Monsieur Doumani is not a single person, but three young men from Cyprus, the island nation in the Mediterranean Sea. Formed in 2011, and coming from different musical backgrounds, they were united by their love for the traditional music of their island home. Antonis Antoniou plays the tzouras, an instrument comparable to the bouzouki, Angelos Ionas is the guitarist, and Demetris Yiasemides plays the wind instruments.
Although often described as traditional Cypriot music, you realize at first listen, this is not your grandparents’ idea of the music of yore. That is exactly the idea behind “Grippy Grappa,” a very jaunty and listenable album. The guys of Monsieur Doumani are obviously very familiar with the folk tunes, but made the conscious decision to rewrite and perform their own interpretation.
Most of the songs are traditional, but there are a couple dealing with the present-day situation in Cyprus, especially the debt crisis which can be heard in ‘Young Upwardly-Mobile Professional.’ Another original is ‘Out Of Touch Guy’ which pertains to an actual incident the band experienced while playing at a street festival in Nicosia. They were arrested by two policemen for breaking a law pertaining to begging, and the band was fined. However, there was such a public outcry that the law was changed and Monsieur Doumani received an apology from the government.
The album’s florid cover illustration was taken from the book cover of ‘Spanos And The 40 Dragons’ by the famous Cypriot designer and story teller, Hambis Tsaggaris. All in all, “Grippy Grappa” is a very interesting and exciting addition to the World Music folk scene.