Lucid Culture


Annabouboula’s Immortal Water is Potent Stuff

“Annabouboula” translates roughly from the Greek as “cacaphony,” or in common usage, “brouhaha.” Immortal water is a powerful liquor. So does Annabouboula’s new album sound like a drunken brouhaha? Not really. But it’s definitely a party. The trio of multi-instrumentalists George Sempepos, Chris Lawrence, and chanteuse Anna Paidoussi date back to 1986 when they were signed to Virgin Records and quickly established themselves as one of the era’s most interesting, esoteric bands. They went dormant in the early 90s just as the world-funk sound they’d pioneered began to gain traction. Fast forward to 2010 and a new album: this one sounds sort of like the Middle Eastern version of Chicha Libre, surfy, wryly clever and psychedelic, with Greek lyrics sung powerfully and often hauntingly by Paidoussi.

The opening track, Hello Sailor, is a tour de force: a slinky, haunting levantine vamp contrasting with gently sensual vocals, layers and layers of lead guitar, eerily pointillistic qanun and swooshy string synthesizer. Lilly (The Scandalous Girl) sets the riff from the Smiths’ How Soon Is Now to a Bo Diddley beat, resulting in what sounds like Nancy Sinatra gone to the Mediterranean. There are two versions of the title track: the Brooklyn mix, matching bristling guitar to clubby synthesizer and synth bass textures, and the funkier Smyrna mix. Come Sit on My Sofa, with its Middle Eastern snakecharmer chromatics and acoustic guitar slashing through some oud voicings, evokes Sempepos’ brilliant/obscure Mediterranean surf band the Byzan-Tones.

The most straightforward rock song here is May Day: underneath the 80s textures, there’s a wickedly catchy surf tune threatening to rise up and drench everything in its path. What Do You Care Where I’m From takes a hypnotic turn into dub reggae; The Boat from Turkey slyly blends 80s guitar and synthesized organ textures into a deliciously weird psychedelic web. There’s also the Cretan Hop, which with its bagpipe guitar riffage sounds like Big Country in Greek, the stately, understatedly ominous If You See the Mountains Burning, and a playful, silly introduction to Greek rhythms for western audiences. Oh yeah, did we mention that this is an eclectic band? In lieu of a new album from Chicha Libre, this one will do just fine: look for it on our Best Albums of 2010 list in about a week.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | funk music, middle eastern music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment