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MONSIEUR DOUMANI Sikoses Own Label MD002

Greek Cypriot trio Monsieur Doumani deliver on the promise of their fine debut Grippy Grappa from a couple of years back with this thirteen-track collection of “folk with a twist” (their words, not mine). Demetris Yiasemides (flute, trombone and vocals), guitarist / singer Angelos Ionas and Antonis Antoniou who sings, provides “Electro acoustic Manipulation” and plays Cypriot bouzouki variant the tzouras, have carved out a distinctive sound: spare, playful, deeply rooted in tradition, yet full of way- ward-but-right experimentation.

The opening couple of tracks combine light playful instrumentation with pointed lyrics (helpfully translated in the CD booklet) after which the pace slows and the mood gets weirder, at times almost psychedelic in its intense drones, vocal chants and jarring arrangements, before swapping back to (relatively) more conventional folk sounds. For a mere trio, Monsieur Doumani throw in a variety of moods and textures, at times sounding mediæval, at times bluesy, jazzy and some- times like an East Med folk-rock band.

Recorded in the Greek Cypriot capital Nicosia, Sikoses (the title refers to the day before Lent, when the island’s inhabitants are traditionally encouraged to don masks and party) features a mix of original compositions and often radical reinterpretations of traditional tunes. It’s a tribute to the quality of the band’s songwriting (not to mention the durability of those old folk tunes) that it’s difficult to work out which is which.

www.monsieurdoumani.com Jamie Renton