'Tris Je o Koukos' were playing last night. Because I've been away from Cyprus, I have missed my cousins performing but now I'm making up for lost time by going to see them play whenever I can.
The venue is small but the acoustics was good. The place was packed so that some people were standing or sitting on the steps. The close proximity, the old gas heater that sucked the oxygen out of the air, the relaxed atmosphere and the drinks aided the wanders of the mind to the past, to the old hashish-scented coffee-shops in Piraeus, across the Aegean sea, to the coast of Asia Minor and over Istanbul.
I don't know much about the music they play, the 'Music of the Eastern Mediterranean'. Some of it is easy to listen to but most of it is not. It is difficult, because it appeals to the darker sides of our soul, and explores things it pains us to look into.
My cousin Maria plays the Oud. Its sound fills up the room and for me it is like the earth: without it, the music has no ground to stand on, it lacks its stability, its balance. But it is also like the rain: when the strings are plucked, our sadnesses, our longings, they come showering down; every striking of a chord is a single raindrop.
The Oud can stand on its own, but it can also melt behind the other instruments and brood privately in its corner. The Oud brings Depth to the music. It is like a water well you stand over and shout in to let your troubles out. To hear their echo.
No other instrument can make me look into my soul like the Oud.
My other cousin Stavroulla plays the Ney. The Ney is sorrowful but powerful. It is a loud cry, a wail, whose breath lifts me up and places me on top of the tallest minaret in Istanbul. And from there I can see the whole world: it is frightening and strikingly beautiful. From within its hollow body emerge both chaos and precision. Both destruction and the love of life. The Ney is the Passion in the music.
No other instrument carries the threat of the Abyss and the promise of Truth like the Ney.
Though the video does not do justice to the band, I have put together some of the clips I managed to film last night. Evros plays percussions and Elena sings with her heavenly voice.