Thursday, August 27, 2015

CD Reviews: Ithaka "Saltwater Nomad"

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February 29, 2008
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Are you doing in life what you was meant to?
Are you doing in life what you was sent to?
Are you living the life that you wanna live?
Are you living your life in a way to win?

--Ithaka from "The Life You Wanna Live?"(Saltwater Nomad)

The Chinese philosopher, Confucius once said that a wise man doesn't feel the need to differentiate between work or hobby. And more importantly he doesn't feel the need to reveal to others whether or not he is working or playing.

Observing from distance at the effortless way the multi-artistic Ithaka (aka Darin Pappas) traverses at ease between all of his chosen mediums of expression; [music, sculpture, writing and photography] it appears his life's journey is a soulful balancing act somewhere between the worlds of euphoric creation and aquatic diversion. But on closer inspection, looking at the expertise and attention to detail of any Ithaka project, it becomes evident the man is getting down to first-degree serious business, even if he himself isn't aware of it.

Born in southern California, the hip hop visionary and visual expressionist spent his early youth surfing LA and Orange Counties, but soon began his global wanderings - not only in pursuit of higher quality waves but of profound cultural experiences, both shore side and deep in the cities. For Ithaka, marriage of surf and street comes naturally.

Listen to a track from Ithaka's Album, Saltwater Nomad.
After long blocks of time in Greece, Japan and other exotic locales, Ith arrived in Portugal in July of 1992 with a surfboard, wetsuit, Nikon FE camera and very little else. In addition to sampling the region's wealth of epic surf and making friends, he started exhibiting his photographs, creating new sculptures, publishing his short stories, and even began working as a radio host on a national music program. He left the region six years later with two studio albums under his belt and nine Portuguese Grammy nominations. An unlikely place to start an international music career, but Ithaka has not only been influenced by his many Siddharthian journeys, he has become a product of them. And he doesn't exactly reinvent himself at each intercontinental stop along the path, he merely keeps adding layers, carpet-bagging along the way newly learned skills and infinite wealth of mental archeology, the bases for most of his songs, stories and visuals. But even though global as they come as a human being, artist and surfer, he'll be the first to tell you it's not necessary to go far away to get away. He says,

It's all about perception.
How you look at things.
How you absorb things.
Some of the wisest
and most interesting people
I've ever met have barely even
left their home state.
It¹s about breaking routine

And breaking routine is what Ithaka and his bag of tricks is all about. In contrast to his last audio work,Recorded in Rio (a melodic, mostly live-instrument hip hop album released in 2004), the new cd,SALTWATER NOMAD, his fifth full-length, goes to the polar opposite and is largely an electronic production. Recorded in Brazil with producer Tito Gomes, the two serve up twelve clean, bumping, minimalist hip hop story-songs.

Vocal-wise, Ithaka's fluid punctuality can be considered in outstanding company like Everlast, Michael Franti and the late Tupac. And although sonically, Saltwater Nomad will be considered a pop/rap record, lyrically don't expect generic Pimp & Ho/22"-rim/gansta-stylin' references. Ith successfully personalizes the genre, using it as a soundtrack for his straight-up, no bullshit, autobiographical story-telling, walking new ground across subjects like spirituality, global politics, nostalgia, lust, immigration, positive thinking, diabolic roommates (comedy), the intricate complexities of long lasting boy/girl unity and his passion of choice,wave-riding. All scribed with the Ithman's patented crafty, post-Beat Generation urban lyricism.

Breaking routine is what Ithaka and his bag of tricks is all about.
I ride since I was a small fry
Sine the day mammy multiplied
I ride to keep my soul alive
I'll ride until the day, the day that I die
I ride 'cuz I like the view from the tube
I ride 'cuz I like the color blue
I ride to keep my mojo intact
So I got the goods to deliver
When my baby gets back

Ithaka's music has been featured in several surfing films (including the award winning, Timmy Turner's Second Thoughts), and the hit basketball video game NBA 2K7. His hip-hop classic, "Escape From The City Of Angels"? appeared in Columbia Picture's feature film, The Replacement Killers.

For more info see:

Saltwater Nomad (and other Ithaka releases) may be purchased at:

A major retrospective from Ithaka's body of sculpture work entitled, The Reincarnation Of A Surfboard (1989 until present) is currently being shown at the prestigious WOA gallery in Lisbon, Portugal.


Ithaka's Album Stellafly - On Amazon

Editorial Reviews

Ithaka is the Alter-ego of American Photographer, Artist and Singer Darin Pappas, Conceived During the Period He Lived in Lisbon in the Early Nineties. 'stellafly', their Second Album, Released 1997, was Considered by Many One of the Finest Alternative/ Indie Albums Ever Recorded in Portugal, Revealing Pappas as an Extraordinary Talented Writer and Rapper with a Very Clear Vision of What his Urban, Rhythmic Music Should Present.

Track: So Get Up (Junior's Factory Mix) Featuring Ithaka

Blog posts : "junior vasquez"

So Get Up (Junior's Factory Mix)

June 5, 2011
TrackSo Get Up (Junior's Factory Mix)
Artist: Underground Sound of Lisbon
Year: 1994
Label: TRIBAL America
So Get Up was a hard-hitting anthem by Portuguese house producers DJ Vibe (António "Tó" Pereira) & Doctor J (Rui da Silva) recording as the Underground Sound of Lisbon.  The track is widely known for its spoken-word vocals by poet-musician Darin Pappas, alternatively known as Korvorwong or Ithaka, who loudly demands the audience to GET UP! (as the end of the Earth is upon us).  Junior Vasquez's Factory Mix samples Shake It from Jark Prongo (1993) and Cajmere's Percolator (1992).

I'll give the nod to Junior Vasquez's version, but Danny Tenaglia came strong with his dark and electro-heavy mix, officially titled Danny's In The Light We Sleep Mix: