Shantel // Viva Diaspora!
Catalogue-Nr.: AY CD 37 (EAN 4250536400287)
Release date: 11.09.2015
“Cosmopolitan, globetrotter, paprika bambaataa, constantly in search of new sounds: Shantel has form when it comes to turning pop cultural clichés and conventionally accepted genre definitions upside down. When he then goes on, with his Bucovina Club Orkestar, to bring the entire stage to life, moulding global sounds into compact, anarchic hymns, eclecticism and escapism no longer seem so very far apart. No worries: The Kiez is Alright. Disko Devil Shantel is on the case.” Remy Kolpa Kopoul
The new studio album Viva Diaspora is strongly inspired by the creative anarchy of crisis-ridden Athens. Viva Diaspora has no intention of jumping onto the current crossover / remix bandwagon. Viva Diaspora is bold, risky and self-assured: this is how acoustic, traditional and Mediterranean songs sound today and this is how they can come into their own in a contemporary party context. Viva Diaspora is an album that sounds like a road movie – cinema for the ears! A 24-hour trip stopping off at Athens – Frankfurt – Paris - (Kingston) – Brooklyn – Istanbul.
Athens Spring 2015
For the past couple of years, Shantel has been commuting between his home base in Frankfurt and his newly adopted home of Athens to meet like-minded people, make music, and experiment.
“Shantel is the only one who is able to bring traditional music into the modern age without messing up catastrophically.” Areti Ketime When you’ve been on the go for 24 hours, the day starts contemplatively; myriad finely chirping sounds of kanun, tzsouras, cümbüs and saz are in the air, and in the ear. EastWest – Dysi ki Anatoli (EastWest – With a Little Spice of Orient, the first single on the album) – the ethereal voice of Areti Ketime soars, and burrows deep into our auditory senses. The sound is clear – it is a greeting sent far beyond the boundaries of Greece and Turkey towards the Orient. Areti sang as a teenager at the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Athens, seen and heard on TV by millions of viewers. In Athens, two artists meet as equals and find common cause. Shantel and Areti share a love of rembetiko in its original form: the Smyrna sound of Asia Minor’s lost metropolis forges a natural bridge between East and West, Orient and Occident. Rembetiko, the disparaged Blues of the Greek underdogs and wastrels, has always fascinated Shantel. Although rembetiko was banned by the government and its musicians thrown into jail, it survived as the sound of protest against the Greek military dictatorship.
Later in the morning, it is time to seek fortification in a kafenion. Shantel meets up with the crème de la crème of Athens’ session musicians. The groove is mid-tempo, the tone of the instruments Byzantine or Levantine, sprinkled with HipHop beats. They agree to go into the studio later and put their ideas down on tape. But first comes lunch with Greek electronica pioneer Imam Baildi. In Athens, at the eye of a financial storm threatening to engulf all the people and their values, Shantel discovered a new generation of musicians and producers who have long since opted out of the established system and have nothing but derision and disdain for the nepotistic network of the old “stars”. As with the Frankfurt Bucovina Club sound, there is a marriage of analogue, digital, traditional and avant-garde. Young artists such as Imam Baildi are on board, asking about Shantel’s production possibilities and agreeing to work together.
Afternoon / Recording Session Sierra Studios
In the afternoon, Shantel meets up with the most in-demand musicians of the trad scene at the legendary Sierra Studios (50Cent are working in the studio next door). The studios were fitted out with the latest analogue technology in the 1970s and are still in their original state. In the Athens studio, Shantel gathers 25 more musicians to join Areti Ketime – all of them playing important traditional Greek instruments. EastWest - Dysi ki Anatoli has a Byzantine-Oriental sound that goes to the very roots of Greek music and still remains danceable. Shantel manages with consummate ease to build a bridge between Greece, the Middle East and the rest of Europe. Electronic sounds and diverse musical textures flirt and combine in a light and springy song with the occasional blast of brass, The polyphonic line-up Shantel has brought together combines traditional instruments such as oud, tzsouras, baglama and cümbüs with a Fender Mustang, an accordion, clarinets, ney flute and a raft of stringed instruments such as politiki lyra and kemence, as well as Oriental zithers such as santur and kanun, plus a laptop and a Linn drum machine. Sweet bouzouki tones are replaced by the Fender Mustang E-guitar, expanding the palette of diverse Oriental sounds. What we hear is a sound that could come from anywhere between Athens and Beirut, and a line-up tailor-made for the Berlin to Baghdad party train.
Evening / Somewhere in Exarchia
Exarchia, or as the locals call it, Anarchia, is the secret hub of the Athens scene. It is a neighbourhood teeming with students, graffiti artists, anarchists, bohemians, instrument makers, eco-oil producers, diy-shops and clubs. In short, a subcultural mix that reminds Shantel of the wilder side of Frankfurt’s Bahnhofsviertel – but more on that later … Unlike so many of Europe’s in-cities, Athens has not yet been gentrified. This is still a city with contrasting areas, many of which have been used very creatively of late. The city’s youngsters are left to their own devices, living on the breadline and inspired by a can-do spirit.
Midnight / Frankfurt Bahnhofsviertel
“Frankfurt has always been the city of good taste, creativity and international solidarity…” Gilles Peterson at the Lissania Essay Club 1994. All on board for the flight to Frankfurt, touchdown in the Bahnhofsviertel, where it all began 30years ago. The Disko Devil turns up the volume again and meets his friends from the Frankfurt reggae scene, to find out up close and live what should be recorded later in the scene’s Babylon Central Studio. Frankfurt is the launchpad for his worldwide travels. It is the most international and currently the fastest growing city in Germany. Internationality was always writ large here – whether in trade and commerce or in living side by side with immigrants: after WW2, more than 60,000 American GIs were stationed in Frankfurt. Today, the city has the highest proportion of foreign residents in Germany. It was in the legendary Bahnhofsviertel district of Frankfurt that Shantel began his musical career – as eclectic then as it is now. He played in the Greek subculture rembetiko band Prosechòs, recorded an album with them and toured Europe with them in 1987. At the same time, he opened the legendary illegal underground club Lissania Essay, organised the first Frankfurt gigs by MC Solaar, Dee-Lite, Jamiroquai, Gilles Peterson and Kruder & Dorfmeister, produced his own music for the then top label K7!, founded his own label (Essay Recordings) and made a name for himself throughout Europe as an impresario and DJ with an adventurous mix of music. After the party in Frankfurt, it was time to jump in the R4 and head for an after-party in Paris or Berlin… What emerged in the shadow of Frankfurt’s banking skyscrapers, in the cauldron of a mostly migrant population of junkies, entertainers, sex workers, artists, freaks and night owls, was a powerful mix that fuelled a creative spirit. Shantel was not just a pioneer, but also the leading promoter of a neighbourhood that is now hailed in major articles and reports – including even the New York Times – as one of the world’s top 50 “places to be!”
Early Morning / Afterhour in Paris
„Shantel enchants clubs and concert halls, burns the palaces in the very best sense. His intuition is legend. He knows how to read the dancefloor: a maximum of 3 songs – and the dancefloor is on fire.“ Tony Allen (Damon Albarn, Agrobeat) By now, Shantel is on a roll and decides on the spur of the moment to follow his early 90s songlines by driving to Paris in an R4 – just as he used to do. The journey is soothing, because he is looking forward to having breakfast at Sacha Finkelsztajn’s Boutique Jaune in the rue des Rosiers, in the Marais district. Matseleh, Bagels, Strudel, washed down with strong cardamom-spiced coffee. Paris: this was where Shantel studied graphic design and made his mark as a DJ in the 90s. Today, Parisians can’t wait to hear him with his Bucovina Club Orkestar, and he plays at every must-do festival in this music-loving land.
Afternoon / Brooklyn (New York)
“This should be a fun album! I'm excited to hear what this sounds like as a full album - the songs are well produced and the vocals are really great. I like the combination of genres throughout the record. I've played music with a local Reggae band, and I'm feeling some similar influences with your music.” Scott Hull (Masterdisk)
Time to catch a plane to Brooklyn (NY) – direct,
without stopping in Kingston, even though reggae beats and reggae
melodies have been the soundtrack of his life. Waiting for him at
Katz’s Delicatessen is not only Scott Hull of Masterdisk, but
also the world’s best pastrami sandwiches, very special
Frankfurters and ice-cold lager. The conversation with Scott focuses on
the question of how the mastering process can achieve the right balance
between acoustic production and instruments as well as subtly
introduced digital technology and electronic sounds. It is, after all,
one of the hallmarks of Shantel’s music that he never rides
roughshod through the sensitive interplay of (acoustic)
Scott Hull (Bob Dylan, Sting, Donald Fagen, Sharon Jones,…) is and absolute master of his craft. “Scott Hull is the only person I know who can improve on perfection.” John Zorn
Reggae – the Kingston Brooklyn Connection: Jamaican DJ Kool Herc is the founding pioneer of HipHop culture, which blazed a trail in the 70s from the Bronx, then throughout New York and across the country, until it engulfed the entire globe. Brooklyn was the birthplace of the first internationally successful rapping crew (Beastie Boys) and the fusion of Reggae and House (Bobby Konders).
Night / Back to Europe
“I like it…back to the old formula. Lots of spice. I like it…” Ahmet Ulug (Babylon Mastermind)
With not much time to spare in New York, a little power nap is needed on the flight. After all, the legendary Babylon Club in Istanbul – one of the hottest and most atmospheric places in town – is already waiting for the Disko Devil who has been playing there for more than 10 years. This is where the circle closes – the circle of a production that Shantel regards as a homage to the youth of southern Europe. Its battle cry, when everything goes pear-shaped is: “The crisis sounds sexy!”
The two questions Shantel put at the centre of his work on Viva Diaspora were: “how do I capture the sound as precisely and acoustically as possible?” And “how do I create a new, international, pan-European, contemporary sound for the music I loved as a child?” The album is proof of Shantel’s intense reception and processing of tradition – be it the instruments, the vocal forms, the rhythms or keys – and the contemporaneity of his approach: there is nothing ingratiating, stale or historic about it. The music surfs smoothly between the worlds, unleashing a whole new energy. Viva, Viva Diaspora!
Website of the artist: www.bucovina.de