Mar 20, 2011

D. Charles Speer – Arghiledes (2011)

‘Arghiledes’ is a brilliant homage to Greek Rebetiko music of the early 20th century by No Neck Blues Band’s David Shuford aka D. Charles Speer. It’s his 2nd solo LP under this moniker and a deeply researched, beautifully executed effort replete with in depth sleeve notes and paste-on cover. Coming from a Blues playing American of Greek descent, the project reflects the syncretic nature of Rebetiko music, itself made up of the many disparate elements which formed Greek urban folk music (European music, Greek Orthodox ecclestiastical chant, Byzantine music and the modal traditions of Ottoman art music and café music) of this era. It was seen as the music of hashish dens and criminals, speaking of the underworld and its associated vices, but most importantly with this music, even if you don’t understand the lyrics, the achingly melancholy melodies and lyrical style of playing conveys a far stronger, longer lasting emotion. The most affecting, and evincing of these tracks are those which add something extra to typical Rembetika array of bouzouki, baglamas, mandolins, gudulka etc, like the sliver of droning synth in his rendition of the classic ‘Márko’s Cave’, the bouncing delay trails of ‘Lost Dervish’ or the stoned ghosts in the whisky ether of ‘Harmánis’. Fans of everything from Jack Rose to Honest Jon’s Middle Eastern missive will really appreciate this album.

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