In a digital age, driven by a huge amount of information on a daily basis, the beauty of producing records in the classic old-fashioned way (using multi-track recorders, sound engineers and definitely plenty of studio time) may be lost, but there’s plenty of space for home experimentation and a diy-production approach. Drug Free Youth is one of those bands (or more specific – one of those musicians, as George writes and records all tracks himself) that step out of a living room but sound like they were made in a time when computers weren’t used for music. George, besides using the studio for mixing, mastering the album and recording the drums, recorded everything (from vintage synthesizers and organs [which he uses a lot] to guitars and vocals) at his home in Thessaloniki, Greece. Given the fact that most musicians and composers start out working that way and still continue to do so, that may not sound so unique. But you’ll just have to listen to this album in order to prove yourself otherwise. There are influences of the late sixties so strong that you can actually be transferred into that particular time and the way that records were made. Take for example Bruce Haack’s The Electric Lucifer (which I think ‘The Avocado Index’ is really close to) or even Music Emporium’s self-titled album in 1969, both heavily organ-driven with powerful compositions. What Drug Free Youth has done, or tries to do, is to take that sound and explore it even further. There’s tons of new music that is about to come and new genres to appear along the way, and because of this, one reason that I think Drug Free Youth is an important modern musician is because his music is a crossroad between the past and the present, a beginning that can take experimental pop psychedelia to a whole another level. New genres are mostly based on old ones anyway.
Opening with the exhilarating but obscure at the same time ‘Pulsating Yellow Heart’ and moving on to ‘Faces From The Past’, you’ve already experienced his great composition-work and the vocal harmonies ideally sung. ’The Mysteries Of Life- Ms Abigeil Doe’ wouldn’t be so beautiful without the west coast ‘Jefferson Airplane-style’ guitars – trademark of the late sixties, whereas the lullaby-kind-of-song ‘The Broken Circle’ has a taste of Greece in that era. It’s when you understand what he tries to do: bring beauty back to pop music. By saying ‘pop’, I mean music that’s ‘accepted’ by a wide public, it doesn’t have to be ‘playback music’ that’s played in clubs and arenas; sometimes the sound of breaking glass can be just as catchy as an ultra-compressed vocal line. On ‘Patterns’, the guitar replaces the organ accompanied by live drumming and nostalgic 90s vocals. There are 19 tracks on ‘The Avocado Index’, lasting no longer than 40 minutes: a challenge, given the number of influences that the songs have. ‘Σύννεφα Από Καραμέλα’ (meaning ‘clouds made of candy’) is another groovy organ-based tune that features Greek lyrics, which suit just fine. And he does this in ‘Ergotaxio’ too, this time featuring George Romanos, a famous 60s Greek musician known for his collaboration with Vangelis and his solo work. But what strikes me most about this record’s composition is the controlled improvisation technique used in specific tracks (mostly on ‘Sans Marker’ and on ‘Thieves Of Forgotten Dreams’, both lasting just about 2 minutes each), a genuine electronic evolution of Pink Floyd’s experimentation at Pompeii. That’s the kind of significance of this album that I mentioned before, influences of the past give birth to new ideas. Ending with the bizarre and strangely optimistic ‘The Future’, you can tell that what you have to do with here is some original revival of vintage music, a record that’s too easy to get hooked on, but too hard to stick on a particular song/hit as well.
Drug Free Youth doesn’t seem to need 5-minute long tracks to improvise and show his ideas. He can do it perfectly in just thirty seconds and you wouldn’t even tell the difference. He needed 19 tracks to blend together and express what he had in mind; be it a composition paying tribute to his influences or a celebration of vintage synth sounds and guitars. But anyway, what he felt while making these tracks was original and true, and you can’t go wrong if this thing is happening. Let’s hope that this will only be the beginning and that more amazing albums will come along soon. For the time being, there are only 300 copies available, released by a Greek label called ‘Nowhere Street Music’
Grab your copy here: http://drugfreeyouth.bandcamp.com/album/the-avocado-index-2