Tag Archives: Greece

Prog from the ancient city of Athens

Ciccada – Greece

In the home of the Gods, the cradle of Western civilization, something powerful and magical is stirring. When it comes to progressive rock, Greece has a long and distinguished history, not least among the list of notables being the mighty Aphrodite’s Child. Inevitably, though, old makes way for new, and here come a fresh band of torch-bearers from the ancient city of Athens…

Ciccada are: Nicolas Nikolopoulos (flute, recorder, sax, and keyboards); Yorgos Mouchos (guitars); Yannis Iliakis (drums,synthesizer); Dimitra Spela (vocals) and Aggelos Mal (bass). The band was formed in 2005 and their last album, The Finest of Miracles, was deservedly well-received by the prog community. It’s a down-the-rabbit-hole adventure that is cinematic in scope, weaving and turning whilst rocking hard.

Ciccada - The Finest of Miracles
Ciccada – The Finest of Miracles

At times Ciccada sound like a heavenly mix of Renaissance, Gryphon and King Crimson, but that would be selling them short – there is a marriage of robustness and delicacy, intricacy and power in their music that is unique. It’s a spellbinding quality perhaps best reflected in their wide-spread influences. As Nicolas attests, the band not only cite prog-rock luminaries such as Gentle Giant, but also “…the greats of the first half of 20th century like R.V. Williams, Bartok, Martinu, the French school of Six, Stravinsky, Martin, Bernstein, to name but a few.”

I asked Nicolas how he viewed the musical vision of the band. “To merge our influences,” he told me, “in a genuine musical language of our own. Be faithful to our tastes `till the end. And play it to the people!

What is, does he think that makes progressive music so popular and enduring?

The challenging mixes of styles and its adventurous nature. Many progressive artists` output is timeless like the great classic composers` work is.”

Perhaps it’s this even-handed respect for both progressive rock and classical music that makes Ciccada’s work sound so extraordinary. Not that the band limit themselves to inspiration from musical sources, they have also contributed to “Decameron”, a special project featuring music based on tales by the 14th century Italian writer, Boccacio, and a similar venture celebrating the work of visionary horror-maestro H.P. Lovecraft.

What next for the band?

A new release of a 12′ inch is due next month,” says Nicolas, “there will be just two songs that never made it to our albums but were included in several thematic projects in the past.”

 

 

Discography:

Child In The Mirror
The Finest of Miracles

Masterful Prog and Beyond from Greece

Gravitysays_i – Quantum Unknown (Inner Ear Records, 2016)

Quantum Unknown is the third album by a fascinating progressive music band from Greece called Gravitysays_i. Their sound is a mix of epic progressive rock, Pink Floyd-style space rock, post rock, ambient electronics, experimental effects and world music influences. This makes Gravitysays_i one of the most interesting acts we’ve heard in recent months.

In addition to the usual rock band instruments, Gravitysays_i adds acoustic instruments like trumpet, Cretan lyra and the beautiful mesmerizing sound of the santur, a hammed dulcimer originally from Persia.

The vocals are in English and have a darkwave/post rock feel. Post rock has a tendency of meandering and not going anywhere. Thankfully, Gravitysays_i injects captivating electronic and prog rock arrangements and melodies that keep you engaged throughout the entire recording.

Gravitysays_i was formed in March of 2003 by Manos Paterakis and Nikos Retsos in Piraeus. Their debut album was “The Roughest Sea” (Sirius, 2007). The band’s second album was “The Figures of Enormous Grey and The Patterns of Fraud” (Restless Wind, 2011).

The lineup on the album includes Manos Paterakis on lead vocals, santur, lead and rhythm guitar, pocket piano, electric bass; Nikos Retsos on drums, synths, acoustic and electronic percussion, rhythm santur, 12-string guitar, Celtic harp; Mampre Kasardjian on double bass and electric bass and backing vocals; Alekos Georgoulopoulos on lead and rhythm guitar; Vangelis Katsarelis on trumpets and flugelhorn; Nikos Sotiropoulus on lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals; Costas Stergiou on keyboards and backing vocals; and Peggy Sarrou on vocals; and George Kontogiannis on Cretan lyra.

Quantum Unknown is a masterful progressive music recording showcasing the talent of some of the finest musicians from southern Europe.