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Baker's Dozen

Parallel Worlds: Peter Strickland's Favourite Albums
Colm McAuliffe , June 3rd, 2014 13:03

On the occasion of the Berberian Sound Studio and Katalin Varga director releasing Wasp Boutique, a collaboration between Art-Errorist and Zsolt Sőrés, on his record label, and with a new feature film on the way, he sits down with Colm McAuliffe to talk 13 formative favourites


Míkis Theodorakis - Epitafios
Even though I was raised in Reading, Greek culture was always around me because of my family roots. Greek music was always playing somewhere whether it was Kantathes, Rebetiko or more Western-orientated songs. Theodorakis is probably the giant of contemporary Greek music along with the late Manos Hadjidakis. I bought Epitafios a few years ago, mainly because the cover looked interesting. At first, it comes across as straightforward, joyous sounding Greek music that lets itself blossom unashamedly, but then you realise that it's actually quite a dark album. As far as I know, the basis for the music is a mother's lamentation for her son, which is surprising given how the music mostly sounds so full of life. Several versions exist, but the one with Mairi Linta on vocals from 1960 (I think) is my favourite, especially with the arrangements.

Up until recently, my generation in the West had this idea of Greece as a haven of good food, sea and sunshine, forgetting that within the last five hundred years or so, the country saw relatively little peace and prosperity between occupation, wars, civil war and a coup. Even Theodorakis ended up in jail during the junta years. Melina Mercouri was in exile and the future leader, Andreas Papandreou was also thrown in jail by Colonel George Papadopoulos prompting President Lyndon Johnson to allegedly advise the Greek ambassador to tell "Papa-what's-his name to get Papa-what's-his-name out of jail." Maybe it's just my reading of it, but the music in Epitafios exudes the joy of relief that war and starvation is over. No time to mope or reflect, but an attempt just to get on with it and enjoy life before the next potential tragedy strikes. I might be wrong in guessing that, but if you hear the album musically rather than lyrically, it does convey that attitude.