Kolida Babo is the collaboration between two woodwind musicians from separate regions of Greece - Socratis Votskos is from Pella and Harris P is from Athens. This, their debut album, was recorded in improvised, live-take sessions beginning on the night of the “Kolida Babo” folk rituals of music and dance in northern Greece. The sessions proceeding over three years, explore the ancient music of Armenia and the folk traditions of Greece’s Epirus and Thrace regions, alongside abstract electronics and free jazz.
As musicians of modern Greece, the sonic palette is developed in part as a means of processing the country’s immediate actualities: its relation to its regional traditions, its urban centres and its humanitarian and economic crises. In this, the music is at once clearly located in traditional sounds and disjointed from them, at times contrasting or harmonious, both conceptually and sonically.
The Armenian Duduk that anchors the project is a double-reeded woodwind instrument made of apricot wood with thousands of years of history and generations of venerable masters - the duo cites Djivan Gasparyan as a main influence, and Harris studied with Vahan Galstyan. Traditionally its music is played in duet: a melody on one duduk, a low drone accompaniment, the dum, on another. Kolida Babo preserves and extends the dual nature of duduk music in many ways, replacing the dum at times with the tones of a Moog synthesizer to allow the two players to weave harmonies together in duet. And there is a persistent duality in the braid of Kolida Babo’s sonic associations - modern and ancient, local and global – in moments underpinning one another, in others undermining. “Sometimes we mock modern times and sometimes the other way around”, they say - it’s a collision, or an engagement, romantic or pugilistic, and the sense is of an experiment without expectation, without preciousness or exoticism of folk culture. The elements challenge each other and the listener - while the music is very much about texture and tone, the sounds aren’t clearly modern or ancient: it’s futile to identify, we’re reminded, and instead we experience the immediate presence and power of the combination.
Influences include Armenian Folk music, Greek Rebetiko, German Kosmische, Spiritual Jazz, the Fourth World music of Brian Eno and John Hassell, British Trip Hop and Electrified West African Funk. But where these can be identified they are as sidelong journey makers through the borderless idiolect belonging to the dialogue between the two players and enabling its free and full execution, subtle markers used to coordinate the collaboration.