These old-world minstrals got their start in 1994 in the country of Greece. Using their countries ancient history and religions they developed their unique musical style and worked hard over the next four years to create their debut album The Bacchic Dance of the Nymphs. The next few years would become defining for the band as they refine their style and work with ancient musical instrument maker Nikos Brass. This collaboration brings about a renewed focus on authentic instruments of the ancient world (the Hellenic era) of Greece. By 2002 the band signed with the fairy world label, Prikosnovenie where they released their self-titled album as their second work. Along with their own work they have also done a number of collaborations with musicians of similar styles such as their Love Sessions project with Louisa John Krol and Francesco (Gor, Ataraxia) and Lys.
With instruments like Lyre, Barbitos, Ancient Guitar, Pandoura and a number of other unique instruments with strange-sounding names, you can begin to imagine the ancient and authentic nature of their music. They combine these instruments with some modern elements of rock. The result is an old-world, ethereal masterpiece every time. Of course we can't forget the talents of all of the great musicians that create this music and the beautiful vocals from each of the vocalists. The core of the group consists of Spyros Giasafakis and Evi Stergiou. However, they always have a number of guests who perform and sing including Maria Stergiou, Baggelis Pashalides, Dafni Kotsiani and Hristos Koukaras.
In 2007 we were presented with their work titled Krataia Asterope where they continued to utilize their unique style of music. The DVD in 2011 was a nice treat and their newest album Psychostasia in 2013 keeps the great new music flowing.With each new work we're treated with something equally mesmerizing and interesting that fans of the various "fairy world" and "heavenly voices" music will love as they are a perfect fit for the Prikosnovenie label. Be sure to check them out as they play a number of live shows all over various parts of Europe.
Psychostasia - Review
After a long wait since their last full-length album six years ago, it's great to have another new work from this Greek band. The band has kept busy during this time with many live performances and fans have had the previously released DVD to enjoy as well during the wait. Now we have this album featuring ten new pieces featuring the great mixture of authentic, classic and medieval Greek instruments and musical styles.
Throughout the album we have a great mix of all that we've grown to love and enjoy from this band with their ritualistic styles and sounds. The album starts off with the somewhat ethereal and dreamy introductory piece "Zephyros's Enlightening Anemos" with soft female vocals layered over the instruments and deep male chanting. The sounds get heavier and more hypnotic chanting and the deep vocals taking a much more prominent role with heavy percussion pounding out the rhythms, keeping the music moving along. The siren-like vocals pierce the soundwaves floating above these heavy and deep textures giving the music an illustrious, enchanting sound. This festive sound is punctuated by the occasional softer pieces such as the instrumental interlude "Selene's Awakening Horos" which features non-lyrical vocals soaring over the other instruments, various acoustic guitars, lyre's and percussion creating a spellbinding soundtrack piece you might find in your favorite movie. The softer dreamy sounds continue on "Politeia of the Unnamed" with the angelic female vocals taking the lead, luring and entrancing the listener in the soft, beautiful web of soaring vocals.
This pattern of mixing a couple of festive and fun tracks with the occasional dreamy, ethereal piece in between is a great combination. It keeps the album interesting and fun, while very much accessible to fans of various styles and tastes though definitely focusing on the medieval Greek styles. At the mid-way point the tempo picks back up with the excellent upbeat song "Deo's Erotas" which features multiple layers of soaring vocals, while most are just ooohhs and ahhs, toward the end lyrics are included creating a really nice and fun piece. A couple of softer pieces continue the album with a definite favorite on the album including "Enchanting Oneiro" which is appropriately named due to it's absolutely enchanting nature with the angelic vocals and somber rhythm and beautiful backing music. The album wraps up with the title track, another fairly upbeat piece that gives way to the whispers and plucking strings of "Hypnos" to wrap up the album with somber, hypnotic, ritualistic moods.
Fans of this band will love this great new album and for those just discovering this band, if you enjoy the more ethnic, mid-eastern sounds of Dead Can Dance, Rajna and other similar to those styles, this should be another favorite that fits well within that realm, even featuring guest percussionist Peter Ulrich as well as a number of other guest musicians and contributors. This album is definitely worth picking up and adding to your collection.
La Nuit des Fees - DVD - Review
This beautifully packaged DVD comes to us from the fairywold masters Prikosnovenie themselves. It's presented in a beautiful digipack DVD case that opens up revealing the titles and contents of each chapter along with photos of the three different groups that appear on the DVD. These include Daemonia Nymphe, the main protagonists of the DVD along with special guests Corde Oblique and Djaima. It is all put together so you can view any single performance, or view the entire show with clips of the festivities before the concerts.
I have to really commend those who came up with the concept and layout not only of the physical packaging, but also the mixing and format of the DVD. So often with live performances the sound is diminished drastically, but the mastering of this concert and festival is excellent. I really enjoyed watching it from start to finish, enabling the viewer to be placed right in the midst of the festivities, showing the various performers and artists vending their wares and goodies, also showing their various talents in other ways besides just the musical performances at night.
Of course the main content of the DVD includes the live performances of these groups. Djaima has the shortest performance and comes at the end of the DVD with two live tracks. These are two fun tracks showcasing her talented vocals and violin abilities. Corde Oblique also give a short performance featuring six pieces that fit perfectly with the overall mood and content of the "night of the fairies". Daemonia Nymphe are the main performers and feature eleven of their popular tracks from their past releases. The live performance captured on this DVD of this band as well as the others is excellent. They not only give a great performance, but the sound and video capture the mood and magical atmosphere very well. Without being there myself I have nothing to compare with except possibly other live performances that I've seen that are similar in mood. With that to compare to, the quality makes it as if the viewer is sitting there live enjoying the show and festivities.
Along with the live performances and festival clips the highlight for me is the video clip of one of my favorite tracks from this dynamic group "The Divine Goddess of Fertility". Once again the music is excellent and the video they made matches well and is a great production. It would have been nice to have a few more clips like these, as much as I enjoy a live performance, the creativity included in these video clips are so enjoyable. Overall another masterpiece from these experts on the fairyworld and their related artists. It's released in limited numbers, so hurry and pick it up direct from the label!
Krataia Asterope - Review
Having only discovered this band in the last couple of years and really beginning to enjoy their music (along with work as Love Sessions), it is great to have a new album so soon after discovering them. After discovering their music I went back and picked up some of their previously released works and have been enjoying it immensely and so I'm happy to say that the band stays true to their style on this album which is presented with eleven stunning tracks that take you back to an ancient world that is uplifting, captivating and haunting at the same time.
I think the underlying unique musical arrangements provide the foundation for their music on this disc as well as their previous works. This is evident in the use of the heavy percussion and various ancient instruments across nearly every track. However, the really captivating quality lies in the excellent vocal arrangements mixing deep male and angelic female vocals in smal choral arrangements and haunting solos. The choral arrangements stand out brilliantly in the track "Krataia Asterope" as the music fades into the background and the voices take over. To a lesser degree this stands out on other pieces, but on pieces like "Nocturnal Hekate" when the deep male voice begins and then gives way to the choral vocals with the angelic solo floating over it all, it becomes absolutely dreamy.
When I first listened to the album, I recognized the previously released tracks "Divine Goddess of Fertility" and "Sirens of Ulysses" from a couple of label compilations. These tracks have that angelic, fairy world quality to them with the haunting angelic choirs and since they were recognizable, they also stood out as favorites on this disc. But I soon discovered that maybe while other tracks weren't quite as angelic, they all stood out as excellent pieces. In similar fashion "Mouson" brings out more of those lovely female vocals over the anchor of the male voice.
This is an excellent album and one that fans should definitely pick up. Music is a universal language and though you may not understand the text and lyrics, the underlying message is one of beauty and powerful emotions that span the divide of the language barrier. After eleven tracks the listener is left more relaxed and at peace than before and ready to go on with life recognizing the surrounding beauty that the music brings out. Go pick up this album!