Thanos Chrysakis, Wade Matthews
Duration 49.19 | Released April 2012
LAPTOP COMPUTER &
DIGITAL SYNTHESIS &
RECORDED DEC 2010
AT SMILING COW STUDIOS, MADRID
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, Academy of Arts / M:AI (Museum für Architektur und Ingenieurkunst NRW)– Berlin, Diapason Gallery – New York, ohrenhoch - der Geräuschladen Gallery – Berlin Neukölln, XXII “Sound Ways” International New Music Festival – St Petersburg, Artus Contemporary Arts Studio – Budapest, CRUCE Gallery – Madrid, Fylkingen – Stockholm, Relative (Cross) Hearings festival – Budapest, ZEPPELIN festival – Barcelona, Futura 2013 – Drôme, XIII Festival Internacional de Música Nueva – Monterrey, Oosterkerk – Amsterdam, Störung festival – Barcelona, 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.
Advanced academic studies in composition helped French-born American musician Wade Matthews realize he was not interested in telling other people what or how to play. In 1989, he moved from New York to Madrid and became part of the international improv community. Drawing on his knowledge of electronic music, he approached the bass clarinet and alto flute as “acoustic synthesizers”, rethinking their sonic possibilities, phrasing, and relation to breath in a musical language based on real-time creation. When faster processors made laptop synthesis viable, Matthews returned to his first love, tweaking a virtual synthesizer to allow very rapid control of sound parameters for solo playing and dialog with others. In 2007, he founded INTERMEDIA 28 with photographer Adam Lubroth and guitarist Julio Camarena. There, he began to combine field recordings with electronic synthesis in a 2-computer setup that has since become his main instrument.
Massimo Ricci - Touching Extremes, 5.June.2012
There are various reasons for liking this combined endeavour by Chrysakis (laptop, electronics) and Matthews (digital synthesis, field recordings). The most directly striking is the naturalness springing from certain complicated developments, not necessarily a given in these situations where, quite frequently, scholarly mouldiness tends to overpower the necessity of conveying an accessible communication. But the fact that, in the same record, one can find implausibly embroiled networks of ricocheting frequencies alternated to appearances by barking dogs and a garrulous rooster gives you a clue about the artists’ inherent humour. This type of smartness in the mind of an electroacoustic assembler is indispensable, thus guaranteeing that the resultant music will never be heavy on the ears. The dynamic opposition is dramatic but not overly convulsive, the work on the distant regions of the audible gamut is carried out with an accurate idea of what the audience should “experience” more than “hear”. For Chrysakis and Matthews, the main line seems to reside in the preservation of a continuous logic, even in the sections where the nervousness of the textural regeneration would appear to fragment common sense and coherence a bit. But it’s exactly in those moments that the couple throws us threads of light that we can easily follow to regain the eventually lost balance amidst all those amorphous signals and codes.
Julien Héraud - Improv Sphere, 12.06.2012
At first we find some melodies, a harmonious and rhythmic background layer of familiar sounds. Chrysakis & Matthews combine electronic and digital sources to produce a rich music in which synthesis crosses paths with sine waves and warm rounded layers which form the harmonic basis for a song of bells, birds, roosters, dogs and so on. But we sometimes hear strange syntheses quite close to the frequencies of a prepared piano or bass clarinet. At least, one has the impression of hearing a palette of effects that seems to reflect the instruments in the same way that a deforming mirror would. Still, a few musical elements subsist.
Six pieces that form six paintings; mental sketches that depict nothing outside themselves and are aligned mainly with atmosphere and setting. Like the music for an imaginary and daring film invented by Matthews and Chrysakis. But little by little, as almost each piece progresses, the musical references collapse, the rhythms disappear and the imitations are hidden by overgrown synthesis—even the linearity of the atmospheres tends to disappear. At that point, the music of Wade Matthews and Thanos Chrysakis boils down to its essence: a texture and the atmosphere it creates.
Another very successful aspect, beyond their astonishing and exceptional inventiveness in creating timbres and their absorbent atmospheres, is the form of the dialog between these two musicians. It is not always easy to know who is doing what in this duo, but it is not at all a fusion in which everything gets mixed up. The Chrysakis/Matthews duo manages to find a surprising balance between osmosis and opposition. There is clear, sensitive interaction but that does not at all mean that each musician’s creations confound or drown in the other’s. Each of them makes sonic room for his collaborator, responding and enriching it in a very respectful way without even truly opposing it. A risky, slippery but successful interactive process.
In sum, Numen is first and foremost a profusion of exceptionally creative and inventive textures, but it is also just as much an ensemble of absorbing and mesmerizing atmospheres. It is also a terrain where the two musicians reach a balanced understanding that neither opposes nor merges but manages to establish an egalitarian dialog in which their respective subjectivities neither limit nor encroach upon each other. Recommended.
Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic - Summer 2012
Numen is the fourth Wade Matthews release on Chrysakis's Aural Terrains imprint, after Enantio-Dromia, Parállaxis and Punto Cero Aragón. For those familiar with his work over the past few years (and if you're not, you ought to be), the modus operandi is nothing new: the Madrid-based American expat takes field recordings and subjects them to serious digital reworking. The source material – fragments of popular music, dogs barking, cocks crowing, church bells, what have you (play spot the sample if you like) – is discernible from time to time, but, like the gamelan and gagaku Stockhausen brazenly pillaged for his Telemusik, it's subsumed into a structure beyond its original context. Combined with Chrysakis's squelchy, glistening supercolliding soundfiles, the information level climbs dangerously close to the Max(/MSP), but the musicians never topple over the cliff into sludgy confusion: every detail – and there are literally millions – is there for a reason, and if you're prepared to take the time you'll find out what it is. Splendid stuff.
Z.K. Slabý, His Voice magazine - 1.10.2012
Thanos Chrysakis a Wade Matthews za poslední roky už z tajnosnubných prohlubin kulis světa vydolovali leckterou zvukovou eskapádu (namátkou: Chrysakis: Errant Waves, 2005, Inscapes, 2006, Is There, Is There Not?, 2006, Klage, 2007 a Subterranean Sky, 2010 na Aural Terrains, Magma, Eismos a Errina, 2011; Matthews: Quartet # 1, 2007, Arethusa, 2009, Punto Cero Aragón a Parállaxis, 2010 na Aural Terrains, společně – Enantio Dromia, 2008). Jejich společné album Numen vychází samozřejmě z dosavadních zkušeností a spádů obou osnovatelů, nicméně se mi jeví snad ještě zadíravěji skrumážovým promísením laptopu, elektroniky a okolních zvuků od kvokání slepice či kokrhání kohouta přes poštěkávání psisek či zaumné hlasy po šelestění, svištění, nemilostné, až nemilosrdné harašení a cinkylinkování. Když takhle uvedu zdroje, může se to jevit jako schválnostní souznění mírnyx-týrnyx, ale opak je pravdou. Slyšíme chřestýše zvuků, hnízdění, vibrování, ťupťající vějičky, plynulé rozdrobování, dmýchání, pozhasínávání zdůli se valících tónů, je to pomalá jemná láva nad propastností zděsivělého kostničení, hledající východiska v chlácholivém nazeměvzetí. Lovíme důsažnost proplétajících se, ba prošpikovaných zvukových atavismů, zašmodrchaných, zhmožděných, sirénově přiťukávajících, nenamíchnutě namíchávaných, prohrabování zvukových uhlíků, ale i hudbolamy pod vysokým proudem, odbíjení orloje katedrály, lovení na vějičky zdrclých tónů (a snad i protónů či neutronů), které se probíjejí do smírčího kutání, nebo se lomí do vesmírného řinčivého bzukotu, smýčení a prohrabování. Chrysakis a Matthews se tu nadbytečně neukvapíkují, naopak si místy hračičkují s pazvučením na půl úvazku, atakují nás dýmovnicemi třeštění v diminuendech, na jejich hudebním teploměru je ustavičně proměnlivo, je to rozechvívané prohroužení, balancování, drkotání, rozrážení a porážení obvyklostí, dokud se vše neponoří do ulity ztichlosti. K čemu to všechno? Kdo chce najít odpověď, dozajista si ji najde. Neboť Chrysakis svůj label Aural Terrains hned na počátku uvedl slovy: „Potřebujeme spoluúčast posluchače.“
Guillaume Tarche © Le son du grisli - 14.7.2012
Si Thanos Chrysakis (laptop & electronics) et Wade Matthews (synthèse digitale & field recordings) se connaissent bien – ils ont déjà donné au label, mais en trio avec Dario Bernal-Villegas, Enantio_Dromia (2008) ou Parállaxis (2010) – leur connivence, ici, ne dévoile que progressivement toute sa force : c'est au fil des six pièces du disque, et à mesure que la pompe est tenue à distance, qu'elle convainc.
Ainsi les tentations planantes, spectaculaires ou solennelles de Chrysakis (carillons & orgues de cristal – tout de même moins pulvérulents que dans Magma, solo publié l'an passé chez Monochrome Vision) trouvent-elles dans les contributions de Matthews un contrepoint concret (voire animalier) bienvenu et souvent poétique. La qualité onirique qui ne semblait pas aller de soi au début se gagne ; les flux et ressacs, électroniques ou organiques, se mêlent comme ces sirènes aux glaçons qui tintent dans le fleuve ; l'oreille accorde et mixe. Toute narration évacuée, l'évocation puis l'abstraction chuintante finissent de brouiller les sources, jusqu'à évanouissement.
If Thanos Chrysakis (laptop & electronics) and Wade Matthews (digital synthesis and field recordings) know each other well—they have already recorded together for this label in trio with Darío Bernal-Villegas on Enantio_Dromia (2008) and Parállaxis (2010)— their connivance here only gradually reveals its strength, becoming truly convincing over the course of this disk’s six tracks, as they keep all pompousness at bay.
Thus Chrysakis’ floating, showy or solemn temptations (glass chimes and organs—although less ethereal than in Magma, the solo he brought out on Monochrome Vision last year) find a concrete (even animal) counterpoint in Matthews’ contribution, which is welcome and often poetic. The dreamy quality that seems less than self-evident at the beginning builds; the electronic or organic ebbs and flows combine like fog horns on the water as the ear harmonizes and mixes them. Stripped of all narrative, evocation and hissing abstraction sweep away the sources until the final fade.
James Wyness - 12.06.2012
Numen [49:19] is a 2012 release on Aural Terrains. Here we have laptop and electronics from Thanos Chrysakis, digital synthesis and field recordings from Wade Matthews. The pair have played together in a variety of outfits and combinations over the years as well as in their own solo projects. Their collective music is characterised above all by a highly developed sense of originality, inventiveness and what I’d call an irrepressible investigation into ever new combinations of sound sources. It also steers away from what I’d call an academic acousmatic idiom, largely through the use of humour in the choice of field recordings, animal sounds, vocal intrusions and the like and in the deliberate avoidance of ‘development’ in the historico-musical sense that a sonata develops previously introduced material. Any development to be found is reserved for the longer pieces, where a feeling of intensity emerges as part of the pacing and of the ebb and flow of the work.
There are six pieces, ranging in duration from less than three minutes to seventeen minutes, each adopting a characteristic approach to sound creation which leans towards the gestural and the linear. By gestural I mean that the sounds are clearly tailored, shaped and presented, each is distinctive and in general distinguishable from the other. By linear I mean that the texture is one where sounds come and go, either contrasting with or blending in well with neighbouring sounds. Any polyphonic or contrapuntal textures are clear yet incidental to the procession of highly wrought sounds. There is no focus on a deep investigation of morphology or density.
With this in mind any discussion would naturally settle on the kinds of sounds that the artists have created, digitally or otherwise, or selected, in the case of field recordings. It’s here, in my opinion, that the deepest appreciation of the album will lie. I should stress that what Chrysakis and Matthews have achieved here requires a high level of musical and technical skill. I’ve had to endure some truly horrible work which would seem to rely on throwing a bunch of gestures together from a range of acoustic and electronic instruments in the hope that something vaguely contemporary results. On first listening I thought (and was surprised, knowing the artists’ work as well as I do) that Numen was woven from a similar cloth. But, setting aside my personal taste in timbral matters, on subsequent auditions it becomes clear that many of the sounds are beautifully crafted, even deeply sensual in places, that the combinations are rigorously selected in terms of offering contrasts in frequency range, shape and movement. And all improvised to boot. This is an album that deserves close listening on a good sound system, many times over.
I’ve noticed from previous work a preference for metallic timbres and indeed these are foregrounded in several of the pieces. Track 4 in particular presents a highly effective contrast between chime and bell timbres on the one hand and churning watery sounds on the other. Of all the individual pieces this one in particular hints at some sort of timbral development. Track 5 offers similar fare at about five minutes in. The other notable feature is the manner in which electronics, digital synthesis and field recordings are brought together. None dominates the sound field, leaving the listener with an impression of integrity similar to that found in a well balanced chamber ensemble.
Finally, the aforementioned recommended close listening will uncover the fact that very few if any of the sounds are hackneyed (meaning trite, dull or stereotyped). This is partly due to the artists’ attention to detail and largely due to the deployment of a high degree of inventiveness which can be heard at every level, from the boldest foregrounded sound to the subtlest background murmur.