Greek electronic music legend Lena Platonos returns to Dark Entries with Balancers, an LP of previously unreleased material recorded between 1982-1985. Athens-based Platonos has worked with the label previously to reissue her three solo LPs – Gallop, Sun Masks, and Lepidoptera – as well as to release three accompanying 12” EPs featuring modern remixes of her work. She is renowned for her forays into cutting-edge electronic experimentation as well as her striking, impressionistic poetry and lyrics, always recited in Greek.
The twelve tracks on Balancers reveal a murkier side of Lena, one draped in tenebrous washes and oneiric utterances. Ragged analog rhythms feature on several tracks, even breaking into a brooding electro groove on “A Cat in the Corner”, but the predominant tone is sparse and somber. Mournful instrumental “Phaethon” swells to mythological proportions, while “In September” feels small enough to fit in your pocket. Lena’s poetry sits amidst lush pads and Radiophonic Workshop-esque squiggles, her voice setting an intimate tone in the shifting electronic sea. Inspiration is drawn from Greek mythology and architecture, and lyrics evoke a soft sorrow, an ambivalence towards love, life, and the passage of time. Although the material here spans 3 years and features a range of recording fidelities and synthesis techniques, the collection possesses the heft of a singular artist’s vision.
Balancers was remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. Eloise Leigh designed the sleeve, which features a doubled Lena in washed-out burgundy hues, channeling the femininity and mystery of the album. Also included is an insert with lyrics in both Greek and English.
On November 19th Gomma records’ new offshoot imprint Kryptox presents ‘Nanodiamond’ – the enchanting album by Athenian harpist, singer, electronic alchemist and star-in-waiting Sissi Rada. It features co-production by Brian Eno and Andi Toma of Mouse on Mars, with guest vocals from cult Greek heroine Lena Platonos.
Abstract and experimental but not difficult, instead the record is a friendly good trip, like a strage but pleasant dream, or an endorphin-fuelled flight through the cosmos. This treasure trove of glowing Aegean beauty entices listeners to luxuriate in its balmy georgeousness, where rich vocals reverberate inside sparkling, jewel-encrusted grottos of sound.
Although standout and singular, Rada’s unclassifiable leftfield songs bring to mind the likes of Kate Bush, Van Dyke Parks, ‘Kid A’ era Radiohead, Katie Gately and Georgia’s ‘All Kind Music’. Atmospherically, there’s a kinship with Coil, Karen Gwyer and Deux Filles, whilst her magical harp draws contemporary links to Mary Lattimore and Brandee Younger, plus historical nods to Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane.
In addition to making weird-and-wonderful works such as this, Sissi is also one of the best classical harpists in Europe. She is a member of the New York Times endorsed Teodor Currentzis’ musicAeterna orchestra, and frequently collaborates with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
Sissi combines skills in writing that only musicians with huge knowledge and compositional ability have, with an intuitive approach to electronics that’s creative, but not technically advanced. She incorporates lo-fi, noisy textures, random samples and raw sound design, which, when combined with her voice and instrument, merge and become sumptuous.
The melodic, harmonic and sonic concepts of ‘Nanodiamond’ are routed in an impressionistic heritage which is a favorite of her’s (and many of the great Russian classical composers too). Like impressionist paintings, this is based on eschewing exactitude, and instead using unconventional techniques to capture a feeling.
Rada met Brian Eno while both were working in Paris for the world premiere of Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s ambitious film / installation project, ‘DAU’. They ended up performing together at a late-night impromptu show, involving Eno and members of Orchestra MusicAeterna, at Théâtre de la Ville. He liked what Sissi did and invited her to his studio. Their collaboration on album track ‘81948 (2000 OM69)’ “just happened”, when she began improvising on one of his keyboards.
Sissi was born in Athens, studied in Amsterdam and Berlin (at Universität der Künste), and has since lived in Berlin, where she met Andi Thoma in the city’s fertile underground scene.
A1) ‘Karaburun Peninsula’ A2) ‘Athena’ A3) ‘Nanodiamond’A4) ‘Maps’ featuring Lena Platonos (produced by Andi Toma) A5) ‘Ichthys’ A6) ‘Pyrametron’ A7) ‘Debris’B1) ‘Too La’ B2) ‘Φ ‘B3) ‘81948 (2000 OM69)’ (produced by Brian Eno) B4) ‘Blueblack Tomb’ (produced by Andi Toma) B5) ‘Sorrow’ B6) ‘Elegierig’
For several months, filmmaker, art director and teacher Diego Barrera has been creating this official video for Lena Platonos, pioneer in the experimentation with synthesizers in Greece, and angular stone in the New Wave scene since the 80s.
This videoclip is born as a celebration of the success that is gaining this reissue of her cult album “Gallop” under the carefully selected curatory of the record label “Dark Entries”, considered as a jewell for the synth-pop pickers.
“This piece is born as the continuation of my studies in the so-called androgynization rites, rites of symbolic offering of “masculinity” that operate in the abstract, such as the offering of milk in streams, the rite of the Hijras in India.
The endless pursuit of the Alchemical Androgyne, the return of the unity of the forces, the original androgyny, a bio-man walks a journey into the moist, feminine principle, through the mercurial waters – spiritual and purification waters.
After the unity, the origin, comes the division, the duality in which we are immersed, the phallus supporters, of the male, do not understand the coexistence of these forces.
Let’s drive the male element towards the sacred womb.” – DIEGO BARRERA
Dark Entries Records:
“Lena Platonos is a pioneer of the Greek electronic music scene of the 1980s. She produced and released her second solo album, ‘Gallop’, in 1985 that we reissued in 2015. The album is made exclusively using analog synthesizers and heavily features the iconic Roland TR-808 drum machine. Lena narrates each song, reciting her own surreal Greek poetry with unique skill. Lena says of ‘Gallop’, “It’s a study in the mythology of urban population of the contemporary metropolis and also a gaze into the future life of it.”
We’ve asked Red Axes to chose their four favorite songs from ‘Gallop’ and create remixes for each one. Red Axes is Tel-Aviv based producers and DJs Dori Sadovnik and Niv Arzi, releasing their own productions and remixes since 2009 on I’m a Cliché, Correspondant and Hivern Discs. The duo was raised on a steady diet of post-punk, new-wave and Italo-disco at fogged out warehouse and basement parties. They’ve transform “Witches” and “And We Hear “I Love You”” into solid dancefloor tools. “No. 9” and “Liqueur Ruby” transport the listener to a hypnotic state tripped out in a psychedelic mist, with the latter featuring middle eastern rhythms by fellow Tel Aviv musicians The Dirty Lizards.
All songs have been mastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. The jacket riffs off the original ‘Gallop’ cover, isolating the photograph of Lena layered on a grid backdrop designed by Eloise Leigh. Each copy includes a two-sided postcard with a manipulated frame from one of Lena’s music videos.”