Comments, Culture, In Focus, Music

“Pausis”, a musical journey of sounds

Contemporary music from Thessaloniki that revolves around the ancient Greek lyre


Theodoros Koumartzis

Angie Lemon


The sea is a fluid road as well as a place for reflection and space. In the northeast of Greece lies Thessaloniki situated on the beautiful Thermaic Gulf embraced by the Aegean Sea.

The new album “Pausis”  is a journey from Thessaloniki that revolves around the ancient Greek lyre, masterfully framed by outstanding female vocalists and soundscapes that reflect the moods of the surrounding city, land and sea.

Complementing the Greek lyre, duduk and ancient stringed pandura are the violin, saxophone, electronic keyboards, evocative sampled sounds and sublime vocals.

“Pausis” explores themes of mysticism and realism. The opening track ‘Belenus’ takes its name from an ancient mythological Celtic healing god, akin to Apollo for the Greeks.

Belenus was thought to ride the Sun across the sky in a horse-drawn chariot and was revered from the Italian Peninsula to the British Isles, with a main sanctuary located at Aquileia, on the Adriatic coast. The track ‘Awake’ was recorded on Muses’ Plateau at 2760 metres high, at Mountain Olympus, the summit of the old Greek Gods while out venturing with his brothers Nikolaos, and Jordan Koumartzis during the pandemic lockdown.

Eljona Eleni Sinjar.

On “Pausis”, as on all journeys, borders are traversed, and new encounters made. ‘Boundaries’ is an original song for an ancient lyre and an Armenian duduk. The album is both peaceful and reflective, charming and strong.

A collection of well-crafted instrumentals and songs using traditional instruments accompanied and enhanced contemporary electronic soundscape that draw on the Greek, Albanian and Cypriot musical heritage of the musicians.

The folk song ‘Are Mou Rindineddha’ “I wander my swallow” (the small bird swallow) is sung in Griko, a rare and ancient dialect of the Griko people of southern Italy from the peninsula of Salento. It is a poetic lament by someone wandering lost far from home and yearning to return home.

What is certain is that this album is a musical journey of highly aesthetic sounds and presentation, a world unto itself as Theodore Koumartzis explains, Our name ‘Pausis’ means a secret form of communication, a parallel form of expression behind the obvious, the unseen point where all the forms of communication (dialogue, sounds, gestures, writing) add and express something higher than their sum.”

The album was recorded in the music studio of Thessaloniki’s unique cultural institution called Seikilo Ancient World Music Museum. Founded by Theodore Koumartzis and his family, Seikilo has grown over the years to become an award-winning, interactive renowned museum.

Seikilo offers history of classical Greek, Roman and other civilisations alongside the musical heritage of ancient instruments including the Greek lyre, the square-bodied stringed pandura and the traditional, triangular shaped harp or epigonion and lute. Seikilo also offers are in-depth videos on ancient music secrets, exclusive video clips, how-to tutorials, recitations of epic poems, and insights from those working on bringing back this long-forgotten legacy to wider audiences.

“Pausis” (released on 16th July, 2023 through Seikilo Ancient World Music) perfectly captures the ancient and modern-day spirit of Thessaloniki and is an album of strength and space with lasting depth, like the sea from whence the inspiration for the album was drawn.

(Photos supplied by Angie Lemon / Press Office)

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