Departure Songs – listening before leaving for Greece

For a while I struggled to find a catchy title for this post. I had nothing to root what I had to say to the page. After pondering a bit I think I found it.

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Stranger on the bay (Photo courtesy of Martin Carnahan)

“A Gallant Gentleman”by We Lost The Sea is something I have been putting on lately. The song is downright dramatic in its melancholy, and it lies among my favorites because of the emotions that a listen can invoke. It’s the first track on an album called Departure Songs. The album was written and released following the suicide of one of the band members and is a rumination on tragedy. It’s pretty good.

We Lost The Sea is a post-rock band from Australia. Post-rock uses the instrumentation of a more traditional rock band (guitars, a bass, a drum set, etc.) to create a sound that is entirely different. The genre is often plodding, reflective and somber. Often, there are no lyrics (or they are distorted and heard as if from a distance), and most of the fun of this music comes in the interweaving of different sounds and timbres.

That same interweaving—of history and modernity, of displaced populations and ancient ruins—is visible in the modern country of Greece. So too is the tragedy (the suicide has been steadily growing since 2008). The country is saddled with austerity measures put in place by the European Union following years and years of government corruption and a general lack of regard for finances. People in Greece are not happy about this situation.

On top of these difficult economic straits comes the refugee crisis, a diaspora and relocation of peoples from war-torn places such as Syria and Iraq. Refugees also come from countries such as Algeria and Pakistan among others. Wherever they hail from, suddenly there is no shortage of displaced peoples, and Greece has been overwhelmed recently by an influx of refugees landing on the shores of Greek islands on boats launched from Turkey.

It is a struggle to find a place for these people without a home, and Greece has taken in many of those seeking refuge. The islands off the coast of Greece are dotted with official camps, and on the mainland displaced peoples find shelter and a home in unofficial camps born from abandoned buildings.

Rage always seems to come with tragedy. Nativists and discontented locals in Greece are finding a voice for their frustrations under the banner of Golden Dawn (a fascist-leaning Neo-Nazi government party).

In Departure Songs I have found a soundtrack to some of the tragedy of Greece’s current situation. In the coming weeks I hope to not only cover what I find there (in Thessaloniki and Athens) but find a new soundtrack for the country. Something more hopeful would be nice.

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I’m looking forward to it.

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Author: fargomusings

A St. Louisan (county, Kirkwood) currently studying Computer Science and Journalism at Northeastern University. Consumes stories. Tells stories.

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