Reclusive songwriter back in the spotlight

The long-vanished composer Lena Platonos, whose pioneering series of pop and electronic albums from the late 70s and 80s established her as a unique musical figure on the domestic front, is active again after years of withdrawal. As part of her escalating level of activity, Platonos will perform a show tomorrow at the Pallas Theater to feature her 1981 debut album «Sabotage,» nowadays considered a modern classic that was ahead of its time, in its entirety. On board will be the project’s original singers, Savina Yannatou, the prolific vocal artist who went on to achieve international prominence, and Yannis Palamidas, a big-voiced singer who has remained far less active. Platonos, a reclusive figure in more recent times, first made an impact in the late 70s as a key songwriting contributor to «Edo Lilipoupoli,» a children’s radio series aired on state radio’s classical-oriented «Trito Programma.» She recently re-emerged with a new album titled «Imerologia,» or Diaries, her first in years, and followed up with shows at the capital’s Herod Atticus Theater and the Kyttaro club. The idea to present «Sabotage» came up during discussion last year with Palamidas and other friends. «We all came up with the idea for a show at the Pallas that would feature ‘Sabotage.’ The ideal thing would have been to have the album sung by both its main characters,» said Platonos. «I mean singers but I call them main characters because, in my eyes, this album still seems like a film to me.» Platonos expressed delight about the reunion. «It’s very touching that we’re all getting back together for this,» the songwriter remarked. «After many years, I came across Savina, whom I met at school, at an art exhibit. It was as if we had never parted. I told her my plan and she accepted immediately.» Platonos, a wondergirl musician whose father was a music teacher, showed signs of talent early on. She won a national music award as an early teenager, was granted scholarships and studied in Athens and Vienna. In retrospect, the demands did weigh on her, she admitted. «Definitely. But in those days, I had an ability to combine burden with lightness. I didn’t study much, but learned easily,» she recalls.Artistically acclaimed but on the music fringe during her day, Platonos’s work is now being rediscovered by younger listeners in their 20s. She cited the discovery, during her youth, of Surrealism and the hippy movement as influences, along with composers such as Chopin, Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Johannes Brahms, Ludwig van Beethoven and Johann Sebastian Bach. Asked why her album «Sabotage» is appealing to a new generation of listeners, Platonos noted: «It doesn’t follow any mainstream rules. Neither then nor now. But none of the music I make conforms to such regulations. I’m disobedient. Perhaps that’s what wins over the youngsters. I follow their reactions on MySpace, the Internet. It provides me with a picture about them. But I was at a loss when they all turned up for the shows last year.» Offering her views on the contemporary Greek scene, Platonos described it as one of «very low standard.» «Yannis Aggelakas is a rather interesting case, Thanassis Papakonstantinou has provided examples of a different approach to songwriting, and there’s Socrates Malamas, too. Alkinoos Ioannidis is good. He has quality… but lacks an approach with a difference. It’s like listening to a more classical-sounding Manos Hadjidakis,» she noted. Platonos is presently also working on a new album, to be based on poetry by Constantine P. Cavafy. «I’m currently writing music based on Cavafy. God willing, it will be released in May. Record labels have already asked to release it. But there’s a new label run by friends of mine and I feel closer to that,» said Platonos. October 20, Pallas Theater, 5 Voukourestiou, Syntagma, Athens, 25-90 euros. Tickets on sale at the venue, and at 210.810.8181.