The new sub-label of Berceuse Heroique, ΚΕΜΑΛ, made its first appearance at the beginning of 2014, debuting with a reissue of a timeless piece of Hellenic ritualism: the folk dance of ANASTENARIA. Originally released in 2008 by the Greek imprint Echomusic and Edition Zero, the music that you’ll encounter was recorded in the Greek village of Agia Eleni, Serres, between 20 and 21 may 1979.
Anastenaria is a traditional fire-walking ritual performed in some villages in northern Greece and southern Bulgaria. The central figures of the tradition are Saint Constantine and Saint Helen. The two major events in this cycle consist of two big festivals, one in January and particularly one in May, both dedicated to these two saints. Each of the festivals lasts for 3 days and involves various processions, music and dancing, and an animal sacrifice. The festival culminates with a fire walking ritual, where the participants, carrying the icons of saints Constantine and Helen, dance ecstatically for hours before entering the fire and walking barefoot over the glowing-red coals, unharmed by the fire. Some myths say that the ritual comes from Middle Ages, when the church of Saint Constantine caught fire, and the voices of the saints calling for help could be heard from inside. The villagers who braved the flames to rescue them were unharmed, being protected by the saints.
The music over here is extremely ecstatic and induces a trance-like experience, with spellbinding strings of violin and repetitive percussions culminating with the voices of the musicians and participators themselves singing. The release comes along with two beautiful reinterpretations by the Hospital Recordings boss Vatican Shadow and experimental electronic/noise artist and former member of the duo Yellow Swans, Pete Swanson.
C. Aναστενάρια (Pete Swanson Version)
D. Aναστενάρια (Vatican Shadow Version)