Thanos Chrysakis, Oli Mayne, Zsolt Sőrés a.k.a Ahad, Jerry Wigens
Duration 56.36 | Released May 2011
Max/MSP + electronics
Vibraphone + electronics
Objects + Viola + electronics
Recorded June 3, 2010
By SZABOLCS PUHA AND CSABA FÜLE
At L1 danceLab, BUDAPEST
Editing and Mastering at MERIDIAN STUDIO
By THANOS CHRYSAKIS
About the Artists
Thanos Chrysakis’ output consists of composition, performance, and installation. He was born in Athens in 1971. After residing in the UK between 1998–2014 he moved in 2015 to Belarus.
With several albums to his name his work has appeared in festivals and events in several countries, including CYNETart Festival, Festspielhaus Hellerau – Dresden, Diapason Gallery – New York, XXII “Sound Ways” International New Music Festival – St Petersburg, Spektrum – Berlin, Artus Contemporary Arts Studio – Budapest, CRUCE Gallery – Madrid, Fylkingen – Stockholm, Relative (Cross) Hearings festival – Budapest, ZEPPELIN festival – Barcelona, Festival Futura 2013 – Crest-Drôme, XIII Festival Internacional de Música Nueva – Monterrey, Areté Gallery – Brooklyn-New York, Nádor Terem – Budapest, Utzon Centre – Aalborg, Oosterkerk – Amsterdam, Störung festival – Barcelona, Fabricca del Vapore – Milan, Center for New Music – San Francisco, Västerås Konstmuseum –Västerås, BMIC Cutting Edge concert series - The Warehouse – London.
His music has been also frequently aired by RAI Radio 3, BBC Radio 3, Radio Portugal Antenna 2, Radio Nacional de España, FM Brussel, Polskie Radio (Warsaw), Elektramusic (Strasbourg), Undae! Radio and Onda Sonora - Radio Circulo de Bellas Artes (CBA) (Madrid). He composes for electronic and acoustic instruments as well environmental sounds, focusing on the structural, aesthetic and transfigured capacity of sonic matter.
His work was amongst the selected works at the International Competition de Musique et d'Art Sonore Electroacoustiques de Bourges 2005, in the category œuvre d'art sonore électroacoustique, while received an honorary mention in 2006 at the 7th International Electroacoustic Competition Musica Viva in Lisbon.
Oli Mayne is an English experimental vibraphone and analogue synthesizer player, with an emphasis on intense, physical performances. Currently based in Budapest, he first encountered improvisation in a duo with a Brazilian pianist whilst living in Nottingham, England, but got more seriously involved in the experimental side of things after moving to London, attending the weekly improvisation workshops run by Eddie Prevost of legendary improvisation group AMM. He has appeared at various London improvisation events and venues, including the Evan Parker/ Eddie Prevost/ Martin Davidson run 'Freedom of the city' festival (twice), and nights put on by Adam Bohman/ Bohman Brothers and the Society for Promotion of New Music; he has also performed in Nottingham, Brighton and Birmingham. Since arriving in Budapest, he has performed in a trio featuring Zsolt Sőrés and Zsolt Varga; forthcoming plans include a dance collaboration, and further performances with a new quartet featuring Sőrés, Adam Bohman (England), and Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg (Belgium). He also plays keyboards and percussion; other musical activities include the British space rock band Litmus, the newly formed Budapest-based trance group Rasasound, and classically-orientated percussion quartet Brake Drum Assembly.
Zsolt Sőrés is an improviser, electroacoustic, experimental and noise musician and composer, sound artist, editor and curator. His music is characterized by formation strategies, immediate transitions and the use of unstable acoustic sources which can develop towards a sound economy. He is interested in the dramaturgy of the specific and a sense of suspension in sound perception and production.
Current projects: duo with Jean-Hervé Péron Art-Errorist (Faust), Inconsolable Ghost (w/ Hilary Jeffery, Gideon Kiers and others), Ahad & ChrS (w/ Christian Skjødt), collaborations w/ Franz Hautzinger (since 2000), I Belong to the Band (w/ Adam Bohman, Oli Mayne, Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg), ZSB (w/ Richard Barrett, Milana Zarić), duo with Christian Kobi (and a trio w/ him and Tim Hodgkinson), Sonic Mountain (w/ Christian Kobi, Klaus Filip, Franz Hautzinger, Tomas Korber, Hans Koch, Thomas Peter, Taku Sugimoto).
Since 2015 he is a member of the HYPERION International Ensemble (Artistic Directors : Ana-Maria Avram, Iancu Dumitrescu).
In 2012 he was the Hungarian curator of the Sound Exchange – Experimental Music Cultures in Central and Eastern Europe project while in 2014 Sőrés curated the first collective international sound installation exhibition in Hungary called On the Edge of Perceptibility – Sound Art at Kunsthalle, Budapest.
Jerry Wigens is an improviser and composer who plays guitar and clarinet. Most of his musical activity has taken place in London although he has also performed in Zurich, Geneva, Berlin and Athens. His interest in improvisation started at an early age and he attended John Stevens' workshops at the age of nineteen. Since then he has worked in various musical contexts including rock, jazz and contemporary classical and has performed with Eddie Prevost, George Lewis, Sylvia Hallett and Walter Cardew, among many others. He has also had work performed by guitarist Alan Thomas and contemporary ensemble Vamos. He has studied with Roger Redgate and participates in Eddie Prévost's workshop sessions which he has occasionally convened in Prévost's absence. He also plays guitar in prog/improv band Astrakan.
Julien Heraud, Improv Sphere - 2 July 2011
Aural Terrains publie ici la réunion de 4 artistes que je ne connais pas des masses: Thanos Chrysakis, musicien d'origine grecque récemment basé en Angleterre joue régulièrement avec Wade Matthews en duo ou en trio, et gère le label Aural Terrains; Jerry Wigens, également londonien, a déjà joué avec Eddie Prevost et George Lewis; quant à Oli Mayne, anglais basé à Budapest, il joue aux côtés de Zsolt Sőrés (alias Ahad), qui est un proche collaborateur de Franz Hautzinger. Ainsi, tous les quatre, ils forment le quartet international électroacoustique Vertex, un ensemble concentré sur la musique improvisée et l'exploration de textures neuves.
Quatre pièces proches et similaires tout en étant très différentes, tout comme les timbres qui, sans être très innovants, forment tout de même une ambiance générale très particulière. Comment ce quartet a su parvenir à ces résultats paradoxaux et déstabilisants? Tout d'abord, il y a cette volonté de ne jamais se noyer dans un son homogène comme souvent dans l'EAI; les instruments conservent leurs techniques idiomatiques et la matière électronique ne tente surtout pas de les imiter, il n'y a jamais aucun phénomène d'imitation ni tentative de fusionnement, chacun improvise à sa manière et la singularité naît de la confrontation des approches. Les approches sont d'ailleurs très individualistes en un certain sens, mais l'écoute n'est pas absente, car chaque musicien dialogue, questionne et répond assez attentivement dans ce jeu hétéroclite d'oppositions, de confrontations et de superpositions.
L'agencement des timbres prend alors des allures parfois chaotiques et anarchistes, l'architecture proposée par ce quartet n'offre que peu de prises avec les habitudes musicales (issues de la musique improvisée ou non), et se déploie dans des espaces très interstitielles et hétérogènes, faits d'assemblements et de réunions étranges et inattendus tels le vibraphone qui trille sur des grésillements électroniques tout en répondant à une guitare volubile, atonale et tout autant dénuée d'effets que d'expressions. Vertex explore un territoire sonore aux allures cosmiques et glaciales, où le temps, l'espace, le signifiant, la musique (au sens restreint), la raison et la logique semblent ne plus avoir prises, un territoire très spontané et original qui semblerait presque être aux origines de la musique tant il paraît dénué d'influences.
Le plus remarquable, dans ce disque, c'est à mon avis, cet équilibre constant dans la gestion et l'agencement des sources sonores, il n'y a jamais prédominance de l'électronique sur l'acoustique, et inversement; et cet équilibre permet un son global hétéroclite, riche et éclaté où chaque individualité est présente sans être absorbée par le collectif. Les timbres se marient très bien sans se noyer dans une masse sonore où les strates deviennent indistinctes, l'individualité de chacun est conservée intégralement tout au long de ces quatre pièces. Une succession de différentes structures dynamiques et riches qui s'unifient dans cette volonté commune de toujours conserver et déployer ses caractéristiques personnelles et essentielles. Un disque assez froid certes et très étrange, bizarre, mais original, radical, propre et clair.
James Wyness - 06.07.2011
This album is yet another excellent addition to my cd library. What we have here is a series of full-on free improvisations using a remarkable range and variety of sound sources. As is often the case the ‘electronics’ are unspecified which is a pity because, given that the larger share of listeners to this type of material will be the ‘converted’, it wouldn’t be too nerdy to let us know what electronics are at work.
The attention to design and a dash of originality in the artwork is evident, as always with an Aural Terrains release.
In my personal universe of music and musical opinions, with all the multiple odious comparisons and analogies, one thought dominates – that there will never be a unified theory of contemporary music. At one end of the spectrum we have the big bang, exemplified by embarrassing nonsense like U2, much heat, some light, lots of random energy, so close yet so tantalisingly far from Godhead. Then we have the fascinating teeming infinity of ever smaller energy particles (with even odder names) one of the most interesting and unpredictable being the world of contemporary free improvisation. A stretched analogy, but it works for me, and never shall the two worlds meet.
We have four tracks from a fine team of seasoned players:-
Vertex 1 begins as a pointillistic crickety tapestry over a high frequency pedal. In the mix I can hear some distorted circuitry of the kind I’ve dabbled with myself, perhaps made from simple oscillators, whose amplitude and other modulations are highly animated and dynamic.
The electric guitar begins to assert itself, to my ears, as a lead instrument with backing. Somewhere in there lies the success of the electric guitar, in particular played fairly dry and clean. This requires some measure of ‘facing up to’ as certain stylistic elements in the playing here might be read, in the context of the other instrumentation, as too referential (especially for guitarists) and very much in the shadow of Derek Bailey. Being fretted, the guitar is all too 12-tone equal temperament. This isn’t to say he can’t play the thing, he most certainly can, and amazingly well at that. His style is candid, direct and captivating. Some phrases merge beautifully with other players’ gestures. Personally, I’m not too fond of the dry bland tone, but it’s better than a recognisable distorted or chorused sound. One bonus – he isn’t Fennesz, or an imitator, so I don’t risk any diabetic or premature ejaculation problems… and please remember that these are only first impressions.
Things settle at points into some wonderful acousmatic passages, just on the cusp of recognisability, one of the strengths of group work like this – where (as it implies on the tin) you are taken to completely new and wonderful aural terrains.
As we proceed the guitar tips into a free jazz idiom, reminding me of Scofield and Frisell at points, not a bad thing, though perhaps overplayed. This is counterbalanced by a fantastic tapestry of shifting foreground/background and some truly meaningful interplay, in the sense of a solid and tight contemporary jazz ensemble.
A fine sense of pace and drama becomes evident as the piece unfolds – we begin to witness personal and collective narratives unveiling themselves. The vibraphone is very welcome – I would have gratefully welcomed its ‘glue’ and shimmer earlier, as I would some glue from passages of silence (note to self – remember to copyright the phrase ‘silence is my glue’ for future use).
We come in to land as all comes to rest, except for the guitarist who has the musical nouse to steer us home very tastefully by gracing us with some light harmonics.
Vertex 2 begins with the guitar harmonics we left in Vertex 1. Some great percussive and electronic gestures emerge, some determinate, others less so. Particular elements of guitar technique become more recognisable – the use of the tremelo arm for example. The introduction of distorted sounds take me to a more filmic space, perhaps a scene from a country noir movie where the redneck psycho decides that it’s time for payback. It’s great stuff really. Some low frequency squarewaves and noise ramp up the intensity. There seems to be some evidence of profound listening going on between the players, for example where a good strong electronic dronal background is established for the guitar to play against. The colour, excitement, suspense and drama of this excellent track makes it sound composed at times – someone needs to make the movie. The guitar has a tighter focus, is much more restricted (though still free enough). Bear in mind that to the unaccustomed listener we’re still talking about absolute mayhem here! A predictable modulated square wave drops the energy levels a little; this comes over as a clichéd sound, especially when foregrounded, and would possibly be more effective as a point intrusion. We are treated to a vocal sample or two, exquisitely placed in the mix. The viola bowscrapes which come along later seem to echo the square wave timbre in some way. To my ears the music loses its way towards the end, or maybe goes on a bit too long, in particular after such effective tension in the first two thirds. A poor cat finds itself being strangled over some free chordal vamping on guitar – very sweet. Then lovely vibes at the end which again make me ask why we can’t have more of this – it’s such a versatile instrument.
Vertex 3 opens with the vibes. This could be a twisted lounge jazz ensemble in rehearsal with some diy painting and decorating (using steam scrapers) under way at the bar. One could create a new genre of literature to describe this stuff.
Another poor innocent creature seems to be undergoing ‘extraordinary rendition’ involving a drill of some sort – oh it’s a clarinet, then a viola – very good indeed. This harks back to a trend in Aural Terrain’s releases which favours improvisation on acoustic instruments. On that point it is amazing just what an instrument can conjur up. Take the clarinet – all sorts of connotations and narratives there. Then we are treated to hints of free jazz, objects being activated, struck and caressed. At this point, the way I’m reading this complex album and trying to rationalise it in some way, is that we have patterns emerging – one of those patterns being a predominant use of acoustic instruments with electronic/percussive object-based backing.
There follows some very sensitive and clever interplay, evidence of exploring timbral montages and trying to move the spectrum morphologically, live/in real time, which is quite an achievement in my opinion and transcends the gestural free-for-all approach often found elsewhere.
The pace, the change of tack are excellent. Some sounds are just that tad bland and hackneyed but then there’s so much variety that this doesn’t take away too much from the quality of the listening experience. This might sound a bit odd and random, but I would love to hear this ensemble behind the screen at a puppetry or shadow puppetry performance (don’t underestimate this art form).
We end with sirens, clarinet and percussion. I even detected shades of new complexity; Birtwistle also came to mind.
With Vertex 4 we have another free jazz introduction, soon dominated by guitar, again Bailey-esque at times but with enough distinctiveness to stand out as a clear original voice, at last. Can you talk of a free improvising guitarist having a style? Well, Jerry Wigens certainly has – it grows on you. The call and response passages are sharp and tight, we have some wonderful interplay between guitar and vibraphone, then a deeply introspective passage unfolds. Can we have more of this please?
Next more stasis, repetition and ‘musical’ (in a conventional sense) development: recognisable chords and a measure of metrical stability. This more orthodox syntax, an interesting departure, offers ambivalent readings – ‘we can do this’, or perhaps we’ve reached the point of communal desire to settle down for a spell, because it is a settling down, this snuggling into recognisable idiomatic cushions. The straight into a shade too much self indulgence from guitar. As one myself, I know only too well that guitarists can get locked into something that’s interesting for them but perhaps less so for the listener. But then not everyone will hear it like me. I would say though that it’s miles better than some of the bottled sh*te that passes for free improvisation which I’ve had to endure in the past (and I too have a criminal record in this respect).
If someone asked me to point them to new music I’d unapologetically direct them to this sort of thing because it is inventive, playful, often inscrutable, seemingly random (but not) – the list goes on. I wish I had musicians like this living near me. As a solo improviser it can be challenging to render the ideas inside your head with limited means. Here we have that phenomenon where a string quartet can sound like an orchestra – at times you’d never know there were only four of them.
Finally, buy this album, because it’s a gem of a work – repeat listenings will bring unique rewards: deft interplay, timbral clashes, a superior investigation of chance versus design.
Dan Warburton, The WIRE, #331 (Sep 11)
Vertex is less attractive, [compare to Parállaxis] its rich electronic textures relegated to the background behind Sőrés's viola and Wigens's fidgety guitar. And no matter how hard Oli Mayne tries to find new ways of coaxing sounds outs of that vibraphone, it still ends up sounding like something that belongs in a smoky Parisian nightclub in a Jean-Pierre Melville movie.
Kasper T. Toeplitz — Revue & Corrigée #103 | mars 2015
Vertex, c’est Thanos Chrysakis (électronique), Oli Mayne (vibraphone et électronique), Zsolt Sörés (alto, électronique et objets) et Jerry Wingens (guitare et clarinette), et c’est de la musique improvisée, clairement. Et ça commence comme de la musique improvisée “classique” (d’aujourd’hui) – des petits sons, des bruits, grincements, une esthétique somme toute bien connue. Et puis la musique s’ouvre, part vers d’autres territoires, plus de profondeur, plus de pugnacité – ce n’est pas plus fluide, peut-être au contraire plus rocailleux, mais ça coule mieux et dans des courants plus personnels, ça gratte plus, ça gagne en matière musicale au lieu de s’arrêter à un jeu avec des timbres, et ça devient une chose bien plus passionnante qu’il n’y paraissait au début, même si elle n’exempte pas d’agacements, notamment
dans le jeu omniprésent et pas toujours inspiré de la guitare et de la clarinette (oui, c’est le même musicien). Mais parler de Vertex, c’était aussi une tentative de parler du travail de Zsolt Sörés, qui est étonnant : c’est même son étrangeté qui fait qu’on peine à le percevoir sur ce disque. Pour l’avoir vu tout récemment en concert, ce qu’il fait avec son violon alto ressemble à tout sauf à des sons de violon : on n’est plus dans le détournement de l’instrument, on est dans son au-delà. On aurait aimé un disque solo de l’altiste…