Ten years have passed since the mesmerizingly haunting and thematic sounds of Syriana's Road To Damascus was released on Real World Records: the rich east meets west texture of the music on that album complimented by some wonderfully evocative film footage in their live shows and digital downloads.
In those ten years the warfare and tragedy that has taken over Syria has affected the futures and histories of the people there, and the instigators of Syriana - Nick 'Dubulah' Page and Bernard O'Neill - have looked on helplessly as the civilian districts they had walked peacefully around when recording some of the original album in Damascus have been ravaged. Sadly, they have also learnt of the deaths of musicians they worked with and members of their families.
In response to this and to help the Greek island communities who are dealing directly to help the daily needs of the huge influx of refugees from Syria, this EP, which is available on download only, has been put together with 100% of profits from sales going towards International Rescue: Greece and all the musicians giving their work free of charge. Nick, who is half-Greek, the guitarist/bassist of Transglobal Underground and the visionary behind Dub Colossus, is the Greek connection here, and it was he who had the idea for this project.
The track that is remixed, 'Ipiros', was recorded for the original album but only made it as a remix on the vinyl A Life in Film. Nick had discovered this traditional Greek tune while spending childhood holidays with his mother's family in Greece.
The S40 remix which appears here had been recorded originally by Nick's relative, the Greek musician Ahetas, and was the only non-original piece of music recorded and performed by Syriana, giving them a link to a part of the world which is playing a huge role in the lives of Syrian people fleeing the horror in their country - namely Greece.
Bernard O'Neill, much respected Irish double bassist, composer and musical director, explained that Nick and Ahetas had been working '...on a project called Xaos which is one of the main acts at WOMAD this year, and in view of that we decided that we would do the EP based around this track which never made it onto the album. And secondly because we then could invite other Greek musicians to work with us as well as a lot of the other Real World artists. So that's why I've got Justin Adams and people like that...'
As well as multi-talented guitarist Adams, he means people such as saxophonist Ben Somers from Dub Colossus, a jazz remix from the original album's sound engineer Toby Mills, and the superb vocalists Maria Joao Branco from Portugal and Greek singer Kalia Lyraki who both appear on one of Bernard's two remixes.
Road To Damascus was a soundtrack, a meeting point of cultures, a kind of film noir, seductive, spy-movie score with its dramatically swooping Pan-Arabic orchestral strings, sonorous double bass, percussion and qanun, but here on the EP there was no brief. As Bernard says: 'I did my remix very much hoping that Nico (Piazza, Italian film maker) would make a film of it, so that was quite filmic. The other one I just made according to the material that I actually had, and Nick used a huge number of guitars on his. Like any compilation of remixes it's just whatever people felt they could contribute.'
Speaking of the very important visual aspect of Syriana, Nico Piazza, who took the original footage in Damascus ten years ago, has made an 11-minute film to go with Bernard's main remix on the EP.
'Basically what Nico's done,' explains Bernard, 'is taken out all the images that he'd filmed in Damascus and various other towns of people just doing ordinary everyday things, like people in the hamam, people weaving, people metal-beating, people baking, people drinking tea, people eating ice cream, all the usual things, children going to school. Just to reinforce the normality of what Damascus was like.'
As well as this, Larissa Korobova, who took the photographs for the original album, EP and vinyl covers, has made all her photographs that she took in Syria before the war available to Real World.
So, listen, look, immerse yourselves, and enjoy this powerful, hauntingly beautiful music and help the Greek communities who are helping these people recover from their trauma and upheaval...
International Rescue began its work in Greece in July 2015, and has since assisted 31,000 people affected by the refugee crisis.
During the past two years, 1.3 million people fleeing conflict and persecution have traveled through Greece in search of safety and a better life in Europe. The majority of refugees who have traveled to Greece by sea come from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, countries roiled by conflict.
As well as camp management, water, and sanitation, International Rescue provides refugees with information about services, legal rights, asylum, relocation and family reunification, and works to ensure access to counseling services and therapeutic and recreational activities.
Find out more at Rescue.org