The Secrets of the Rocks (Hitch Hyke Music/USA:Tinder, 2003)
Greek multi-media artist Kristi Stassinopoulou possesses a limitless talent and a unique world-view. Kristi’s most recent release, The Secret of the Rocks features Kristi’s vocal and writing talents as well as, giving listeners a peek into her spiritual and mysterious world.
The artist published two books in the past, Seven Times in Amorgos (1993) and the mystery novel, The Fiery Sword (1995) along with a collection of CDs as a solo artist and member of the group Selana which she formed with her partner, Stathis Kalyviotis, another multi-talented musician.
The Secret of the Rocks revolves around ocean themes. Everything from seaweed, (Red Adders), the wind mentioned on various tracks, the moon, rocks, sand and mysterious elements surface in Kristi’s poetic lyrics. And in fact, this beautifully packaged CD combines poetry and music in a compelling fashion while reflecting on the life of beach bohemians who eschew television and perfume ads.
The music that appears on the CD marries Greek (rembetika) and Balkan folk roots with electronic and psychedelic pop-rock and its easy to see where a drug culture might be attracted to this ethereal music. And others such as myself also find the CD enjoyable. The music which in part is inspired by American and English psychedelic groups from the 1960′s such as Jefferson Airplane can also trace its roots back to Mediterranean, North African and Indian music in which influenced the psychedelic musicians from the past.
Kristi and Stathis create something fresh from their various influences while marrying the past with the future. Similar to their last North American release, Echotropia, Kristi treats her voice like a musical instrument. She whispers, narrates poetry and sings in various modes and scales. On the titular track, her raspy whispers hang lightly over percussion, drone and ambient guitar recalling early Cocteau Twins’ releases. On Waves, she utilizes the Greek scale and oriental modes. For the most part, her vocals embellish synthesizer-guitar-sample mixes, but on the tracks, Strong Wind Blockade, The Fates and Calima, saz (a Turkish pear-shaped string instrument), ney and bagpipes are introduced. And if you listen closely to the collage of instruments that appear on this CD, you will also hear accordion, lyre and various percussion instruments.
The groovy 70′s style Whirlpools with its jazzy guitar and provocative lyrics, “and if you hear the sirens scream at night, it’s my heart’s whirlpools that sigh,” is one of my favorite tracks. The other worldly, The Days Go By, the melancholic Calima with its desert images and the catchy R.E.M-esque verse-chorus-verse Summer Moon are also gems waiting to be unearthed and brushed of their sand.
Any artist that draws on the ocean and moon for inspiration will touch our souls. The Secret of the Rocks also delves into contemporary Greek mythology, nature spirits and the unknown without ever losing its musical footing. And it is one of those CDs that grabs a hold of your senses while transporting you into another time and place.