Ode On A Grecian Prog

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on [“Ode On A Grecian Urn,” John Keats]

“Rewind to the early 60s, when the local music scene in Greece was thriving with fresh ideas. A new movement was in the works and many young musicians were eager to embrace it. They wanted to stay away from the tradional Greek bouzouki, looking instead at Western pop culture”

🔸 Today we’re gonna talk about some of those “unheard progressive melodies” made in Greece by Aphrodite’s Child, Iraklis, Socrates Drank The Conium, Akritas, Apocalypsis, Ciccada, Verbal Delirium, Mother Turtle, Residuos Mentales and OH.

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🔸 Very Special Thanks to Alexandros Mantas, from Residuos Mentales, for his help with this post.

1. Aphrodite’s Child

“No doubt the most popular and successful band of the lot, Aphrodite’s Child had a short-lived musical career, releasing 3 studio albums in 5 five years”

🔸 Aphrodite’s Child’s story started back in 1968, when a bunch of friends were running away from Greek dictatorship: Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou (aka “Vangelis”), Artemios Ventouris-Roussos (aka “Demis Roussos”), Loukas Sideras, and Argyris Koulouris.

🔸 They wanted to travel to England and start a new band. But they never made it. Argyris Koulouris had to stay behind in Greece to do the military service and the other three got stuck in Paris when they were denied English working pemits. But as every cloud has a silver lining, Mercury Records signed them up while they were in France and Aphrodite’s Child was born.

Argyris Koulouris had to stay in Greece to do the military service and the other three got stuck in Paris when they were denied English working pemits”

🔸 After two successful pop-oriented albums, “End of the World” and “It’s Five O’Clock”, and with Argyris Koulouris back from military service, they started to work on their third recording. It took a year to get it done but when it was finally out, Aphrodite’s Child split up and each member went on separate ways.

“Their final album was a conceptual work called 666, based on ‘The Apocalypse of St. John’, from the New Testament. Conceived by Vangelis and Costas Ferris, it was highly experimental and avant-garde, and the most ambitious album of all three”

2. Iraklis

Iraklis was a mixed bag of traditional Greek folk, psychedelic rock and classical elememts”

🔸 Iraklis was a solo project by multi-instrumentalist Iraklis Triantafyllidis (vocals, guitar, violin, banjo-mandolin, fife, harmonica and others), started in 1972 with Fondas Xatzis (drums), Giorgos Maglaras (violin), Petros Protopappas (flute, vocals), and Giorgos Jagger (bass).

🔸 Iraklis was a mixed bag of traditional Greek folk, psychedelic rock and classical elememts. Four years later, they released their first and most recommended album. “Se Allous Kosmous” (1976).

3. Socrates Drank The Conium

“In 1976 Socrates recorded ‘Phos’, mostly a reworking of older songs by the band, with Vangelis acting as producer and keyboard player”

🔸 Socrates Drank the Conium, known also as Socrates, wast formed in 1969. Although the group went through many line-up changes, two core members remained: guitarist Yannis Spathas and bassist/singer Antonis Tourkogiorgis. Until 1971, Socrates Drank the Conium had released 3 non-prog albums in the Jimmy Hendrix / Cream style.

🔸 But in 1976 they got signed up by Vertigo, shortened their name to Socrates and traveled to London to record their most progressive work, “Phos”, mostly a reworking of older songs by the band. Vangelis acted as producer and keyboard player and he even co-wrote one track, the instrumental “Every Dream Comes to an End”.

4. Akritas

“When his former band, Poll, disbanded, guitarist and bassist Stavros Logaridis decided to create something more complex. The result was Akritas, founded in 1972 along with drummer Giorgos Tsoupakis and keyboardist Aris Tasoulis

🔸 Their only, self-titled album, released in 1973, was a mixed bag of psychedelia, progressive and symphonic rock with psych-spacey guitars, baroque organs, pianistic tunes, driving drumming, art vocalizing and sound high effects.

5. Apocalypsis

“A short-lived band founded in 1979 by Vassilis Dertilis. Apocalypsis started gigging around the country strongly influenced by the early Genesis albums and with a singer using make up on stage, exactly like Peter Gabriel did in the past”

🔸The original line-up was formed by Giannis Palamidas (vocals), Achilleas Spyrou (guitars), Haris Fotopoulos (bass), Stavros Sidiropoulos (drums) plus Dertilis on keys. While their first album, released in 1980, was heavily influenced by Genesis, its follow-up, called “No”, was more new-wave oriented.

6. Ciccada

Ciccada describe their music as “complex and simple at the same time, borrowing influences from many other spheres of progressive rock and more”

🔸 Born in Athens in 2005, Ciccada was founded by flutist / keys man Nicolas Nikolopoulos and guitar player George Mouchos, with singer Evangelia Kozoni joining soon afterwards.

🔸 Ciccada describe their music as “complex and simple at the same time, borrowing influences from many other spheres of progressive rock and more.” They play a mix of rock, jazz, and folk, influenced by Gryphon, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, Strawbs, Hatfield & The North, and 20th-century classic composers.

7. Verbal Delirium

Verbal Delirium decided in 2013 to explore new musical territories with their second release, From the Small Hours of Weakness

🔸 Coming from Athens, Greek art rock band Verbal Delirium was founded back in 2006 by keys man and singer Jargon, out of the sounds of 70’s progressive and psychedelic rock. On this band also plays Stratos Morianos, keyboardist for Residuos Mentales.

🔸 After a debut album, So Close & Yet So Far Away”, in 2010, influenced both from alternative and progressive sounds of rock, Verbal Delirium decided in 2013 to explore new musical territories with their second release, “From the Small Hours of Weakness”, an album with dark, melodic and very emotional progressive rock music.

8. Mother Turtle

Mother Turtle try to adapt the different elements of prog rock into their own music, taking advantage of the artistic freedom that progressive music provides”

🔸 Mother Turtle started as a studio jam band at 2011 with band members Kostas Konstantinidis on guitars and main vocals, George Baltas on drums and backing vocals, George Theodoropoulos on keys and Kostis Hasopoulos on bass.

🔸 The band’s influences include elements from Camel, Genesis, King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Rush, Marillion, Transatlantic, Neal Morse, Pain Of Salvation, Kansas and many more prog masters. Mother Turtle try to adapt the different elements of prog rock into their own music, taking advantage of the artistic freedom that progressive music provides.

9. Residuos Mentales

Residuos Mentales play cinematic music with elements from Greek folk, 70s prog rock, electronic and anything else they deem that would work well”

🔸 Back in 2011, guitar and flute player Alexandros Mantas and keys man Stratos Morianos (also member of Verbal Delirium) were practising time signatures with Dream Theater songs. Writing original stuff wasn’t yet on the table. But one day Stratos said “well, I thought of something. What do you think? ‘Can you think of something that sits back well?”. And that was a game changer.

🔸 Residuos Mentales released their debut album, “Introspection,” in 2018, a work of “cinematic music coupled with elements from Greek music, 70s progressive rock, electronic and anything else they deem that would work well”.

10. OH. (aka Olivia Hadjiioannou)

OH. is the artistic name for Greek-American prog rock and metal multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer and producer Olivia Hadjiioannou

🔸 OH. is the artistic name for Greek-American prog rock and metal multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer and producer Olivia Hadjiioannou. She debuted in 2013 with a 24-minute EP called “Sleeping World”, a crossover progressive lyrical-song work.

🔸 In 2018, OH. released a new EP, “Metallia”, a 6-track, 25-minute long recording with frenetic harmonic guitar solos, sultry multi-layered harmonic vocals, ecstatic head-banging riffs, fantastical violins, grooving bass lines and furious drums.

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