Magazine article New Internationalist

Mortissa

Magazine article New Internationalist

Mortissa

Article excerpt

Mortissa

Rembetika - that booze-soaked, hash-smoked music of a bygone Athens - is enjoying a revival, with much of it coming from outside Greece. Mortissa - the word means a strong, independent woman - is one such album which extends our picture of the genre by including the Smyrna (current-day Izmir) side of things.

A Turkish Alevi Kurd, Çi?dem Aslan is mindful of the ruptured history of a music that, though often dubbed the 'Greek blues', is more than that. It is shaped, in part, by the mass expulsion in the early 20th century of native Greeks and others from what is now Turkish Anatolia.

Mortissa, which concentrates on the A natolian roots of rembetika's smyrneika style, acknowledges wide influences - Turkish and Greek but also Armenian and Levantine Jewish music. Ably assisted by Nikolaos Baimpas' small band, Aslan's vocals have the right kind of poise - coy one moment, desperate the next - necessary to make these famous songs live again. …

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