May Roosevelt – Haunted

May Roosevelt - Haunted

CD, self-released, 2010
www.mayroosevelt.com

The arrival of this beautifully packaged CD by the Greek thereminist and composer who records under the name May Roosevelt was, to put it mildly, a pleasant surprise.
It would seem that a vast majority of electronic music, no matter the country of origin or the subgenre from which it emanates, suffers from a homogenisation of sorts, with musicians and composers often avoiding the research and incorporation of musical traditions into their music (not forgetting they often lack the necessary skill as well). In stark contrast, May Roosevelt addressed and explored this issue, focusing on traditional dance music rhythms from her native Greece, and the end result is a most pleasant and seamless merging of past tradition and present-day technological possibilities.
Throughout “Haunted”, and accompanying more conventional electronics, the theremin is an ancillary stone through which a great part of the melodic variety and feeling of the album is achieved – thus proving this instrument’s enormous potential when placed in the hands of a skilled practicioner such as May Roosevelt.
From the slow opening of zeibekiko-based “The Unicorn Died”, the album evolves organically through seven other pieces, some slower, others faster paced, with each composition being based on a distinct traditional dance rhythm (each being noted in the liner notes for those who may be curious) and incorporating contemporaneous sensibilities and influences. Personal favourites are hard to pinpoint in such an organic album but, on a whim, I’d mention the ominous “Oomph” and “Vow” along with the more energetic “Mass Extermination” and “Young Night Thought”.
Beyond just being an excellent record, “Haunted” expertly and memorably addresses the pertinent question of the role and influence of traditional music in contemporaneous electronic music, and is sure to appeal to a wide and varied audience, from electronic music enthusiasts to appreciators of world music. A showcase of excellent and talented musicianship, its main flaw is its short duration.

[8/10]

— Miguel de Sousa