One size does not fit all
Cyprus together with Greece has suffered from the one-size-fits-all doctrinaire economic policies of the Troika - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But, as with the Greek island of Crete, creativity flourishes on Cyprus despite recent EU-imposed economic stringency. Cyprus is not noted for its music; in fact my ageing edition of the Rough Guide to World Music covering the Mediterranean makes no mention of Cyprus at all. Which gives totally the wrong impression as there is some exciting agitative new music coming from the island. One example is Monsieur Doumani, an acoustic trio of tzouras - a relative of the bouzouki - guitar and trombone/flute from Nicosia. This latter-day Incredible String Band mixes their traditional Cypriot roots with acerbic social commentary and a style that defies the one-size-fits-all mindset of the corporate music industry.
Below is a track from Monsieur Doumani's 2013 debut album Grippy Grappa. This was followed two years later by Sikoses, which was was nominated for the prestigious Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik 2015. To quote the band's website, their third album to be released this month has the symbolic name Angathin (thorn) and addresses more than ever, the political, social and activist concerns and sensitivities of the group members and is a call for rebellion against corruption, racism and injustice.
It is no coincidence that the track featured below is titled Το σύστημαν - The system. For a young band that is a product of the third smallest country in the EU, Monsieur Doumani's musicians have a surprisingly sound grasp of reality. The EU system is a curates egg, in which good - the empowerment of a rich diversity of cultures - and bad - corruption, racism and injustice - are inextricably mixed. If the UK's anti-Brexit camp had taken a more balanced view of both the good and bad instead of staying buried deep inside their self-reverential reality tunnels, the economic and political outlook for Britain would look very different today.
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