In a country in as much sociopolitical turmoil as Greece, it was quite refreshing to receive a package from Kostis Kilymis, who manages the Organized Music From Thessaloniki label. It's hard to ignore the international headlines branded about the state of the country. What will eventually transpire in Greece will surely be felt worldwide, and for now I doubt there's a single person living there who hasn't been directly affected.
It's been said that great art can come from times of peril. I can't say for certain if these works then are the products of artists whose world is falling apart around them, so to speak, but I do take this as a ray of hope sent from a a place that's been severely darkened in recent history. So here's to creative perseverance and a realistic solution to get this great country back on its feet. Thank you Kostis, I send my blessings.
Ferran Fages, Robin Hayward, Nikos Veliotos - Tables and Stairs
First up is the three-way collab Tables and Stairs by Ferran Fages, Robin Hayward, and Nikos Veliotos. There wasn't a single name I recognized amongst the lot of these releases so I threw on this disc without knowing what to expect, outside of the music being some product of the combination of sine waves, cello, and microtonal tuba.
The result is far removed from any "classic" improv session, or anything sounding remotely like chamber music. Instead, the single half-hour piece that makes up the album is a rather austere take on the kitchen-sink electroacoustics that Alfredo Costa Monteiro and Ben Owen masterfully put forth on the fantastic Frêle à Vide. I would be surprised if this was the first time these three performers got together, as it sounds as though they've been developing a harmonious relationship for a while; musically speaking that is. From moments of extreme sparsity the piece slowly builds into a long and graceful tonal working of rasping drones and arcing frequencies of slightly higher register. Everything comes together so seamlessly and the timing and transitions between the extended movements are sublime. Well done. Recorded live in an apartment, june 27, 2010.
Michael Johnsen and Pascal Battus - Bitche Session
Next up is a two-way collab by the likes of Michael Johnsen and Pascal Battus, titled (rather awkwardly) as Bitche Session. Like the other releases, little is stated about the work or artists outside of what's being played. This is something I rather like as it adds an extra element of mystery to the sounds within. Compared to the previous disc Bitche Session is far more in the clunky, free-for-all realm of things, with plenty of squiggling sounds and clicks and pops making their way through magnetic pick-ups. Electronics and a saw are also sited as source material. The album has really fine moments of interesting sound combinations, and it's consistent in its scope throughout. However, I found it a lot harder to surf my way into this one despite some of the more unique sounds, as nothing really makes this stand apart from works similar to it, of which there are plenty. And in working with a rather basic template of scattershot-noise techniques, distinguishing yourself from the pack can make all the difference.
Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga - Stroke by Stroke
Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga offers 21 vignettes of highly sculptured sound on Stroke by Stroke. The works here are all acoustic in nature if I gathered right from the liner notes, and sound quite meticulously rendered. Most of these pieces are quite percussive, and sound as if they were captured from simple sound structures, each one designed to produce one type of sound, and thus one piece of the overall puzzle. The repetitive nature of the works lend themselves to the shorter track format, and kudos to Lazaridou-Chatzigoga for being able to pick up on that.
The aforementioned percussion is usually quite rapid and often interlaced with harmonic frequencies and metallic squelching akin to the sound of bowed sheet metal. The jump cuts between tracks make for more than a handful of brilliant transitions, while in between, the segments ring out in a brilliantly shimmering stoicism. Stunning. Do check out this release, and the works of this fine label.
Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga - Sleep Talk by ScrapyardForecast