Exposé Online banner

Elka Atanasova — Winds of the Rhodopes
(Si Wan , 1991/1997, CD)

by Mike Ezzo, Published 1999-01-01

Winds of the Rhodopes Cover artBack in the early nineties, when the Bulgarian Women's Choir was making the rounds, a diminutive but fire-breathing 19-year-old violinist from the same country released this promising debut work. How Si Wan stumbled upon Winds of the Rhodopes I know not, as it sits well outside their normally conservative domain of 70's European reissues (where, just like those zillions of reissues coming out of Japan ten years ago, Italy rules supreme). This album, her only one that I know of, presents Elka's violin in a context that is equal parts jazz-rock fusion a la Jeff Beck, and native influences, backed up by drums, keyboards, and two performers of Bulgarian and Turkish string instruments. As with any Dixie Dregs recording you must be prepared for some style jumping. But the way Elka blends Balkan folk elements into the jazz-rock matrix is flawless. Her violin's blistering strings wail, cry and moan, taking no prisoners. Exemplary is "Humble Bees and Scorpions," where she takes Rimsky- Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" as a motif; likewise "Paganinski Overdrive Horo(r)" is a Paganini-esque barn burner with guitar and violin in perfect unison. If you have ever heard some Bulgarian traditional music then you'll see clearly where she is drawing upon her native musical customs. Not as note-for-note authentic as Ivo Papasov; thus more eclectic and malleable. Especially on the two quiet pieces, her serene vocal melts seamlessly into the background texture, without that irritating vibrato that makes Papasov's singer unbearable. Elka's playing exudes poise and a well-rounded demeanor; virtuosity on the one hand, but tempered by melancholy and a melodic sensitivity promising great appeal to non- specialists. This one was a real gem and it would be a shame to see it get overlooked. Dixie Dregs fans in particular would eat it up. A tad early though for reissue, when the original, on the German Erdenklang label, is still readily available from Backroads Music, and elsewhere. But anyway here is another place where you can get it.

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 16, 1997 releases, 1991 recordings

Related artist(s): Elka Atanasova

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Govea - Danza Urbana – This Mexican trio is led by keyboard wizard Salvador Govea, who also handles most of the compositions and arrangements. He is joined by bassist Luis Arturo Guerrero and drummer Victor Baldovinos, the...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues