This is probably the most important 2018 album for me and honestly, I don’t know how that happened. But let me at least try to untangle this weird knot…
The Greek political scene has always amazed me, but I consciously started following contemporary Greek bands seriously since maybe 2016. The reason behind this is, in fact, very simple. We’ve just launched our band Feedbacker and we ended up having this gig in a self-managed place in Thessaloníki called Biotexnia (RIP). The gig was great and we actually got way better response for our music than we usually get at home. It felt so good. I met new people that night, made some good friends, bought some zines and tapes from local bands. After that, I ended up booking tons of Greek bands in Sofia for the next year, so I got into their DIY scene first-hand.
I remember seeing the name Σκοτοδίνη (Skotodini) for the first time in the Winterview zine (amazing zine, btw—snag a copy if you get the chance!) I got on that night. I think I checked their music but didn’t really stick to it. Fast forward to present day and I am really hyped about Σκοτοδίνη’s latest, self-titled release.
It consists of 8 straight-forward uptempo post-punk tracks with lyrics in Greek. I really appreciate bands singing in their native language, so this doesn’t come in the way of understanding the feelings behind every song (plus we live in the future now, so we have Google Translate).
Powerful riffs clash with beautiful melodies, tight drums, and electrifying clean, high-pitched vocals—it’s amazing how fresh and adequate post-punk can sound in 2018! I won’t go into details for each individual song like I often do—it’s way better to just go and listen to the album yourself.
I’d rather talk about the DIY aspect of this recording. This album is recorded in a rehearsal room in a squat in Ioannina (Σκοτοδίνη’s hometown). The mixing is done by the band themselves, and for the mastering, they trusted close friend Giorgos Hristoforidis. The end result is so good, that it really makes me feel nothing but astonishment and respect for what they do.
When it comes to making music, I am a self-proclaimed gear nerd that loves to discuss playing and recording techniques with other nerds. Most of the time we end up in a circle of an uncomfortable amount of money chasing a particular sound in the studio. Many people are overlooking recoding by yourself, thinking it’s “just a demo” if you don’t do it in a “real” studio, like the ones you pay an arm and a leg for just setting your foot in.
So to all people in bands reading this—next time you’re not totally happy with that snare sound you paid hundreds of hard-earned dollars (or whatever currency you’re chained to), think about the possibility to learn something new and make things happen using your own efforts. Don’t stress over clichés about sound and don’t underestimate the DIY approach to both writing and recording. In Σκοτοδίνη’s case, it worked out beautifully and it’s been an inspiration for me to know where they recorded this amazing album.
Yes, I actually asked my friend Nikolaos (from Living Under Drones, another great band from Ioannina) about this “studio” and he sent me some pictures of what this space looks like.
Yep, looks just like your lousy rehearsal room, except maybe cleaner.
Yet somehow Σκοτοδίνη have made such an ordinary and probably pretty meh sounding room work for them, and I don’t imagine them using too much of a fancy equipment either. It’s the result that matters, and the love you put inside it. And, supposedly, endless hours of trial and error.
For example, I think their bass sounds great. Σκοτοδίνη has captured that warm fuzzy tone-rolled-off bass sound that is key to many early 80’s favorites. Pristine, slightly overdriven but still articulate guitars with a hint of chorus—very subtle yet so rich. Tight drums, very natural sounding. Very good mixing of the vocals. In fact, I think it’s phenomenal how they didn’t go crazy with reverb and effects on the vocals, that takes quite some willpower.
In the end, all the songs are spot-on, there are no boring parts. In fact, I wish there are more tracks on this album, so I can enjoy a little more.
I absolutely love this release and while many of you might not feel exactly the way I do about it, for me it’s probably the best thing I’ve heard for 2018.
Ten fuckin’ stars or something.