Live“, etc., every Saturday morning).
More people joined the movement, new wave bands appeared, independent labels were founded and things took their way.

Panx Romana released their debut album, “Paidia sta Opla” (engl. Kids on Guns gr: Παιδιά στα Οπλα) in 1984.  They were carrying a strong anti-war message and quickly gained the interest of the public with songs heavily influenced by the Clash and the Ramones.

In 1987 the band released the LP “Antartes Poleon” (engl: “City Guerillas” gr: Ανταρτες Πόλεων).  Both albums sold thousands of copies and the band released a third album titled “Spase tin Grami” (engl: Break the line gr: Σπασε την Γραμμή).  Three years later, “Diagogi Kosmia” (engl: Good Behaviour gr: Διαγωγή Κοσμία) came out and “Kratos Kliston” (engl: The Country is Closed gr: Κράτος Κλειστόν) was released in 1999 before the band went on a break.

Their music influenced a lot of greek groups to follow this music style that Panx Romana never changed.  Using Greek lyrics made it very difficult for the band to go over the Greek borders, but on the other hand, their lyrics were dealing mainly with Greek issues.

During 2008 the band was reactivated with their first line up for a string of gigs.  Time will tell if they will release a new album or not.

All their releases were through independent record labels.

panx romana – official site

Panx Romana – live 29/08/08

Thanks to those first punk bands, it was just a matter of time before hundreds of new wave bands showed up, as well as fanzines and independent labels. The underground scene in general would become more active than ever for the next 10 years.

 

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