CULTURE

K. Vita, pushing boundaries, making connections

Local electronica pioneer Konstantinos Vita is set to perform his trademark brand of shoe-gazing, knob-twiddling musings at the Gagarin 205 venue (205 Liosion, tel 6944.814.543) on Saturday, February 12.

Melbourne-born Vita burst onto the then-stagnant domestic circuit in the early 1990s as founder and frontman of Stereo Nova — a truly groundbreaking act that, with five albums over a relatively brief spell of five years, went on to experiment with techno, ambient and trip-hop. Vita’s melancholy Greek lyrics, pouring out in streams of poetic and distinctively impressionistic words, expressed the alternative Zeitgeist of the working-class western suburbs of Athens in the 1990s: love, violence, repression, fringe identities, neglected suburbs, a consumer-driven society.

The disintegration of the band in 1997 spurred a solo career that has steadily produced critically acclaimed — albeit less political — releases, including «Transformations,» a bold take on music by late giant Manos Hatzidakis in 2003 and the score to choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou’s 2007 blockbuster production «2» at the Pallas Theater.

Vita, who studied painting and the history of art in Melbourne before attending graphic design classes in Athens, has also made music for documentaries, films and theater. A few months ago, he published his first book. «Tha diaschiseis ena proino ton kosmo» (One Morning You Will Cross the World), whose title is drawn from one of his most inspired moments while fronting Stereo Nova, is a collection of unedited lyrics, poems, photos and unpublished drawings spanning his 18-year career.

Saturday’s playlist for the Liosion Street venue is set to feature a heap of stuff from Vita’s previous works as well as previously unheard tracks taken from his recently released album «Enosi.» The album’s title means «connection,» and builds on Vita’s recent departure from the dark soundscapes of yesteryear to a more melodic approach — a trend bound to raise eyebrows among diehard Stereo Nova fans, but whose radio-friendliness have certainly made it easier for the artist’s songs to get airtime.

“The title was a fluke; it came to me as I was traveling on the train one day,» Vita said in a recent interview. «The word ‘connection’ came to me while I was observing my fellow travelers, absorbed in their thoughts, talking with each other or staring out the window. In some peculiar way, they all looked cut off from each other but, at the same time, connected.”

Vita’s solo work has seen him push boundaries and try things from different parts of the musical spectrum — some of which he himself would have found hard to believe back in the Stereo Nova years when he and fellow band member Mikael Delta (currently a successful solo act, DJ and producer) would make home recordings on Ampex reel-to-reel tapes and stage their first reluctant gigs at Kafe Parastasi, a cramped but atmospheric venue on Valtetsiou Street in the scruffy neighborhood of Exarchia in downtown Athens.

Collaborations over the past 10 years include veteran entechno singers Dimitra Galani and Tania Tsanaklidou, 1960s New Wave vocalist Popi Asteriadi and, more recently, the once-reclusive prog-rock composer Lena Platonos.

Fame has not gone to his head. The soft-spoken Vita, now 50, is still very much the boy from Melbourne, keeping his eyes on the ground. «I never thought that my life, the live of artists in general, is something special,» he said in an interview a few years back. «It is as boring and as important as that of anyone else. I am no different from the people who walk past me.”