Adventurous Greek artists
2015 may have been a difficult year for Greece in terms of socioeconomics but it has also been another strong year within the realms of adventurous music. This is a round-up of 10+1 notable releases and sound projects.
Audio / Visual…
2015 has been a busy year for Thanasis Kaproulias aka Novi_sad who composed music to both Yorgos Zois’ feature film Interruption, which premiered at the 72nd Venice Film Festival, and Konstantina Kotzamani’s short film Yellow Fieber, shown at the 68th Locarno Film Festival. He also found time to produce, together with Isaac Niemand, the audio visual project International Internal Catastrophes http://novi-sad.net/projects/iic-7/ (see above clip) a projects of two parts, the first based on a wide range of sonic phenomena from Iceland whereas the second is based on vibration recordings from Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. Also included is the voice of a woman mourning her murdered children during the civil was in Bosnia.
The tracks were recorded as one-take improvisations over two afternoons, with no predefined structure or compositional plan, and no overdubs or any other studio processing, other than mixing and mastering. A secondary, silent narrative runs across the album, in the form of selected verses originally published by Stefanou on unsaidnow.tumblr.com, and inserted as verbal commentary between the tracks.
Following Ramifications, a collaboration with Z’EV which resulted in a mammoth two-hour long track of processed Organ recordings, Ereignis further submerges us to Marinos Koutsomichalis’ adventurous explorations of single-source sound phenomena. Recorded at EMS in Stockholm, Ereignis is part of the broader Marinos Koutsomichalis è stato eliminato which revolves around an unconditional interrogation of a Serge modular system.
Employing a series of non-compositional stratagems, Koutsomichalis attempted to “eliminate” himself so that “the machine’s foundational material attributes are eventually accelerated and foregrounded”. The result is two long-form works of pure analogue phase-shifting tones, that gradually evolve from a “tour de force” of uninterrupted modulations, to the rough-hewn conclusion of Ereignis#2.
Ereignis, a Heideggerian term roughly defined as “coming into view”, is reached in a quasi-religious manner through an intoxicating process of self-elimination that eventually leads to the artist’s submission to the machine.
Eziak is a three-member band from Chalkida formed by Nektarious Manaras, Vangelis Varis and Xenofontas Athanasiou. While No Place Land was recorded in 2013, with contributions from Zanjungle (saxophone), Alexandros Karlis (double bass) and Giannis Papadinos (violin), the mixing process took over a year with the final product released on G.O.D. Records in January 2015.
Greek musician Michalis Moschoutis delivers his debut full-length release with a radical exploration of the sonic possibilities of a classical guitar. Entirely acoustic, tracked in just eight improvised takes, Nylon presents Moschoutis’s idiosyncratic and forceful style of playing, at times sounding like a physical attack to the guitar.
Nylon finds Moschoutis switching from plucking to bowing and strumming while sustaining high intensity and a continuous sense of forward motion. Very often virtuosity is about the refined technical skills that disguise the instrument’s material characteristics. Nylon on the other hand proposes a virtuosity manifesting the materiality and the physicality involved in the performance. Moschoutis transcends the instrument’s supposed limitations by bringing forth and magnifying all the usually undesirable noises that reveal its constructive features. The snapping of loose strings across the frets, the screeches of the nylon strings, accidental fingernail scratches and various buzzing sounds from the lower wire-round strings, become as important as the guitar’s deep tones. Or simply in Moschoutis’s own words, “in Nylon the guitar sounds exactly what it is; a sonorous piece of wood with 6 strings attached to it”.
2015 has been a busy year for Phil Gardelis, aka Zenjungle, the Athens based multi-instrumentalist with releases on Midira Records (Flow) and Futuresequence (All Of Our Yesterdays). My Childhood Is My Only Home is part of Kate Carr’s Tiny Portraits series on Flaming Pine, small renderings of place in memory and sound.
Rekem Records presents the latest release by label producer Kostis Kilymis. Living in London since 2012, Bethnal Greener perfectly documents life in the capital, “this Roman shell”. The possibilities and the impossible, the dirt and the light, the highs and the lows.
‘Bethnal Greener’ showcases his most varied work to date, combing the delicacy and form of his lowercase improvised electronics with the full bodied sonic noise palette found on the 2012 Entr’acte release, More Noise Ahead. The key to the album could be considered to be ‘The Ghost In The Typewriter (for Leif Elggren)’, encapsulating flickering panned buzzing, obnoxious then subtle sine waves, sculpted feedback, and what could well be the rumblings of a contact mic’d tower block, creating an 12-minute opus that the dedicatee would be proud of.
Following up from the 2010 Rebetika album http://unsounds.com/shop/rebetika , A Life Is A Billion Heartbeats, continues Yannis Kyriakides & Andy Moor’s exploration and mining of the rich and mysterious terrain of Greek Rebetika music from early 20th century.
The songs and improvisations on this LP have grown and expanded in repertoire and range of expression, giving more space for rhythmic and hypnotic elements to come to the fore. The music travels from more composed and arranged renditions of the old tunes, to completely improvised pieces that try to capture a sense of the gesture and tonalities of the source music, albeit with a contemporary edge. ?
The material derives again from the golden period of Rebetika music, the late 20’s and early 30’s, including voices such as Rita Abatzi, Markos Vamvakaris, Giorgos Batis and the great guitarist and singer Kostas Bezos. The title of the LP ‘A life is a Billion Heartbeats’ alludes to the transient sense of life found in their songs, and of the many of the musicians in the underground of Greek life in those turbulent times.
Into the Light Records continue to shine light on the undiscovered heritage of Greek electronic music, highlighting the work of prolific Greek composer George Theodorakis on the label’s third archival release. “The Rules of the Game” features mostly unreleased studio recordings Theodorakis made between 1978 and 1996, with the addition of selected material taken from his sought-after ‘Margo’ and ‘Sima’ LPs.
In “Life Is Now” contemporary electronic composition goes hand in hand with neo-romantic style through ambient paths that lead to a refined soundtrack, which reflects the relationship of the artist with the urban landscape. From the immersive stillness and minimalism of the piano and the classical beauty of strings to the restless beats of the synthesizers, the journey is long and the images and feelings change as the sounds move inwards and outwards, creating a unique atmosphere, intimate and unfathomable at the same time.
Mohammad is the project of Coti K, ILIOS and Nikos Veliotis, working on the principles of inter-modulation using contra-bass (Coti K.), oscillators (ILIOS) and cello (Nikos Veliotis). After their critically acclaimed 2013 Som Sakrifis on Pan, Mohammad have been releasing their album on the Antifrost label. Segonde Saleco is the third volume of a trilogy that explores the sounds of the geographical area between 34°N – 42°N & 19°E – 29°E.