Thanos Chrysakis :: laptop computer, synthesizer
Kurt Liedwart :: laptop computer
Nuno Torres :: alto saxophone
Ernesto Rodrigues :: viola
Record at the Art Total Sound Recording Studio by Alexandr Semenov and Vitaly Seljavin, June 2016 Moscow
Mixed and mastered by Thanos Chrysakis at Meridian Studio
Graphic design by Carlos Santos
Production by Ernesto Rodrigues
Special thanks to Alexei Borisov and Dimitry Vasilyev
Creative Sources 2017
When it comes to using electronics in improvisation (or as part of a compositional basis for improvising, à la Braxton’s Diamond Curtain Wall Music), I’ve basically taken the attitude that if the result is engaging, I’ll engage with it. I admit to something of a soft spot for acoustic albums, though, particularly as musicians develop some of the physical techniques for broadening their timbral pallets to include sonorities derived from electronic music.
Of course, considering that I so often interact with music via recordings, there is usually some element of “electronics” already involved anyway in what I actually hear. That said, I’m still emphasizing the element of spontaneous group interaction, rather than some fully rendered composition or process.
Within this “improvising with electronics” idiom, Thanos Chrysakis had already stood out to me for his sense of line & form, basically the way that he sculpts sounds & brings them to one’s attention within a broad tapestry. This is true, once again, on Skiagraphía, a new improvising quartet release on Creative Sources, and a collaboration with Ernesto Rodrigues (with whom Chrysakis had collaborated most recently on Exaíphnes, a tightly conceived & brightly colored album, first discussed here in September 2015) & Kurt Liedwart of Moscow.
Filling out the quartet is Nuno Torres (alto), who has appeared on many similar projects with Rodrigues, including the rather comparable Primary Envelopment, with Wade Matthews on electronics. The latter was recorded in the first half of 2014 (discussed here in March 2015), and features an especially wide pitch canvas, from growling to piercing tones, amid which the listener often finds themselves surrounded. Although it includes a range of pitches, including timbres from helicopters & foghorns (metaphorically speaking) to whistling teapots, Skiagraphía proceeds more from the middle (i.e. human ranges), and shows Chrysakis’s talent for rendering “strange” sounds into a coherent foreground presence. In that quality, it’s rather similar to Carved Water, recorded later in 2014 (and discussed here this past January): Although the latter album has a different emphasis, particularly around wind articulation, and a resulting liveliness, it features a remarkably similar ensemble of two electronics artists (including Chrysakis) with viola & saxophone.
It’s an earlier recording, though, with Skiagraphía originating in Moscow only this past June. I had heard Kurt Liedwart (b.1977) in a couple of albums previously, including with AMM legend Keith Rowe, but they hadn’t really spoken to me: In particular, his work often seems to remain rather atmospheric, exploring the edge of audibility & articulation. That isn’t the case with Chrysakis involved, and following on the “sound installation” concerns of Carved Water, Skiagraphía (“silhouette”) can really capture one’s attention, sometimes with urgency. Although it’s a short album, I’ve found it to be consistently potent, with a strongly interactive dynamic across a range of timbral combinations, as explored by these experienced improvisers. There is a sonic richness that is never overwhelming, yet is also difficult to qualify amidst many shifting resonances: It makes for a satisfying haunting (or interrogation of haunting), somehow. Todd McComb (medieval.org)