Rebetiko is haunted with stories of sailors and convicts, tearful love affairs and haschish dreams, cheeky hints and exile without return. This proteiform music style came about in the early 20th century in the often-infamous cafés of Greek and Turkish port towns.
It is a fascinating repertoire, somewhere between sentimental song, social protest and Eastern poetry. A Greek singer living in Marseille and a member of the musical band Oneira, Maria Simoglou has chosen thirteen rebetiko pieces that she especially cherishes.
Backed up by musicians of her generation –Stratis Pasaradellis on lyra, lafta and saz, Periklis Papapetropoulos on lafta and saz, Harris Lambrakis on the ney flute, Stephanos Dorbarakison the kanun zither and Kostas Meretakis on percussion– she has sought to really recreate these tunes. From the acoustic sound of traditional instruments, new arrangements draw timeless accents that perfectly befit this restless music that cannot be reduced to any kind of framework, whether historical (rebetiko has never ceased to be played and sung) or geographical (on the Eastern Mediterranean shores, ports tend to come and go).
A whole world is revived with precision and instrumental subtelty: a profuse world, at the same time coarse and oneiric, full of ambiguity and innuendo, seduction and mischief.