Trio Tekke & Dave De Rose Zivo
Artist release (www.triotekke.com)
Review by Lee Blackstone
"Look, it's dawning"
Zivo is Trio Tekke's third outing, The original trio of Antonis Antoniou (vocals, electronics, and tzouras - akin to the bouzouki), Lefteris Moumtzis (vocals and guitars), and Colin Somervell (double and electric bass, and baritone guitar) are joined by drummer Dave De Rose. Antonis Antoniou is also a member of the superb Cypriot band Monsieur Doumani, and Moumtzis likewise hails from Cyprus. Somervell is Anglo-Chilean, and De Rose has worked with such acts as Moloko (electronica), and malian artist Rokia Traoré. The band's line-up is diverse, and Trio Tekke's sound is no less eclectic.
Trio Tekke describes their music as “Reggetika”: rooted in rebetiko, the urban Greek music that has been the voice of the people and of the underclass and outlaws, and often liked to a Byzantine blues. Trio Tekke uses rebetiko as a foundation, onto which other musical influences are added – American jazz, Latin music, reggae, and psychedelia all find themselves blended into Trio Tekke's original sound. The first two Trio Tekke albums reworked rebetika classics in quirky ways, alongside a smattering of original compositions; on Zivo, the band stretches out with their self-penned material.
Zivo features many highlights. “Crazy birds” leads off the album; a paean to marijuana (“Roll another…So we are lifted from the earth like crazy birds”), the tune is far jauntier than one might expect for a cannabis anthem, as it steams into acoustic, Aegean punk. “Look, It's Dawning” veers along a call-and-response vocal, the tune undulating like returning bar patrons weaving their way on abandoned streets. “Cumbet” is an instrumental that combines Rebetiko and cumbia rhythms, with light electronic flourishes in a nod towards spacious dub. The song “Within Love” is every inch what would have happened had XTC re-envisioned rebetiko, with its off-kilter rhythm, scratching guitar, and swooping vocals. “Stray” is particularly catchy, a funky romp burning with self-assertion: “I will become a black rider, I will neigh to the lightning/Dog and wolf and lion, at night, I will bark in the forests.”
The thematic ties to traditional rebetiko are strong, and Trio Tekke tackles the timeless themes of intoxication; temptation, love and crazy lovers; the nights that don't end; and, the dark night of the soul that goes on forever. But the band does not shy away from political statements: “The Ludicrous” excoriates the capitalist marketplace as an absurd show. “Syria” renders the heartbreak of that country's ongoing civil war with tender poetry that focuses on mundane details – forks on a plate; an abandoned child; the tension in the air that surrounds a kiss, or a bullet.
Each track on Zivo blazes with wild innovation, and the heady lyrics and rhythmic drive blew my socks off. Trio Tekke and Dave De Rose's fondness for tradition allow them to tweak out the eccentricities of the rebetiko style, while broadening the musical palette; the album is the band's barbaric yawp in the global village. – Lee Blackstone