Boomkat Product Review:
Kolida Babo is the collaboration between two Greek woodwind musicians from separate regions - Socratis Votskos is from Pella, and Harris P is from Athens. This, their debut album, was recorded in improvised live-take sessions beginning on the night of the “Kolida Babo” folk rituals of music and dance in northern Greece in winter 2013.
"The sessions proceeded over three years, exploring the ancient music of Armenia and the folk traditions of northern Greece’s Epirus and Thrace regions alongside abstract electronics and free jazz.
As musicians of modern Greece, the sonic palette is developed in part as a means of processing the country’s immediate actualities: its relation to its regional traditions, its urban centres and its humanitarian and economic crises. In this, the music is at once clearly located in traditional sounds and disjointed from them, at times contrasting or harmonious in both concept and sound.
The Armenian Duduk that anchors the project is a double-reeded woodwind instrument made of apricot wood with thousands of years of history and generations of venerable masters - the duo cite Djivan Gasparyan as a main influence, and Harris studied with Vahan Galstyan. Traditionally its music is played in duet: a melody on one duduk, a low drone accompaniment (“the dum”) on another. Kolida Babo preserves and extends the dual nature of duduk music in many ways, replacing the dum at times with the tones of a moog synthesizer to allow the two players to weave harmonies together in duet. And there is a persistent duality in the braid of Kolido Babo’s sonic associations - modern and ancient, local and global - sometimes underpinning one another, sometimes undermining. “Sometimes we mock modern times and sometimes the other way around”, they say - it’s a collision, or an engagement, romantic or pugilistic, and the sense is of an experiment without expectation, without preciousness or exoticism of folk culture.
The elements challenge each other and the listener - while the music is very much about texture and tone, the sounds aren’t clearly modern or ancient: it’s futile to identify, we’re reminded, and instead we experience the immediate presence and power of the combination. Influences include Armenian Folk music, Greek Rebetiko, German Kosmiche, Spiritual Jazz, the Fourth World Music of Brian Eno and John Hassell, British Trip Hop, Electrified West African Funk. But where these can be identified they are as sidelong journeymakers through the borderless idiolect belonging to the dialogue between the two players and enabling its free and full execution, subtle markers used to co-ordinate the collaboration.”