After the sea, comes the harbor
After the sea, comes the harbor. Harbors are, for music, what pollen is for flowers. This is a record that contains "harbor music" for individual "indiscipline". Horses trying to be giraffes. It's a record played in Greek, because of the debt we all have with Greece, that gave to the world not only civilisation, but also one of the most interesting and passionate urban music: rebetiko. We release this record in the year of the Olympics to exercise rebellion and identity, to keep in shape the mangas that lives inside us. To remember to ourselves that we are original, which means we have an origin.
That we are men, not only consumers and we are not afraid to consume life.
(Vinicio Capossela, June 2012)
The new album by Vinicio Capossela is named «Rebetiko Gymnastas» and it has been released on 12th June 2012 in both Italy and Greece via La Cùpa/Warner; it features four unreleased songs, a ghost-track and eight famous songs written by Capossela but rearranged in the style of rebetiko.
The album has been recorded in the historical Sierra Studios in Athens on analogic tape with some of the greatest rebetiko musicians: Ntinos Chatziiordanou (accordeon), Vassilis Massalas (baglamas), Socratis Ganiaris (percussions) and Manolis Pappos, supreme rebete of bouzouki. The album features the singer Kaiti Ntali, Mauro Pagani, Marc Ribot and Ricardo Pereira as well. Along with them, there are Alessandro Asso Stefana (electric guitar) and Glauco Zuppiroli (double bass).
The cover drawing has been designed by the great French drawer David Prudhomme, who is the author of «Rebetiko. La mauvaise herbe». The booklet contains also the translated lyrics in Greek and some gym exercises for those who want to try them.
The four new songs in «Rebetiko Gymnastas» are «Rebetiko mou» (a rebetiko philosophy exercise), «Abbandonato» (a free interpretation in Italian of a song by Atahualpa Yopanqui), «Misirlou» (the most famous international hit of this genre, led to success in the electric guitar version that appears in the soundtrack of «Pulp Fiction») and eventually «Cancion de las simples cosas» (an Italian version of the heartbreaking song already known in the voices of Mercedes Sosa and Chavela Vargas). The ghost track is an Italian-Greek duet of the song «Come Prima» by Tony Dallara.
The eight songs coming from Capossela's repertoire, but played in the style of rebetiko, are «Gymnastika» (by Vladimir Vitsosky), «Contrada Chiavicone» (from Il Ballo di S. Vito), «Con una rosa» (from Canzoni a manovella), «Non è l’amore che va via» (from Camera a Sud), «Contratto per Karelias» (from Canzoni a manovella), «Corre il Soldato» (from Canzoni a manovella), «Signora Luna» (from Canzoni a manovella), «Morna» (from Il Ballo di S. Vito) and «Scivola vai via» (from All’una e trentacinque circa).
A trip to Greece in 1998 is the occasion for Vinicio Capossela to get to know a kind of music that has its roots in 1920s European history, rebetiko. Here started an artistic and musical adventure that had its happy ending in 2007, when Capossela recorded in Athens with some of the greatest rebetiko musician of contemporary age. For five years, however, the album was kept hidden, so as to let Capossela focus on his «Marinai, profeti e balene», an album whose main theme was the sea, and so it anticipated «Rebetiko Gymnastas» as its main themes are the return, the conquest of mainland.
So, in 2012, the album has been reconsidered and its release matches with the worst crisis that the Greek people has ever experienced, making them feel something that seemed forgotten, but that was the same of 1920s, when rebetiko was born. Actually, this kind of music prospers in bad economical and social conditions, as the current ones; unemployment in Greece, in 2012, reached 20% and kids started suffering of denutrition.
«Rebetiko Gymnastas», a wordplay with a song of Russian poet Vladimir Vysotsky, is the title of Capossela's last work and the reference to gym is not accidental: the earliest forms of this sport go back to Ancient Greece, so it is important for a rebete (symbol of rebetiko) to do a kind of mental gym so as to go through pain and suffering head-on, in the name of small everyday pleasures.
Rebetiko is, eventually, an excuse to involve other kinds of music that are linked to existence, that Capossela loves calling «absence music»: he has already experienced many of them, for instance morna (Cabo Verde), Argentinian tango, Balkan music. Now, it is the moment of Greece and of its most fascinating musical expression: rebetiko.