A Victim Of Society ‘Distractions’ (Inner Ear) Available Now
Removed from the sight and sound of our daily newsfeed, the fatal precipice that awaited Greece as it struggled to re-balance its almost collapsed economy, has fortunately failed to tip the European Union’s most harshly affected member into a total free-fall. In a precarious position still, Greece was seen as a basket case, enervated by a barrage of high unemployment, benefit and wage cuts. Replaced over time by a weekly cycle of even more despairing economic and social woes, civil strife, conflict and the continuing misery that hangs over much of the North African continent and Middle East, Greece’s own struggle to form any kind of stability, including a government able to negotiate a less austere punishment from the EU, has slipped from the global conscious.
If that wasn’t difficult and worrying enough, there is the spread of an anti-immigration flag bearing far right, namely the Golden Dawn, who managed to gain a small, but even so highly alarming, percentage of the Greek vote in the main parliament and on the odd council. So toxic and flammable is the rhetoric, they’ve been linked to a string of violent attacks, threats and even a murder: routinely antagonistic and inflammatory, it hasn’t always been one-sided, as the party’s own offices and members have been on the receiving end of a Molotov cocktail or two. In troubling times with the opportunist growth of a dangerous reactionary force ready to turn any situation into a convenient rallying call-to-arms, the arts must rile and counter. The Greek music scene has not just suffered from monetary support cuts but also with the miasma of violence: In September of 2013, the rapper Killah P was fatally stabbed during a brawl. His alleged attacker was found to have links with the Golden Dawn, though the party has strenuously denied any knowledge or involvement with the matter. A subsequent revenge attack on the Dawn’s Neo Irakelio, Athens office, by an organization calling themselves the Fighting People’s Revolutionary Powers, resulted in two deaths.
But away from the out and out protestations and vitriol of the now familiar protest movements, Greece has played host to a surprising, nee blossoming, psych scene during the crash. And it ain’t the ‘beyond the calico wall’ of halcyon daydream plasticine picket fences psych neither. This is a more introverted and ominous strain, closer to the industrial than the kool aid litmus test of soft bulletins.
Not since the halcyon days of Aphrodite’s Child, has Greece exported to the world such a popular, reverent-inspired at times, psychedelic act. And even with the cream of Austin and San Francisco’s finest making their own odyssey (groan, sorry for the pun) to the Hellenic shores – the likes of miscreant bedfellows, Ty Seagull, Growlers and Black Angels just a few – the healthy incubated scene is for now, a mainly local phenomenon.
Attempting to spread the word further afield, Greek label Inner Ear has brought our attention to the duo, A Victim Of Society – the musical partnership of bassist/guitarist Fotis Ntous and vocalist/guitarist Vagelis Markris whose choice of communication is the universal language of ‘drone’. Hardly defined by their national identity, the duo sound more at home in the UK with their scuzzed-up fuzzbox of heavy leaden influences that recall The Jesus And Mary Jane and Spacemen 3.
Taking their name from the scrambled despair and inner turmoil of the WWI scared Dadaist and caricature genius of the depraved, greedy, German underbelly, George Grosz, AVOS channel frustration and anger through a wall of squealing, whining feedback and repetitive downer megaphone muffled vocals. From the misty veiled introduction of their bemoaned ‘Unfair’ – and of course they’re right, it is deeply unfair, regardless of what they’re actually alluding to – comes forth a wire-y pinched Gothic drone and rattling of ghostly tambourine. Methodically grooving to a simple motorik beat it takes them a few minutes to work up a momentum, and by the second track, ‘Enough Said’, we’re travelling along the imaginary krautrock highway, overtaking Kasabian at the Neu! hard shoulder and meeting BRMC on the intersection for the attacking ‘Once Again’.
Though they seemed to take their foot of the pedal and hang loose by track number four, ‘Jane’s Insane’, the title and holy sustained one-note held down organ accompaniment, may suggest an uneasy stop over at an eerily atmospheric sanatorium. Keeping up the shoegaze detour, its time for some baggy downtime via a suicidal Stone Roses, on the languid wah-wah shuffling, ‘Certain Sense’. But we’re back on firmer, more hardliner, ground on the biting Dead Meadows style desert twanged stoner rocker, ‘Torley Heath’, and we’re moved to start contemplating the burning down of theis dystopia landscape they’ve built, whilst someone fiddles for a lighter, on the voodoo cannonade, Birthday Party-esque, ‘Sweet Girl’.
With no obvious Greek signatures, and even the lyrics, though obscured, sung in English, the band have amorphously blurred the demarcated boundaries of identity with the eagerly awaited Distractions LP. But then the duo who seem to occupy a plateau between the soporific drone and industrial grubby augers of doom mongering rock and the haze-y grooves of psychedelia, are scoring an all encompassing universal theme of desperation and anger, familiar to most of us.