Album Review of
Exil-Exile (Εξορία)

Written by Joe Ross
December 6, 2021 - 12:54pm EST
Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star

Born in Greece, Kyriakos Kalaitzidis is a composer, oud master and serves as artistic director for the En Chordais ensemble, a group formed in 1993. Dr. Kalaitzides holds a Ph.D. in Byzantine Musicology from the Athens University, and he has done considerable research about modal secular music of the post- Byzantine era. A musical unifier, Kalaitzidis composed all of the music on this generous 67-minute album Exil – Exile. Along with members of En Chordais, the album features the singing of Sophia Papazoglou and 34 guest musicians. I especially enjoyed the violin of Kyriakos Petras, qanun of Alkis Zopoglou featured on six tracks apiece, and the accordion of Iraklis Vavatsikas on “Oriental Waltz.” A couple other standout tracks are certainly the juxtaposition of “Oud: Rast Taqsim” and “New York Syrto” that bring the journey full-circle and to closure.      

Born into a family of exiles, Kalaitzidis’ life experience and research have led him to deal with the theme of exile on this album. Blending influences of east and west, the music’s energy stems from consummate musicality, a variety of instruments, and both lilting and melancholy melodies. Lyrics by Vasiliki Nevrokopli in “Zeimbekiko of Exile” and “The Song of the Swallow” begin with statements of sadness, sorrow or doubt but eventually provide seeds of hope and optimism by the songs’ conclusions. The melodic theme is revisited, with a lighter, breezy delivery in the “Tango of Fire.” For these reasons, Exil – Exile is best absorbed as an expressive musical suite that conveys distinctive airs of worldly heartache, wistful remembrances but also affirmative spirit without sounding saccharine. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)