Various GOST – A Spiritual Exploration Into Greek Soundtracks (1975 – 1989) Into the Light Records
Following the fall of Greece’s far-right military junta and the restoration of democracy in 1974, Greek filmmaking blossomed into an internationally recognised artform steered by influential directors like Theo Angelopoulos and Alexis Damianos. The 70s and 80s also proved a fertile period for cinematic experimentation among the country’s avant-garde, with films like Nikos Vergitsis’ youth film noir Revanche (1983) and Costa Ferris’s experimental epic Prometheus in Second Person, Singular (1975) pushing Greek cinema to exciting new spaces.
A new compilation from Athens-based Into the Light Records turns its attention to the hard-to-find soundtracks that immortalised the magic, mysticism and political symbolism of 70s and 80s Greek avant-garde cinema. GOST – A Spiritual Exploration Into Greek Soundtracks (1975 – 1989) is a titular play on words that depicts the obscurity of these so-called ghost films, transporting listeners to a cinematic world of existential phantasmagorias, post-apocalyptic sci-fi and idiosyncratic reimaginings of Greek myths.
Award-winning Greek filmmaker and composer Yannis Veslemes put heart and soul into handpicking the compilation’s 17 rare gems, spanning John Carpenter-esque synth jams (Dimitris Papadimitriou’s Erotic Scene) maudlin string elegies (Charlotte Van Gelder’s Karkalou) and no wave dissonance.
The collection frequently reconciles ancient mythology and folklore with modern electronic sound. On Stamatis Spanoudakis’ Prometheus, synth and drum machine minimalism meet ancient Greece. Compilation opener,Thesia’s Parodos – featured on Costas Ferris’ retelling of The Bacchae, Oh Babylon (1989) – mixes up a late-night cocktail of noirish saxophone, vocoder and jazzy synthesizer. Vangelis Katsoulis’ Closed Window conjures a queasy soundscape of horror-noise made using the Brian Eno-approved EMI Synthi AKS, while Dionysis Savvopoulos’s Wind-Glutch incorporates a coterie of acoustic instruments from duduk-like woodwind to shakers and idiophones.
The 80s were dominated by synthesizer-heavy film scores that attempted to construct a retro-futuristic vision of the modern age. But in the same decade, Greek filmmakers and composers looked to ancient history for inspiration. With highlights at every turn of its textured experimentalism, this compilation is a triumph of sonic world-building, and one that contemporary film music composers might only ever dream of creating.