One of the most unexpected and pleasant surprises of the year so far is a stunning new collaboration between a pair of sound artists from separate continents – Dalot (Maria Papadomanolaki), originally from Greece and currently based in London, and Sound Awakener (Nhung Nguyen) from Hanoi, Vietnam. Imaginatively conceived and elegantly packaged, Little Things presents a pastiche of sonic artifacts and divergent personal narratives transfigured into wondrous inner landscapes that become wholly immersive for the listener.
It starts from ground-level interactions, field recordings of soundwalks in parks, on the streets, hydrophones in rivers and contact microphones on bridges and delicately moves to the ethereal…The album creates a journey for the listener; a journey of changes between the two artists’ lives; the changes in seasons, life-events, ordinary moments and creative processes that affected the perspectives and emotional states within which this album was produced. In ‘Little Things’ the two artists offer an adventurous exploration of internal landscapes through sound and memory, the light and shadow encountered within. – Fluid Audio
Festen is the third solo work by Manos Milonakis, a composer/producer/performer and architect born & raised in the Greek port city of Thessaloniki. It is his original score for the theatrical adaptation of Thomas Vinterberg’s 1998 film of the same name which premiered last November at the National Theatre of Northern Greece. Milonakis spent 3 months of theatrical rehearsals and studio work fusing the sounds of piano, persephone, synthesizer, glockenspiel, violin, viola, cello, guitar, and theremin with programmed beats and loop processing into his score which has now been marvelously condensed into album form for release by Moderna Records.
Sound In Silence is a small DIY record label based in Athens, Greece that has been releasing limited editions presented in collectible handmade packaging since 2006. Featured here are four of their most recent releases by moshimoss & stabilo, anthéne, bvdub, and (ghost). I also recommend browsing through the rest of their Bandcamp catalog where you’ll find gems by artists such as Wil Bolton, Caught in the Wake Forever, Good Weather for an Airstrike, and North Atlantic Drift.
It was difficult not to become giddy at the prospects when this collaboration between Siavash Amini and Zenjungle (Phil Gardelis) was first announced by Flaming Pines. These are two of the most potent and expressive voices in experimental ambient and drone music on the scene today and the idea of them joining creative forces was tantalizing to say the least. While it would not be wrong to say the end result exceeded my expectations, it is probably more accurate to say it obliterated them with the stunning and imaginative work of fearsome beauty that is Topology of Figments. The abstract concept behind the record is the vivid exploration of the characters, places, and memories we invent and which become part of our personal and shared identities. Siavash and Phil explain it this way:
“Sometimes we cannot separate the imagined colors, textures, spaces, or even smells from what actually existed or exists.It’ s in such activities that we create spaces never imagined before; hallways, valleys, rooms, textures on a wall, a howling distant sound in a giant metropolis. These spaces can be thought of as explored but not owned by any person. No one has ever made claim to them. In these tracks we have tried to imagine some of such places, live in them for a while, walk their paths without ever stopping for too long. This album reflects how we understand many of these imaginary lands, leaving them behind as they were (are).”
Four distinctive artists and four distinctive albums. But there are common threads here that make for especially immersive listening – profound stillness, sumptuously layered atmospheres, and expressive drones that suspend time while invoking reflection & reminiscence. Featuring recent or upcoming releases by Anthéne (Brad Deschamps), Benoît Pioulard (aka Thomas Meluch), Russel Glynn, and Zenjungle (Phil Gardelis).
The experience of being a parent, or even just the prospect of it, can endow one with a profound 360-degree view of life, a fluid consciousness that is simultaneously nostalgic for the past and acutely sensitive to the present, while focused keenly on the future. On her latest full-length record as dalot, Greek-born experimental musician Maria Papadomanolaki has distilled this life-changing awakening into captivating musical form with mutogibito now out on n5MD.
While her previous solo effort on the label, Ancestors (2013), looked almost solely backward through a melancholic ambient/modern classical lens, mutogibito is a much brighter, even playful, album that is multi-referential on a number of levels and finds her embracing multitudinous musical influences and experiences with a vibrant forward-looking optimism.
In Mutogibito, it is frequently difficult to tell who is actually the composer: Dalot herself as a sound artist in 2016, the teen Dalot music collector of the late 90s, the abstract and yet unformed new-born Athena baby, Dalot’s long-time collaborators, the parade of influences and the history of ambient music, the passing of time itself. The listener is invited to immerse themselves in it and bring their own aural experiences, adding yet another layer to the cyclical multi-referential nature of the album – n5MD
Flaming Pines label founder Kate Carr has developed a highly regarded and multi-faceted creative practice “centered on articulating the relationship between people and place through sound”. In addition to her own sound work, she has curated a variety of wonderful conceptual series, the latest of which has seemingly unlimited potential despite its ostensibly diminutive name – Tiny Portraits.
In Listening to Noise and Silence, Salomé Voeglin talks of soundscape compositions occupying a site ‘between preservation and invention’ – an attempt by the composer or field recordist to retain the essence of a site inevitably results via the processes of recording, composition and listening in the creation of somewhere new. Tiny Portraits asks each participant to dwell on these connections and disconnections between sound and place, representation and invention by starting somewhere small, somewhere overlooked or obscure, and to interrogate this site using sound. – Kate Carr
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
Zenjungle is the musical alias of musician and artist Phil Gardelis based in Athens, Greece. He has been quite busy of late, with a number of solo albums & EPs, collaborations, not to mention his graphic art which includes logos and album covers. The most recent musical release is Flow, a four track sonic journey on German label Midira Records.
The cover art with its austere geometric concrete imagery, designed by Gardelis himself, is emblematic of the music contained within which brings together deeply atmospheric drones, heavily textural ambient guitar, and the most distinctive aspect of the Zenjungle sound – the saxophone.
Gardelis comes from Athens. A big town, with very noisy and spirited streets. A place where old and new architecture and culture flows together. This is exactly what you can here on this album. Zenjungle uses tenor saxophone, electric guitar, synths and field recordings to create something that flows between ambient, drone, jazz and noise. – Midira Records
Sunday morning listening. ‘Human Theory’ from Miktek, the electronic music project of Greek artist Mihalis Aikaterinis who has released a new full-length album called “Elsewhere”, his first on the outstanding Ultimae Records label. The music is an absorbing blend of cool ambient and lush, downtempo IDM that is a feast for the ears, especially in a pair of quality headphones. This track is available as a free download, but once you hear it, you will most likely want to get your hands & ears on the rest of the 12 tracks which are available as a very reasonably priced digital download or as an attractive CD package. Full information at http://www.ultimae.com/en/news/human-theory-by-miktek-free-download.html