Unlike its predecessors, whose material was mostly instrumental, "Mode Plagal III" features a formidable cast of some of the country's finest female vocalists, Yiota Vei, Savina Yannatou, Eleni Tsaligopoulou and Theodosia Tsatsou.With the recording of their third album, Mode Plagal have completed 10 years of dealing, researching and experimenting on traditional greek music. In "Mode Plagal III",the group arranges traditional greek folk songs from Continental Greece, Epirus, Thrace, Macedonia and the Aegean island of Patmos.
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Official press release from Lyra/Musurgia Graeca - October 2001
"... Mode Plagal is hipper than any American record I've heard in a longtime... they make a case for fusion that might have saved the genre twenty years ago..." is how one critic at the respected US trade magazine Modern Drummer responded to ethnic-jazz combo Mode Plagal's self-titled debut release back in 1995.
The Athens based group, which lived up to its promise with an excellent follow-up, 1999's "Mode Plagal II", No 96 in the annual TOP 100 of the World Music Charts Europe, an album that served to further enrich the band's intricate sound - outstanding fusion of greek folk, mainly from the country's north, with jazz, funk, rock and calypso elements - is back with a third album in a similar vein. But, unlike its predecessors, whose material was mostly instrumental, "Mode Plagal III" features a formidable cast of some of the country's finest female vocalists, Yiota Vei, Savina Yannatou, Eleni Tsaligopoulou and Theodosia Tsatsou.
With the recording of their third album, Mode Plagal have completed 10 years of dealing, researching and experimenting on traditional greek music. In "Mode Plagal III", the group arranges traditional greek folk songs from Continental Greece, Epirus, Thrace, Macedonia and the Aegean island of Patmos.
YIOTA VEI, who has served the greek tradition for more than 25 years and is known as the "priestess" of demotic song, sings the well-known "Deli Papas" a traditional song from Epirus, as well as "On Mavrianos' threshing yard", a traditional song from Macedonia,
SAVINA YANNATOU, the nightingale with the unique voice, sings and improvises on traditional Christmas Carols from Thrace,
ELENI TSALIGOPOULOU, acclaimed greek singer with a wide repertory in traditional song, sings the beautiful "Black Swallows", a traditional song from Thrace and raps on instumental "Lemnos",
THEODOSIA TSATSOU, sings in her own passionate way the very popular traditional rembetiko "Lads across your Neighbourhood",
MODE PLAGAL, besides the instrumental tracks, sing four traditional songs, two "tsamikos" from Continental Greece, a "lerikos" from the island of Patmos, and a Thracian (Bossa 7/8),
and the album closes with instrumental "Demetro", that features the voice of legendary Evgenios Spatharis of the "Karagiozis" Theatre of Shadows.
"Mode Plagal III" pays also tribute to the richness and beauty of traditional greek verse, the aesthetics that define the demotic tradition and the personification in folk poetry of birds, animals, to who the anonymous creator lends human attributes, to nature itself.
in.gr - MUSIC -
In a review from the bigest Greek portal, Mode Plagal III gets 4 out of 5 stars (Greek text).
More info: http://www.in.gr/musiccd/mcddsk.asp?mcdi=0004670
A reviewer of this music site, gives 8/10 to the latest record of Mode Plagal.
RootsWorld Bulletin #197 - 2002
Mode Plagal, a pioneering jazz-folk Greek fusion group offering a unique approach to traditional music, has created a signature sound both familiar and refreshingly new, that has led to their album topping many lists of the best recordings of 2001 in Greece. This is a work produced with great care, with an international audience in mind, including excellent bilingual liner notes (with a special English-only text on the history of vernacular Greek music), and the high caliber (and high profile) of guest singers.
All those things are simply supportive of the main ingredient of the album, the group itself. Propelling the music with a verve and dignity that shows both great musicianship and deep admiration for the original material, Mode Plagal reinvent it without betrayal. Joyful and vibrant, their versions are an adaptation of the age-old material for contemporary society, conserving the tradition's intrinsic value in a way that no amount of faithful interpretation ever can. This is music produced over centuries, where reinterpretation was part of its appeal. The skillful performances of that material have an easy air, despite the apparent novelty of the jazz orchestration. It appears that Mode Plagal thought long and hard about the way their music would sound, but then performed it with total abandon.
The high point of this album, and the difference from the previous two, is the participation of four noted guest performers (of which Yiota Vei and Savina Yannatou are better known to international audiences, while Theodossia Tsatsou and Eleni Tsaligopoulou to Greek ones). They deliver some of their best interpretations on record. Savina Yannatou is her usual wildly improvisational self, but it's quite rare for her to allow herself so much leeway, certainly more than on any of her solo records with the possible exception of the live Terra Nostra. Theodossia Tsatsou, who is best known for her ethereal vocals with her former band Bl and her ensuing solo career, delivers a highly original version of a twentieth century drunkard's song. Eleni Tsaligopoulou offers a minimalist but highly effective version of an immigrant's song in a career-high performance. Yiota Vei elaborates and attenuates lyrics that in the hands of a lesser singer would have appeared banal. Her treatment brings forth the soul of the songs, especially on "Deli Papas." The importance that Greeks have been placing on 'levendi,' a traditional manly characteristic and a word that is really untranslatable, comes to life with her performance. That this is a song about a priest is just indicative of her ability.
Also featured is Evgenios Spatharis, a voice that is familiar to every Greek as the chief contemporary performer of "shadow plays," a traditional theaterical form of Middle Eastern ancestry akin to a puppet show, where the heroes are visible only through their projections on a screen. That is the only one that loses a lot of its majesty for non-Greek speakers, as the hilarious improvised dialogue is impossible to reproduce.
Mode Plagal have once again developed their particular niche, this time through the help of their esteemed guests, and it seems that the sky is the limit for them. Together with the 'Greeks & Indians' co-operative, they should be considered the preeminent ambassadors of the much-maligned vernacular Greek music in the 21st century, a worthy accolade for a group of rare musical instinct. - Nondas Kitsos
More info: http://www.rootsworld.com
Dimitris Kazis gives this CD a 10 out of 10 and explains why (text in Greek).
More info: http://www.mic.gr/cds.asp?id=8571
Athens News - 19/10/2001
THESE guys may take a few years to get their stuff together and release their following album but when they do, the outcome is truly impressive. For Mode Plagal music is all about having fun and that's evident in all three of their "crossover" releases to date (besides their individual participations). Originality and improvisation make up a well-crafted, downright radical CD. Mode Plagal's jazz-fused demotika (Greek traditional songs) are galvanising and full of inventive touches that don't mar a centuries-old tradition. On this album they turn to one of the genre's finest voices, Yiota Vei, on six-minute plus bass-driven Epirot song "Deli papas". Much-loved singer Eleni Tsaligopoulou does her vocal acrobatics on "Mavra Helidonia" from Thrace, while Theodosia Tsatsou offers her funky interpretation of "Ta Paidia Tis Geitonias Sou". Last but not least, Greece's "international" voice Savina Yannatou sings Christmas carols - and all this in the name of jazz. No pale imitations, no commercial tricks, just outright creativeness. No regrets on this one.