Boomkat Product Review:
Who knew that Greek popular music had a real kink for Hawaiian steel guitar music since the 1920’s? Or that A. Kostis, the Rebetika legend behind Kaike Ena Sholio (A School Is Burned) and many more, was also the greatest exponent of that sound as leader of Kostas Bezos And The White Birds? Not us, that’s for sure, and this LP time capsule from Portland’s amazing Mississippi Records and Olvido Records is blowing our minds right now.
If we consider the connection between the guitar’s ancient arabic roots, and the way it mutated into lap steel and ukulele styles out in the middle of the Pacific during the 1800s before becoming absorbed into Greek middle class and popular music of the 1920’s, then Kostas Bezos And The White Birds pushes the concept of Greek folk music as a bridge between East and West to totally new, extreme degrees for any listener who has a taste for this sound unmatched by their knowledge of it provenance.
Effectively a playfully syncretic phenomena which even had its own genre name, Havagies, the sound recalls everything from Disney showtunes in the amazing opener The White Birds In The Mountains , to eerie early blues spirituals in Oh, Athens , but actually largely steers wide of the sorrowful Rebetika sound, aside from in the exquisitely moody instrumental pall of At Laïni’s Tavern , but it’s easy enough to hear the connective ligature of A. Kostis/Kostas Bezos’s wonderfully melodic turn-of-phrase tying it all together.