My name is Lena PlatonosElectro icon

Portraits 03.11.2021

In the Greek musical cosmos, the composer, poet and performer Lena Platonos holds a place of first rank, radically exceptional. On the occasion of the dossier devoted to the Athenian music scene and the new release of Balancers by Dark Entries Records last October, Tristan Bera for Hemisphère son looks back at the career of a unique artist. 

Born in 1951 in Heraklion, Crete, a child prodigy trained on the piano by her father, Lena Platonos followed classical studies at the Odeion Athinon before continuing her academic studies in Vienna and Berlin, where she rubbed shoulders with the punk, rock and jazz scenes and discovered oriental music. Upon her return to Athens in the 1970s, she collaborated with the "progressive folklore" group DNA and the composer Dimitris Marangopoulos, her husband, before participating in the Third Program of the Hellenic Radio and Television (ERT) of the Oscar-winning composer Manos Hadzidakis, which earned her national popularity. Edo Lilipopouli(Here Lilipopouli) is a children's program that resonates, at the time, in every home in the country. His own compositions, such as Roza Rozalia and The Dance of the Peasare among the most famous of the show, and the poetic absurdity of the lyrics are now part of the Greek collective imagination. For its 2021 edition, the Athens Festival will program, for the first time, a selection of songs from this work composed by Lena Platonos in collaboration with Nikos Christodoulou, Nikos Kypourgos and Dimitris Maragopoulos, performed by the Rosarte children's choir and the Ventus ensemble

From her solo debut with the album Sabotage (1981), written in collaboration with lyricist Marianina Kriezi, singer Giannis Palamidas and Savina Yannatou, Lena Platonos' career took an experimental electronic turn with post-punk and dark wave glimmers. Thanks to the impeccable orchestration and careful, endlessly poignant melodies, and especially the use of the synthesizer, the work is considered a pioneer of the electro genre. This was followed by the setting to music of twelve melodic poems by Kostas Karyotakis, and then by minimal electronic covers of the compositions of his mentor Manos Hadjidakis in the album To'62 (1983). The artist and curator Anastasia Diavasti, founder of the space and platform Ntizeza [to be pronounced Dizeza from the French term diseuse] dedicated to the support, education and celebration of femininities and feminist artists in Athens, who participated in the tribute to Lena Platonos at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNFCC) in 2018, advises, even more than the documentary Lambda Pi (2018), the video excerpt New Faces (1982) to plunge into the infinite grace of the artist's melancholic universe. 

In 2008, after a long period of silence caused by a deep depression and repeated stays in a psychiatric hospital, Lena Platonos reappeared on stage at the Athens Festival, more alive than ever. In an article in LiberationIn an article in the magazine, it was stated that "now ageless, like Kate Bush or Nina Hagen, Lena Platonos is the impossible missing link between the drama of Gréco and Barbara, the deranged pop of Laurie Anderson and Scott Walker, Nico and Björk, dance, techno and Massive Attack.

Since his return, Platonos has not stopped editing and composing, always in a more intimate way by revealing his autobiography as in Diaries in 2008, and sometimes in a collaborative way, together with Tatiana Zographou, Sissi Rada or Athina Routsi as his active Soundcloud account attests. 

In 2010, Platonos set texts by Constantin Cavafis to music for the commemoration of the poet, organised by the director and choreographer of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, Dimitris Papaioannou. The consecration is national. But according to Thodoris Dimitropoulos, who forms the Amateurboyz DJ duo with Spiros Pliatsikas, emblematic of the 2010s electro scene, it is the Californian label Dark Entries Records, whose stated mission is to "resurrect theunderground ", that is truly responsible for propelling Lena Platonos to the rank of international icon by re-releasing the second LP Gallop (1985) in 2015.
Composed, performed and produced entirely by Lena Platonos, Gallop is a seminal opus both musically and conceptually, "a mythological study of the urban population of the contemporary metropolis and a look into its future existence", underpinned by lyrics that deal with grief, dreams, desires and the infiltration of technology into future societies. Josh Cheon, the founder of the American label, became fascinated by this minimalist, hypnotic and haunting music, reissuing Sun Masks Remixes and Lepidoptera (1986), and, after frequent research trips to Athens, ended up publishing a set of twelve unreleased tracks, written between 1982 and 1985, under the name Balancers. The album was released on 21 October 2021, Lena Platonos' birthday.

So that the re-discovery of pure emotion does not stop.


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