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Monika brings the funk (and the disco, traditional Greek music, 60s pop...)

"Secret in the Dark"

Monika Secret In The Dark
28 September 2015, 11:00 Written by Kate Travers
Greece is a regular topic of discussion in the business pages, but rarely mentioned in the culture section. Monika is out to change that. She's a big deal in her native land, with two platinum-selling LPs under her belt. Recorded in New York, her latest Secret in the Dark is aimed squarely at an international audience.

To say that this record shows Monika “branching out” would be an understatement - as changes in direction go, this is pretty much a U-turn. Produced by Homer Steinweiss of Dap-Kings fame, it's riven with the kind of grooves you might find in the 80s disco-pop of Chemise or Indeep. Take the title track, which could have been written for Anita Ward with its slap-bass and almost symphonic string section - it’s a disco classic that never was. “Gave You My Soul” is the same deal: luscious stings, winding bass and Monika’s swooning vocals.

On Secret in the Dark, Monika mixes this late-disco era atmosphere with a dramatic, almost operatic sensibility. Her collaboration with Andrew Wyatt opens with a theatrical slide down the piano-keyboard and ringing Rachmaninov-esque chords. “Stripping”, the album’s lead single, perpetuates the same melodrama with its overdrive guitar and falsetto vocals. It’s a melanchonic gem of dark, 80s-inspired synths, which could have slotted right into the Drive soundtrack.

Bizarrely, “We Came Into This World” is a nod to both the influences of traditional Greek music and 60s pop from the likes of Jefferson Airplane. It’s a strange listening experience, undoubtedly, but worth a go — it’s not a blend of influences you encounter all that often.

Ultimately, Secret in the Dark succeeds thanks to the unlikely confluence of influences it represents. Monika's distinctive vocals tie together an album which is both varied and ambitious - and which also represented a huge risk in terms of her own career trajectory. Fortunately, this gamble paid off.

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