Originally from Athens and currently based in Berlin, composer and musician Hior Chronik has a had very productive year with his name appearing on at least 3 full length albums and collaborating with a dizzying array of artists from the fields of modern classical, ambient, and electronic music. Perhaps none is more beautiful or affecting as Taking the Veil released in May on Kitchen. Label. The album is uniquely accompanied by a visual narrative in the form of an art book created by photographer Amber Ortolano, who also features as the recurring role of singer on several of the tracks.
The subject in the visual narrative of Taking the Veil is of young women imprisoned by their flow of thoughts and their dark imagination. The delicate beauty and ambiguous gestures of feminine protagonists serve as powerful metaphors of the veil as the title of the album reflects – They reveal and conceal all at once, reviving emotions conjured by a sense of mystery. The album underlines this atmosphere that probe the consciousness imbued with burnished hues of something half-remembered and half-dreamed – Kitchen Label
The globe-spanning list of participating artists includes Field Rotation (Christoph Berg), Sophie Hutchings, Lüüp, Aaron Martin, Yasushi Yoshida, Yoshinori Takezawa, Daphne Farazi, Halo (Pasquale Riviezzo), Seiji Takahashi, and Familiar Trees. But despite all those creative hands in the pot, some of whose style is distinctly recognizable, Taking the Veil is no hodgepodge. It is a cohesive and compelling work, attributable no doubt to Chronik’s consistent compositional vision and the binding element of Ortolano’s visual & vocal narrative.
The metaphorical veil in this narrative is not opaque; it is translucent. Eyes on both sides see through it. But its presence alters perceptions and creates separation, tentativeness, and conflict. The poignancy of this conflicted metaphor permeates the music which predominantly has an air of fragility, self-reflection, and melancholic longing. We hear this in the vocal selections – a version of the children’s song ‘London Bridges; a remake of Little Dragon’s ‘Twice’, and ‘Sailing Away’ – all sung by Ortolano – and the haunting ‘Can You Hear’ sung by Familiar Trees vocalist Fabiola Sanchez.
Around this framework, profoundly beautiful instrumental interludes abound – Sophie Hutchings elegant piano lines in ‘Nest of Autumn; Lüüp‘s bucolic flute on ‘Cold Winter Morning’; the pining strings of Field Rotation on ‘Simple is Beautiful’ and ‘Oblivion’; the tender swells Yasushi Yoshida lends to ‘Small Wonders’; Halo‘s crystalline meditations on ‘The Sense We Make’; the wistful cellos of Daphne Farazi on ‘When the Night Comes’ and Aaron Martin on ‘Quiet Inside Your Chest’; the ethereal atmospheres Seiji Takahashi crafts for ‘Between Two Rooms’. Yoshinori Takezawa offers a moment of brightness and joy midway through in the waltzing ‘We Are All Snowflakes’ and Chronik chooses to close the album with the solo piano piece ‘The Ghost You Left Behind’.
Taking the Veil is a rich offering conceptually, sonically, and visually. It is is collaboration executed to perfection to create one unified work of art. For all the struggle and melancholy it portrays, the redemptive beauty cannot help but shine through.
‘Nest of Autumn’ (featuring Sophie Hutchings)
‘Simple is Beautiful’ (featuring Field Rotatation)