Keep Shelly in Athens
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Keep Shelly in Athens

Athens, Attica, Greece | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

Athens, Attica, Greece | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Electronic Dream Pop




"Keep Shelly in Athens make easy work of album number three"

Greece-based act Keep Shelley in Athens are very much of the Mark E Smith train of thought where “If it’s me and your nan on bongos - it’s The Fall”.

This third album sees mysterious producer RPR hook up with a third vocalist in as many albums, this time in the form of Australian novelist and poet Jessica Bell. While original vocalist Sarah P - who released her own excellent album, Who Am I earlier this year - soared on their debut (2011’s At Home), she was replaced by Myrtha, who although of a similar ilk vocally, gave KSIA’s second album Now I’m Ready an intriguing middle Eastern flavour. With RPR excelling in terms of production with a stronger emphasis on atmospherics, the change in lead singer was pretty negligible - it was very much a Keep Shelley In Athens record.

Philokalia proves to be similar stylistically to Now I'm Ready, but with Bell proving to be a more straightforward vocalist, the music is more nuanced than previous material. There's an emphasis on sun drenched late Summer beats, but with less dream, and more pop.

Opening track "Leave In Silence" is another one of their killer heartbreak disco tracks, replete with bizarre reversed samples and luscious basslines, Bell’s impassioned plea to “Don’t look so down, your bad luck is turning’ over sumptuous chillwave beats setting the album up to be a tears on the dancefloor kinda record. Yet the following "Marionette" immediately puts those ideas to one side; using a terse pre-Dare Human League bassline, it's tense, filled and dark, a song where frenetic violins clash dramatically against each other in a nod to traditional Greek Rebitika music whilst Bell snarls “Dripping poison in my wine” while demanding she “Is not your Joan of Arc” before giving the kind of unexpected aggressive scream last heard from Alice Glass on a Crystal Castles record. It’s a surprisingly fierce moment which works thrillingly.

The best track here, and their best track so far, is "Seattle". RPR, a master of subtle but effective monotony, uses a hypnotic synth hookto drive washes of ethereal atmospherics and intricate percussion, a piano line tugs at the heartstrings with Bell excelling with an emotional vocal which manages to stop one step away from ‘80’s power ballad. It’s a killer pop track, both inherently morose and gloriously euphoric at the same time, an absolute masterclass in happy:sad music.

Elsewhere, the title track makes effective use of techno beats and offbeat basslines resulting in their most dancefloor friendly moment to date, while "Dark Light" is glitchy dubstep pop on which the shoegaze cum hip hop beats are so evocative of visions of beaches you can almost feel the last rays of a day on the sands working their magic on you before they make way for the night.

Philokalia isn’t a huge shift away from their previous material, and although it’s clear that RPR’s complex production ethic has continued, he can also mask this so what you’re listening to sounds way more simple than it actually is. That's no mean feat. If tear-stained pop music is your thing, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better than this in 2017. - The Line Of Best Fit

"Keep Shelly in Athens"

It's only week three of January and already we've got enough great new music to fill one side of a mixtape: RKO, Star Slinger, Beat Connection, Odd Future, Hiss Golden Messenger, Cloud Nothings, Jessica Lee Mayfield and G-Sides. Here's a perfect way to kickstart side two, although having said that, the five tracks we've heard by today's new band are all so fine we would struggle to pick just one.

Then again, Keep Shelly in Athens excel in one of our favourite musical genres: melancholy disco. We might have guessed we'd like them: their debut UK single is, after all, being released by the excellent Transparent. Like Summer Camp, who we did almost exactly a year ago today, KSIA want to keep things mysterious, releasing little information about themselves. They may not actually be from Athens at all, and they may not be a duo, but the sound they make does suggest a classic boy-girl pairing. They are said to comprise Sarah P, a 21-year-old studying acting and singing in the Greek capital, and her male partner: a self-styled "bedroom musician, remixer and music freak" called RPR (we were even given the Greek spelling of his name, perhaps to further throw us off the scent).

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Speculation aside, this is immediately striking electro-pop led by haunting female vocals. The evocative nature of this downcast dance music is reflected in the title of their debut UK single, Hauntin' Me. Think early solo Tracey Thorn backed by a reverb-heavy guitar and a trumpet. It's breathtaking. The melody is, surely accidentally, Slide Away by Oasis, but the historical precedents are the doleful Balearica of St Etienne or Club 8. Or think Portishead if they were forced at gunpoint to write the theme tune to a documentary about acid house. Meanwhile, the sound effects towards the end, the bleeps and such, are like distress signals.

Song to Cheer You Up, the single B-side, is more plaintive techno with a budget-feel that we love. We also love the singer's Sarah Cracknell-ish voice: so unforced and dispassionate, the opposite of today's show-off brats, every weary whisper and sigh suggesting a lifetime of sorrow and pain. On Cremona Memories, her voice is treated, not by Auto-Tune but whatever it takes to turn it into a muezzin wail. If St Etienne are about evoking memories of a London so idyllic it's almost illusory, Keep Shelly do the same for every European beach resort, from Ayia Napa to Ibiza. This is the sound of lack and loss, of what My Bloody Valentine termed "emptiness inside". It'll transform your recent holiday romance into the most resonant bliss imaginable.

The buzz: "A shimmering, sexy-smooth, Balearic pop dream, perfect for soundtracking all the lingering yearning and regret of your next late-night comedown" – Gorilla Vs Bear.

The truth: They'll make you happy to feel sad.

Most likely to: Haunt you.

Least likely to: Cheer you up.

What to buy: The single Hauntin' Me/Song to Cheer You Up is released by Transparent on 21 February.

File next to: Sally Shapiro, Club 8, Nite Jewel, Still Corners.

Links: - The Guardian

"Keep Shelly in Athens - Philokalia"

Conflicting features of sound and philosophy form the core of Keep Shelly in Athens' latest album, ‘Philokalia'. Despite the word ‘philokalia' meaning 'love of beauty', its narrative explores the doomed experience of a poisonous infatuation, delivered by haunting vocals, bass-driven synths and sinister lyrics. The tale of obsession in this album is far from being a thing of beauty, but the music itself certainly has its moments.

Striking dichotomies are revealed throughout, beginning with 'Leave in Silence''s sense of calm resignation. While the album's introduction comfortably demonstrates the duo's customary domain of lighter 'dream-pop', this is immediately pursued by the high-energy, highly-strung 'Marionette' - which channels Crystal Castles - and consequently shocks the album to life. The track confidently perpetuates the stance that Keep Shelly in Athens are capable of creating music which flits between the menacing and the serene. Subsequent tracks follow suit, like ‘Dark Light', which effectively combines heavy electronic bass with bursts of angelic chorus, illuminating the classical struggle between good and evil, a recurring theme throughout the LP.

Although not strictly a concept album, the title track ‘Philokalia' provides a key moment to reflect on the progressively fatalistic narrative. With extended instrumental segments buoyed by loops and synths reminiscent of 80s New Wave electro-pop, tensions rise rather than diffuse, and the album's intended philosophical significance is given a chance to simmer just below the surface.

New frontwoman Jessica Bell's resounding vocals are a vital component which contribute to the album's ominous quality. Her lyric repetitions often result in sounding wonderfully like a witch casting some kind of hex, particularly in the final track, ‘Believe'.

‘Philokalia' is distinguished by its relentless energy and vocal prevalence, making this album more accosting and encompassing than any other that Keep Shelly in Athens have released to date. - Dork


"In Love With Dusk" 12" EP (Forest Family Records / USA)-- 2010

"Hauntin' Me" 7" single (Transparent / UK) -- 2011

KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS cassette - tape release (Sixteen Tambourines / Japan) -- 2011



The ethereal and swirling sounds of the ambient influenced pop of Greece's Keep Shelly in Athens captures the transient feelings of city life and the inevitable passing of time. With lush melodic beats and dreamy vocals Keep Shelly's production is an accessible and lighthearted entry into the world of down-tempo electronica and Dream Pop. 
With previous releases on labels including Cascine, Forest Family Records, Transparent Records, Planet Mu and Friends of Friends, the duo have already transported their whimsical arrangements and soothing productions across the globe, including performances at Coachella FestivalParklife Festival, Brighton's The Great Escape Festival and Austin's Fun Fun Fun.

​In addition to their own releases they have also done official remixes for Tycho (Ghostly International), Blood Diamonds (4AD), Steve Mason (Domino) and many more...
Keep Shelly in Athens are RPR and the Aussie award-winning novelist and poet Jessica Bell.

 ​Key Points: 

• Three full length albums, three EP's and three 7" singles. 

• Four North American and three European headline tours. Performed in 63 cities in 18 countries so far.

• “Fractals”, "Flyway" and "Lazy Noon" reached #1 on Hype Machine charts.

Press Quotes:
“They’ll make you happy to feel sad.”
The Guardian 

"A shimmering, sexy-smooth, Balearic pop dream, perfect for soundtracking
all the lingering yearning and regret of your next late-night comedown."
 Gorilla Vs Bear
"You'll be hard pressed to find anything better than 'Philokalia' in 2017."
The Line Of Best Fit

"Philokalia is more accosting and encompassing than any record
Keep Shelly in Athens have released to date." 
Dork Magazine

"Keep Shelly in Athens are never anything less than enthralling."
Clash Music

“...downtempo, Balearic-tinged sounds that sound like what would happen if someone tried to remake Air’s Moon Safari to correspond with the present day’s fashions…”

"...soothes and spooks in equal measure...blissful.”
Dazed and Confused

"...floats like a sweet Saint Etienne dream shattered by devastatingly melancholy trumpet sighs."

"It s not just a mood of vacation relaxing over a clear calendar, but of not owning a calendar, not worrying that time exists."
 The Fader