The first time I came across Greek artist and Organized Sound From Thessaloniki label chief Kostis Kilymis was through his duo album “The Good Life” with Sarah Hughes, an album I compared to “a hot bath after a long, tiring day”. His new solo record “Bethnal Greener” retains something of that soothing, quietening air, being not quite as reduced as the aforementioned collaboration, but certainly more minimal than some of the more beat-oriented releases with which it shares a label, Rekem Records. Kilymis tends to work with no-input mixing desk, feedback, and some simple effects boxes, and from what I can tell this is mostly the case also here.
Occasionally there are sounds that resemble other sounds, such as wind whistling through an alley, the low rumble of an underground train, or the slow, steady pulse of a heartbeat. Kilymis has an interest in field recording, and has a habit of including a track on his solo albums that is based around such material: on “Bethnal Greener” it’s ‘Ground Loops (you are here)’, in which men are heard shouting at a distance, followed by dripping, microphonic wind noise, and what sounds like a fighter jet passing overhead. Most of the music, however, comes in the form of pattering rhythms, fuzz, rushes of compressed air, subsonic hum, and long, pitched rings — the classic tones and timbres of feedback-based noise music.
It’s the ways in which Kilymis structures this material and the mood of quiet absorption he creates that makes “Bethnal Greener” so compelling. He doesn’t set out to savage your ear drums; his noise is the sort that gently lures you in, seeping into your bloodstream. Muted and grey, much like the titular Bethnal Green in the winter, the album nonetheless opens ears and mind to another kind of space and a different passage through time. This music isn’t dreamlike — it has all the solidity of flashing electrical current and vibrating air — but it does, in a way, offer access to a specific, concrete world of its own, one well worth exploring.