Thanos Chrysakis, Dario Bernal-Villegas, Oli Mayne
Duration 60.48 | Released February 2008
Palimpsesto is the result of real-time compositions (in other words improvisations); a palimpsest of interwoven sonorities and aural structurings, based on two classes of sounds, electronic, and percussive (pitched/unpitched).
Is music but a palimpsest in the air? A moment to moment of writing and erasing different temporal layers? A coexistence of what we have accumulated, and how we relate, and respond to the instruments and to each other, in the course of a musical encounter? If I was to describe this CD with two words, I would prefer to call it a coloured palimpsest.
Vibraphone, Live-electronics, Marimba, Inside/string piano, Prepared piano
Drums, Marimba, Bass-drum/cymbals, Inside/string piano
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.
Darío Bernal-Villegas is a composer, improviser and drummer from Mexico City. Improvisation has been an essential part in his work as composer and performer. Many of his pieces deal with improvisation, as his aim is to create an intense, creative interaction between the performer and the score; in other words, creating the conditions for a more intense dialogue between the performer and the composer.As an improviser he has worked with musicians like Raúl Tudón, (Tambuco Percussion Group, México), Wade Matthews (USA, Spain) Thanos Chrysakis (Greece), Sebastian Lexer (Germany) Oli Mayne (UK), David Plans Casal (Spain) among others. Nowadays, he is working with the Mexican improvising collective Generación Espontánea and with the composer Tom Corona in his group “The Coming Burguers”.
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.
Julian Cowley, THE WIRE 291
Thanos Chrysakis has attracted some attention as an installation artist and electroacoustic composer with a particular interest in music's spatial dimension. He also plays vibraphone, and the glistening colouristic sonorities of that instrument pervade Palimpsesto. These nine pieces, recorded at Goldsmiths College in London, also feauture Mexican percussionist Dario Bernal Villegas and Oli Mayne, who takes on the vibraphonist's role on four tracks while Chrysakis plays prepared piano.
Chrysakis has in effect transferred an electroacoustic musician's refined concern for timbre into this instrumental context. The nature of the vibraphone, bowed as well as struck, allows him to foreground relationships of attack and decay, clang or chime and fading pulsation. Its metallic character and variable tremolo contrast especially with the more introverted wooden tones of the marimba used by Bernal Villegas. Prepared piano occupies a kind of sonic middle ground between these two percussive voices, and the drummer's occasional use of a standard kit adds other sound qualities and rhythmic trajectories.
Some pieces, such as 'Opiophobia', are vividly figured, teasing away at repeated phrases in ways that suggest affinities with minimalism; at times, as on 'Entrain II', a rarefied jazz feel emerges. Elsewhere the music is more abstract with an overt air of exploratory research into acoustic microcosms.
Pattern matters, but fundamentally 'Palimpsesto' engages with sounds in themselves - it's for listeners who are inquisitive along those lines rather than devotees of any particular genre.
Stacey Sewell, Furthernoise.org
Deriving from the Greek for ‘again’ and ‘to rub smooth’, a palimpsest is, traditionally, a parchment that has been rubbed clean and then reused, each re-writing leaving its own faint traces. The musicians featured on Palimpsesto have set out to achieve this through sound:
Is music but a palimpsest in the air? A moment to moment of writing and erasing different temporal layers? A coexistence of what we have accumulated, and how we relate, and respond to the instruments and to each other, in the course of a musical encounter? - Thanos Chrysakis
Palimpsesto is a collaboration between Thanos Chrysakis (vibraphone, live electronics, marimba, prepared piano), Dario Bernal Villegas (drums, marimba, bass-drum/cymbals, inside piano) and Oli Mayne on vibraphone and was recorded at Goldsmiths’ Electronic Music Studios between 2006-7.
Tuned percussion forms the backbone of many tracks, but Palimpsesto varies from quietly melodic to intense and visceral. Tracks such as ‘Opiophobia’ play with rhythm and fixed pitches whereas the opening track ‘Terse Symmetry’ explores the piling up and then rubbing away of percussive timbres. It’s easy to imagine this disc as a slightly warped work of early minimalism, like a Philip Glass record that’s been left out in the elements for a few weeks; with ‘Checkmate’ the record has begun to curl a little at the edges, whereas with the grooves for ‘Fountains of Violet’ have picked up some grit and scratches.
‘Phosphoros’ draws in the listener through fragile, spindly melodic fragments occasionally interrupted by delicate noises. The sound of breathing betrays a human presence hidden in the background. The strange pulsations of ‘Sonoric Clay’ are like trying to free one’s feet from sonic mud, an incredibly physical gesture that would be even more striking performed live.
Palimpsesto blurs the boundary between ‘natural’ or live acoustic sound and processed electronic materials. This is achieved through the choice of instrumentation, which is heavily reliant on percussion, often played in an unconventional manner. The tracks are improvisations, seemingly leading to an occasional sparseness, and this combination of textures and timbres is in some ways reminiscent of early pioneers of electronic music. At its best this approach allows a fascinating exploration of sonorities, but at other times seems to lose its way. [AT note: you can't find your way, if you don't lose it at some point!]
For me, Palimpsesto is less a writing over and more of a rubbing away, slowly revealing something hidden. Sounds weave patterns and then fade, leaving only their reverberations - in the air and in the sounds that follow.
Nicola Catalano, BLOW UP 124
Dopo le sperimentazioni elettroacustiche del solo Chrysakis (cfr. "Klage", BU #115) le misurate improvvisazioni in trio con Dario Bernal Villegas (percussioni, marimba, corde di pianoforte) e Oli Mayne (vibrafono). Dal canto suo l'autore di origine greca, con l'ausilio di live-electronics, piano preparato e gli stessi strumenti degli altri due eccettuate le percussioni, dirige un dialogo collettivo intimo ed astratto, certo più interessante quando si opta per la leggerezza dell'insieme e, citiamo il titolo d'apertura, la tersa simmetria (il profumo balinese di Checkmate, i tocchi delicatamente acquosi di Opiophobia etc.) rispetto ai più minacciosi accumuli di aperto carattere jazzistico come nelle due sezioni di Entrain. Buone intuizioni, ma ancora necessità di aggiustamenti. (6/7)
Startling Moniker - It's Too Damn Early radio-programme, Community Radio, Southern Illinois, 29.3.08
Thanos Chrysakis, Dario Bernal Villegas, and Oli Mayne claim the second release for the Aural Terrains label with “Palimpsesto”; a disc exploring deeply within prepared piano, vibraphone, drums, and electronics. As with Chrysakis’ “Klage” album, the recording quality is perfect – a real bonus for those who will enjoy reveling amongst the glassine structures with headphones.