Moneda is proud to present its inaugural record release: a vinyl edition of Cypriot composer Evagoras Karageorgis’ KENTHMATA (Embroideries). This is arguably the first electronic music album by a Cypriot composer.
Evagoras Karageorgis was born in 1957 in Tsada, a village in the district of Pafos, Cyprus in a family of musicians and instrumentalists, which exposed him early on to traditional Cypriot music. Having learned various instruments he decided to pursue Composition studies at Queen’s College (CUNY). Between his studies and working as a musician in Astoria, Queens, he also composed KENTHMATA. Firstly, between February 1987-88 at his home studio and then rerecorded between August-September 1988 at Harmonic Ranch Studio, the album was kept mostly secret until it was self-released 30 years later, in 2017, on CD.
There are many reasons why KENTHMATA never received the attention it deserved, despite the fact that Karageorgis went on to distinguish himself as a pioneer of Cypriot new music by—amongst other things—being one of the few songwriters to use the Cypriot dialect in his work. These range from the personal circumstances of the composer, to the historical and cultural conditions that defined, and continue to define, the relationship between the so-called ‘center’ and ‘peripheries’ of artistic production.
Rather than getting into the specifics of the already contested, and overly-debated, historical narratives that have reduced modern Cyprus, and its culture, to a limited set of interpretation; or giving in to the industry’s “revivalist” temptation of repressing as a way of rectifying said narratives, we have chosen instead to look at the re-release of KENTHMATA as a new work in its own right. A work that oscillates, between its time of production and the time of its revival, weaving together past and present, myth and fact. It is still as relevant as it was then and we hope for many years to come.
Unapologetically minimalist, Karageorgis makes extensive use of the looping techniques he first encountered in New York — much like the ones in the works of Steve Reich and Philip Glass — while remaining deeply rooted in the Mediterranean colorspace of his birthplace. For example, in the 7/8 signature of Hellispontos with its ecstatic rhythm, Karageorgis recalls being inspired by a Pontian dancer for whom he used to perform with a band in Astoria, Queens, one of the major landing points of the post-war Greek diaspora. In juxtaposition, Moiroloyia (the title means ‘lament’ in Greek), which is inspired by a Cypriot folk song, tells the story of a mother that mourns the loss of her son who perished abroad and never returned home. These examples serve as extremes that capture the overall tension in the album: that of a young Cypriot composer in New York City deeply affected by the 1974 war, which tore his home country apart, confronted with the new and exciting possibilities that electronic sound and sequencing had to offer, but with little — if any — audience to validate his work.
From the perspective of Cyprus, to say that KENTHMATA was ahead of its time would be an understatement. The instruments used — at times rudimental digital presets and signature sounds from the heydays of FM Synthesis and sampling — have to say much more than what initially meets the ear. Perhaps the beginning of Cypriot electronic music could have only taken shape in the way KENTHMATA did: somewhere abroad, in a studio that carried the technology for composing in isolation, leading to mechanical repetition and by reinterpreting the tropes of traditional Greek dance and Cypriot folk songs while dreaming about home. As Karageorgis himself recounts, the repetitive technique and melodies of KENTHMATA reminded him of his mother’s embroideries.
It comes as no surprise, then, that Karageorgis’ title of choice for the album alludes to the repetitive, pointillist moves that a work of embroidery is made of. One only needs to step back to see and appreciate the bigger picture that KENTHMATA is.
released May 1, 2020
Composed and arranged by Evagoras Karageorgis.
Re-mastered by Marco Spaventi (Tracks 1-10)
Embroidery design by Nefeli Papadaniel-Karageorgis
Design by Charlotte Taillet and Joel Colover
Original embroidery screen printed at Kimonos Art Center
Art direction: Emiddio Vasquez