CULTURE

Reminiscing about the pristine days of the past

Local fringe artist Kristi Stassinopoulou does not like the way certain aspects of the world are developing, or overdeveloping, as she implies in her latest album, «The Secrets of the Rocks,» her fourth. Despite her grievances, Stassinopoulou remains calm to express herself through a smooth musical reverie. A tastefully produced collection of ethereal pop songs flavored with mild sprinklings of electronica, psychedelia and Greek folk, Stassinopoulou’s new album nostalgically recalls a simpler, less abused world. The author of two books, including «Seven Times on Amorgos» («Efta Fores stin Amorgo,» Kastaniotis Press, 1993), a collection of short stories inspired by time spent on the island of Amorgos, Stassinopoulou has penned dream-like lyrics about waves, islands, whirlpools, free camping and summertime serenity for her latest album. She depicts lost treasures to protest at intensifying tourism development on the Aegean’s more offbeat islands. «Year by year, pristine beaches are being destroyed, one after the other. Roads are being constructed all the way to the sand, crassly-made rooms and bars are mushrooming next to the waves, and bad lighting is stopping the sky’s magical light from reaching the shore,» noted Stassinopoulou in an e-mail interview. «This album is based on a series of songs, lyrics and sounds that were written while living freely on empty beaches on the Cyclades and elsewhere.» Stassinopoulou, an amicable, outgoing character, has fewer complaints about her career’s development. In recent years, backed by songwriter and band member Stathis Kalyviotis for three albums together, Stassinopoulou has sparked considerable response for her work, particularly abroad, where appearances at various world music festivals have been frequent. Besides the festival invitations, her previous album, 2000’s «Echotropia,» impressed European critics, reaching number six for the year on the influential World Music Charts Europe (WMCE). The chart does not indicate album sales, but is compiled on the basis of votes cast by respected European radio producers. In the USA and Canada, «Echotropia,» which indicated the artist’s growing interest in fusing Greek folk with contemporary sounds, was released locally by Tinder Records, an independent label that specializes in the world music scene. She has remained peripheral, but seems unperturbed. «The mainstream’s standards, worldwide – not just in Greece – function on a foreign wavelength that proposes a particular style which is of no interest to me,» Stassinopoulou noted. As for audiences, too many avid Greek listeners, she added, remain «uninformed, indifferent, or even prejudiced to any alternative musical perspective expressed by Greek artists.» Just back from her latest show abroad, at the music industry’s annual trade fair, Womex, in Germany, Stassinopoulou is preparing a series of unconfirmed local dates. Then, she said, she’ll vanish to her favorite retreats before preparing for the next round of foreign shows. «We’re going to play at… two or three venues… in Athens and Thessaloniki, and right after that, until spring, when the festival season begins in central Europe and North America, we’re thinking of ‘appearing’ on the mountain tracks of mounts Olympus and Kissavos, or the empty – in the winter – but still-warm waters of Anafi and southern Crete.»