Syrtaki Dance From Greece [1998]

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The Syrtaki folk dance is a recent innovation. It was created for the film Zorba the Greek, and no, that is not a joke. Syrtaki is a hybrid or pastiche of two more traditional dances, first a slow one, then a fast one. It caught on in Greece, where folk dance is still popular, and has given rise to a musical genre to accompany it. Presumably the different numbers are all originals (as opposed to traditionals), but very little information is given about the music or even the group performing it, so it is hard to be sure.

The pieces are all instrumentals and the lead instrument is the bouzuki, the Greek long-necked lute. The bouzuki has a sharper but less-resonant timbre than the guitar. It is popular in Arabic music and is sometimes used in other world musics such as Irish music. The bouzuki (sometimes there are two) is backed by the electric bass, drums, and keyboards playing what would in acoustic music be the rhythmic part of the accordion. Most of the songs have a two-step meter that is oddly reminiscent of cowboy music. Most of the tracks sound a bit hokey because of the electric instruments and the singsong beat, but a few are interesting, such as the rhythmic "Night Dream," which sounds like a Greek polka. This disc may be acceptable for collectors, but it is surely not the best introduction to Greek music.

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