Past & present of Rebetiko with After Altamont


After Altamont is the coming together of Inside Out Records bosses Stevie R and Constantinos Parisinos.

Though their solo outputs and collaborative releases have paid homage to their Greek roots in the past, this live project puts traditional sound front and centre.

Specifically they’re exploring a sound called Rebetiko. Described as the ‘urban popular song’ of Greece, the music has its roots in the late 19th century through to the ’50s, and was initially associated with lower classes.


The lyrics usually dealt with social subjects, including love, exile, marriage and death, as well as themes that reflected the experiences of marginalised subcultures in the country, for example drink, poverty and crime.

When it came to song structure, the Rebetiko sound is predominantly based on traditional Greek or Anatolian dance rhythms and employs traditional instruments namely the bouzouki, the baglamas and the guitar.

After Altamont interpret these rhythms through the use of these instruments which they merge with analog electronics to create dramatic, psychedelic grooves that beckon you in and pull you under. Their first journey into these sounds was captured on An Animal Orchestra back in 2020 and now they’re heading deeper into Rebetiko realms with Elektriki Rebetologiaa three-track EP featuring further reimaginations from Steve Pepe, Lamusa and more.

Following the release we asked them to give us a history lesson in the classic sound. Here’s what they had to say about it…

“It is challenging to achieve satisfactory representativeness of the Rebetiko era and music in terms of main elements and protagonists within a short list.

This playlist from After Altamont and Giorgos Angelopoulos aims to assist the listeners with their first steps into the genre, providing pieces with characteristic rhythms and roads (melodic paths). The examples provided in this list have been composed and performed by key characters of the Rebetiko scene, and cover the two main schools of the genre: Piraeus and Smyrna. Typical instruments found in these compositions are the bouzouki, baglama, guitar, violin, oud and kanun.

Our purpose was to include an original recording and a contemporary version of the piece, which either aims to achieve the original identity by advanced means, or experiments over its main elements.”

Αντιλαλούνε οι φυλακές (traditional)

Markos Vamvakaris was a pioneer of Rebetiko and is named as its “Patriarch”. This is a 9/8 rhythm (Zeibekiko) piece recorded in 1936 and first performed in 1934-35 by the famous rebetiko quartet (Ksakousti tetras) of Batis, Dellias and Payioumtzis.

  • Αντιλαλούνε οι φυλακές (traditional)

    Markos Vamvakaris was a pioneer of Rebetiko and is named as its “Patriarch”. This is a 9/8 rhythm (Zeibekiko) piece recorded in 1936 and first performed in 1934-35 by the famous rebetiko quartet (Ksakousti tetras) of Batis, Dellias and Payioumtzis.

  • Αντιλαλούνε οι φυλακές (contemporary)

    “Trihordo” is a band formed by 7 musicians led by the famous bouzouki virtuoso Kostas Papadopoulos. With respect to the rebetiko vibe, and with their own style, they perform Markos’ song in a uniquely expressive way.

  • Ακρογιαλιές δειλινά (traditional)

    Vasilis Tsitsanis was already an accomplished pre-war (until 1940) rebetiko musician, and became by the 50s one of the most popular in the history of the rebetiko. This piece in terms of rhythm, melodic lines and harmony, reflects the evolution of rebetiko and its influences from the pre-war to the post-war era.

  • Ακρογιαλιές δειλινά (contemporary)

    This remix by Imam Baildi band shows how the old melodies can fit in different music styles and genres without losing their identity.

  • Δε με θέλεις πια (traditional)

    This is a syrto (rhythm) song written by the greatly admired violinist refugee from Smyrna (Asia Minor), Dimitris Semsis. In this recording the song is performed by the influential and expressive woman of rebetiko, Rosa Eskenazi.

  • Δε με θέλεις πια (contemporary)

    This version by Dimitris Lappas and Ifigeneia Ioannou, shows how the self-sufficient melodies based on modal roads (makam) can be embraced by contemporary arrangements.

  • Για σένα μαυρομάτα μου (traditional)

    A hasapiko rhythm (2/4) piece written by Spiros Peristeris, one of the well known Smyrna-style rebetiko composers and musicians (bouzouki and mandolin). In this recording of 1937, the piece is sung by two of the best rebetiko singers, Stratos Payioumtzis and Kostas Roukounas.

  • Για σένα μαυρομάτα μου (contemporary)

    This is a contemporary arrangement of the piece, followed by a traditional music theme (hora), created by the unique composer, multi-instrumentalist and performer of rebetiko and traditional music Akis Pitsanis, along with Vangelis Pashalidis (santur) and Periklis Vrahnos (violin).

  • Κοκαϊνοπότης (traditional)

    This is a Smyrna-style masterpiece composed by Panayiotis Toundas, a composer with a massive contribution to the rebetiko music. Toundas also worked as art director of the most famous record labels in Greece during the rebetiko era. The melodies follow a unique combination of folk roads (makam), and in this version is sung by Marika Frantzeskopoulou (Politissa), one of the first generation of women singers.

  • Κοκαϊνοπότης (contemporary)

    This contemporary version sung by Dimitra Papiou combined with the expressiveness of an improvising bouzouki, and the rich in vibe and harmonies piano (Stamatis Kraounakis) shows how Toundas compositions travel through time untouched.