I first listened to ΓΙΑΝ ΒΑΝ (Yan Van) on Soundcloud, if I remember well. An adventurous project full of bizarre covers, imaginative compositions, notable collaborations and intriguing sounds.
It’s the band of Jan Van de Engel (a playful translation of Giannis Angelopoulos’ real name). His Dutch alias emerged while his was living in Holland, where he studied in Rotterdam’s Conservatory, as he notes on his website.
Straddling the worlds of rock, jazz, afro, electronica and greek traditional music, Jan Van de Engel and his band lay a bet of how far they can take their experimentation without sounding too pompous, verbose or contrived. And to my belief, they turned up with a successful final result managing to avoid pitfalls. Do listen to their last year’s longplay and you would discover their tasty songs yourselves.
They just released their new video, called “Εκπτώσεις” – “Discounts”, where you can shake your belly while watching it.
One month ago, ΓΙΑΝ ΒΑΝ also published a wonderful cover with Irini Arabatzi (Ειρήνη Αραμπατζή) as a guest vocalist. “Κι Αν Γελάω Είναι Ψέμα” – “And If I Laugh That’s A Lie”, is a modern approach of a famous folk song of the old days, written and sung by Stelios Kazantzidis, a mythical figure of the Greek folk (or laiko/ rebetiko) music, who passed in 2001.
He was the voice – mainly – of the poor and outcast Greeks around the world – natives, immigrants and refugees – during the decades of ‘50s till ‘90s. A legend, pillar and comfort to millions of people. If you ever went to a Greek tavern you had definitely listened to some of his songs, or seen a giant photograph of him hung on the wall.
While you can listen to the original version of the song on YouTube, you will find out how marvelously and differently unfolds the cover, which is steeped in the same languid melancholy.