Ingvar Loco Nordin
Yannis Kyriakides – Antichamber
Durations: CD 1: 75:21; CD 2: 74:21
Track 1. Telegraphic for six instruments, computer and telegraph keys (2007) [16:21]
Karolina Bäter [recorders] – Anna McMichael [violin] – Michel Marang [clarinet] – Reiner van Houdt [synthesizer] – Koen Kaptijn [trombone] – Aslaug Holgersen [contrabass] – Bas Wiegers [conductor]
[To avoid any confusion; the CD text that can be read on some CD players indicate that track 1 on the first CD is Zeimbekiko 1918, whereas Telegraphic comes as no 2, but this is a mistake when typing in the content. The real situation is the one that is stated elsewhere on this release, like on the back of the CD cover. Telegraphic comes first, and then Zeimbekiko.]
Pulsating rods of chocolate; dark chocolate, lighter chocolate, like the columns of air in wind instruments - or like pipes of clay through the ground, sliced and cut and formatted; or nuances of grey, brown and black shooting up and receding hastily in the mist and haze of the conscious moment; a fairyland of candies and tragedy; vibrating planes of consciousness: an erratic, yet state-of-the-art architecture; a chocolate castle architecture. This is Yannis Kyriakades’ Telegraphic.
Like Haruki Murakami writes tremendous novels; like Michio Kaku opens up secret properties of physics, Yannis Kyriakides makes music so delicate and singularly original that I can sustain myself on it for indefinite periods of time. Kyriakides’ sound art is… I do not hesitate… unparalleled. I feel privileged to have access to so much of it. The wonder of it is that I still have to find one weak spot in this great output.
No one else has – so seemingly without effort – succeeded in expressing in sound, in modern art music, in electroacoustics, the beauty that carries me through physics, astronomy, biking, skiing, mountain hiking and dreaming. The music of Yannis Kyriakides opens spaces inside my mind, clarifies the vastness inside the architecture of my soul, igniting that bluish light of heightened awareness.
This is indeed the music for interstellar travel, the majestic, joyous journey of the human race towards that distant type III civilization which Michio Kaku envisions in his book Parallel Worlds, from our present stage of an approximate 0,7 civilization, on the brink of establishing the planetary civilization of a type 1 civilization, of which the Internet and the acceptance of English as a world language are important parts… and those pictures of the Earth and the other planets of the local system, shot from probes traveling the void – and, more importantly, the growing awareness that we in fact do not LIVE in the universe, but that we, matter-of-factly, ARE the universe, in us becoming aware of itself, of being; Being becoming aware of being: The universe pondering itself in terms of general relativity and quantum theory. Immortality passes from anatomy to anatomy.
Kyriakides writes about the piece Telegraphic in the CD booklet. I quote a few paragraphs from his introduction:
“Codes and encryption as a paradigm for music is something that I have been interested in since I was inspired by the number station phenomenon to compose a conSPIracy cantata in 1999 […] A few years ago I became interested in telegraphic code books. […] These codebooks flourished at the height of the industrial revolution, and were mostly a means for sending shorter, cheaper telegrams by substituting single words or numbers for commonly used phrases. […] This piece is based on the physical apparatus of telegraphy […], which officially came to an end in 2006 […].
The six instruments play constantly fluctuating drones through close microphones routed into a mixing desk, where the amplification is gated by telegraph keys, one for each instrument/channel. […] In crude terms it’s like switching the instruments on and off as they are playing. […]”
Kyriakides also explains that the telegraph keys are automated by computer… and this binary, mechanical randomness achieves the rising and sinking chocolate columns I’ve been speaking about; these exquisite, tantalizing sonic temptations – this fairytale barrel organ emitting encoded candy messages from the quantum workings of the innermost realms of reality.
In some ways, this music reminds me of the shortwave soundscape you easily catch while browsing a shortwave receiver, although much sweeter and more dreamy. The chocolate character is hardly found on the receiver, for example. Yannis Kyriakides’ computer-chosen rhythmizations of highpitch, medium-pitched and low-pitched columns of instrumental sonorities flow between thin smearing of the terrain and amassing intensities, like the gradual intensity of thoughts entering a brain in a meditative state, or the sensation of autumn sunlight seeping periodically between passing shreds of clouds, sometimes allowing for longer durations of shade and a chillier wind.
The music contains extremely clear instrumental sonorities, cut-up according to the descriptions above, and the wheezing white noise of perhaps the synthesizer or maybe a by-product of one of the wind instruments.
Sheer beauty is at play, and a high percentage of mysticism, which perhaps opened my analogy to a kind of candy fairytale soundscape.
There is a munching, satisfying fullness to the sound, derived from the uncanny combination of short cut-ups of the wide-spectrum sonorities of recorders, violin, clarinet, trombone and contrabass, with the wildcard of the synthesizer allowing for the quite unforeseen (from the viewpoint of the listener). Wonderful!
Towards the conclusion erratic showers of instrumental whispers spray a shrill, thin highpitch drone with white mist, like in a laundry, as all the other components of the piece have receded. The chocolate is finished, and you squeeze the tinfoil wrapper, aiming it at the closest litter basket as you wander on in thoughts.
Track 2. Zeimbekiko 1918 for violin, electric guitar and soundtrack (on vinyl) (1995 / rev. 2001) [13:00)
Anna McMichael [violin] – Wiek Hijmans [electric guitar]
The brittle drone of the violin – Malcolm Goldstein style! – moves in slow, elastic ascents and descents, while the guitar – Askild Haugland style! – picks a tone or a chord here and there, envisioning not quite regular stakes on an endless Australian – or Icelandic! - horizon (Jon Rose style!)
Into this meditative, inward progression, the familiar surface hiss-and-crackle of an old vinyl is introduced, like light drizzle on an afternoon Somerset public footpath stroll.
The composer gives a solid introduction in the tastefully designed booklet, describing a youth time journey a la Bartók through Greece to discover his musical roots, which in the end perhaps instead, or in addition, had him discover new aspects of music and its various roles in society. The introduction is partly quoted here:
“[…] The inspiration behind this piece is from an old recording of the Zeimbekiko Aivaliotiko recorded by George Macreyannis [violin], V. Katsetos [laouto] and G. Klotserides [santouri] in New York in 1918. It is an instrumental Zeimbekiko in the mode Saba from the island of Ayvali in Asia Minor. Echoes of this recording are heard in the electronic layer of the piece, manipulated and distorted. Phrases occur in the wrong order and are overlaid on top of each other, moments are stretched out and re-sampled, and the surface noise of the gramophone is always on the verge of obliterating the music. The concept is that the medium itself both carries and corrupts the message […]. “
Kyriakides gives his friend Andy Moor a lot of credit for inspiring the writing for guitar here.
The music on Zeimbekiko 1918 offers up that priceless sense of withering boundaries of time, the way I sometimes feel when listening to old recordings from by-gone eras, like the voice of Maria Ivogün (1891 – 1987) on a CD with her recordings from 1916 – 1932 on Nimbus’ Prima Voce Series. It got so strong that I actually, across the decades, through the filter of time, fell in love with this lady, back there around the 1918 of the crackle-and-hiss Zeimbekiko from the island of Ayvali.
Yannis Kyriakides always applies his efforts with a tender and delicate touch, permeating all his work with a lust of lofty accuracy, which is very much apparent here, where the sensation of temporal shifts inside a basic simultaneity of existence meanders like incense through the space-time, lightly applied on the canvas of space with that airy, lofty violin line which Malcolm Goldstein once called “the fragility of line”.
The introduction of hiss from vinyls or perhaps even 78 rpms into the meditation of the violin line and the point applications of coloring guitar picks, like a distortion on the surface of bending time, calls to mind an old favorite of mine, which also pulls and transforms the experience of presently flowing time and historical time; Gilius van Bergeijk’s Over de Dood en de Tijd, which anyone seriously interested in the music of Yannis Kyriakides should acquire as well.
Track 3. Antichamber for string quartet and computer (2002) [15:39]
Anna McMichael [violin 1] – Jacob Plooij [violin 2] – Elisabeth Smalt [viola] – Martijn Vink [cello]
Sharp, guttural incisions slicing through, and then echoing out of time, flickering like light through the foliage of birch trees in May Scandinavia, bouncing like stretching strings, vibrating through our common dimensions. The web of the music slowly catches energy, growing tighter, more toned, like muscles flexing in a morning commercial for naturopathic drugs.
As the minutes pass, however, Kyriakides leaves room for emptinesses here and there, in which you sometimes more sense than hear possible traces of redshifting strokes of the bow shooting off like incredibly distant galaxies accelerating towards the edges of observables. The composer mixes the close and the distant; the loud and the soft, the certain and the vague, the acoustically live and the synthesized into an abstract painting of undecipherable symbols on the inside of your the eyelids. All this, incredibly, amounts to a kind of peacefulness. This music is a flicker of light touches on the massive face of gravity.
Kyriakides talks about the work:
“Antichamber evolved out of material written […] at a time when I was exploring ways of creating polyphony from a single line. In this case the idea was a ‘voice’, which is constantly splintering into four parts and then again into multiple shreds via the live electronics.”
Kyriakides then discusses the development of new ways to hear this music, which we still call ‘chamber music’:
“The development in our spatial perception of music and increased sensitivity to timbral information has somehow taken the place of the traditional parameters. Real architecture spaces have been partially superseded by virtual spaces created with microphones and speakers […]. […] The definition of ‘chamber’ becomes ever more fluid […].
In Antichamber the idea of the space where the music happens is a relevant one. The splintered quartet lines are live sampled, then flattened out and thrown against a two-dimensional space in front of the listening perspective, as if the quartet is casting light reflections on a screen in front of us, or in an adjacent non-linear space.”
Yannis Kyriakides’ Antichamber comes across like a flock of seagulls lifted on the upsurge of the thermals along the face of a giant vertical rock.
Track 4. As They Step Into the Same Rivers for viola, contrabass and iPod shuffle (2007) [12:31]
Mary Oliver [viola] – Rozemarie Heggen [contrabass]
Quote from Heraclitus: “As they step into the same rivers, other and still other waters flow upon them…”
It is impossible not to think about Arvo Pärt as you begin to listen. In style and emotion Kyriakides almost mimics the great Estonian Berliner here. However, there are properties lurking inside this music that clearly are not Pärt’s; dark, scraping undefineables; ghostly shapes shifting form, on the verge of visibility, like alien existences seeping through a dimensional crack; drones heaving like a nighttime ocean slowly turning over, going back to sleep as the Nautilus like an ominous materialization of the dark powers silently penetrates its lower chackras.
Kyriakides on the measures behind this lurking temptation of a soundworld:
“This famous variation of the ‘river’ paradox of the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus is a lovely metaphor for how we can describe the experience of music. There is a constant change (the waters) that defines the existence of sameness (the rivers). In the case of music, one can say this manifests itself in the fluctuation between constant change on one level and sameness on another: an image of sound flux and the space in which it moves. […]
[…] I’m very often drawn to musical narratives that evolve slowly and let our focus shift from one level to another, so any dramatic change occurs in our listening perception and not necessarily in the material itself.
In this piece, Heraclitus’ phrase is encrypted using a 5x5 Polybius square, hence the recurrence of five-note melodic patterns. The same phrase is repeated over and over in gradually changing register and sonority, always oscillating between the viola and contrabass. Over this a random iPod playlist – of silences, static and shifting drones [and] physically modeled string sounds […]”.
Track 5. hYDAtorizon for piano quintet (1998) [17:41]
Nora Mulder [piano] – Anna McMichael [violin 1] – Jacob Plooij [violin 2] – Elisabeth Smalt [viola] – Martijn Vink [cello]
A wooden ambience, resounding like a knock on an oak table in a travelers’ lodge, far away, long ago – and then, after a couple of ascending string plucks, immediately a protruding, seizuring wave motion of smoky violin and cello bowings, elastic, gazing across the lowlands, occasionally defined in the terrain by scattered points of hard notes [the piano or one of the other string instruments], visualized in my mind as old, tilting fence posts from a dissipating rural culture. Much later the direction is filled with fuller measures of sound, stilling the hunger of starving ears, like the thickening oil far off into some paintings by William Turner.
“The floating nature of this piece is inspired by the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides who coined the oxymoron ‘hydatorizon’ (water-rooted) to describe his world in view in both a material and metaphysical sense. He compares the mind to something like floating seaweed – groundless and drifting. […]
Swedish-Italian writer Guido Zeccola touched upon Parmenides extensively in his philosophical, existential novel Dagning (Daybreak) from 1999. I allow myself to quote a short paragraph from the beginning of Zeccola’s novel:
“Det som vi kallar döden är inte ett försvinnande eller en tillintetgörelse, utan ett enkelt ‘gå i moln, en sorts vila för varelsen, för att ting, djur, människor, inte är någonting annat än uppenbarelse av Varat. De ting som vi inte länge ser eller som vi ännu inte ser, har inte förintats och de väntar inte heller på att bli födda. De vilar i Varats frid, Varat som Parmenides föreställer sig som ett klot. Tillblivelsen är enligt Parmenides denna rytm som gör att varelsen ”visar sig” och sedan återgår till den osynliga – för våra ögon – världen som också finns. Det finns en skillnad mellan uppenbarelse och försvinnande (för våra ögon), men allt detta är som en pulsering eller en rytm: Varats språk.”
In my English translation:
“What we call death is not disappearance or destruction, but simply a “passing into the clouds”, a kind of rest for the being, since objects, animals, humans are nothing but manifestations of Being. That which we no longer see, or not yet see, is not destroyed, and doesn’t await birth either. It rests in the peace of Being. […] Becoming, according to Parmenides, is this rhythm that has the being ’appear’ and then recede into the invisibility – for our eyes – that also exists. In our eyes there is a difference between appearance and disappearance, but this is a pulsation: The Language of Being”.
There is a hypnotic property to Yannis Kyriakides’ hYDAtorizon for piano quintet, that makes you want to listen for extended durations, and luckily, it’s simple just to let the CD player stay on repeat and have the atmosphere of your personal space merge with the atmosphere of the hYDAtorizon space, which slowly, slowly, gradually becomes a possible living space, a frame of mind, where you start to feel weightless, suspended like the astronauts in the space shuttle Endeavor, which at the time of writing circles the planet hooked up to the International Space Station, with continual live NASA web broadcasts of the work being done as the Earth floats by beneath.
Yannis Kyriakides mentions that he has also composed another version of hYDAtorizon, for piano and sine waves. That version has been released on the conSPIracy cantata CD (Unsounds 01), nine years ago (2001). That earlier version is a little shorter than the present one, at 15:47, and the single piano with the tickling sine waves curling up your neck makes for a somewhat more alien experience than the piano quintet version. Marion von Tilzer plays the piano on the sinewave release. Kyriakides describes the technique behind this earlier take in the booklet of conSPIracy cantata:
“Four loudspeakers transmitting a constant signal of sliding sine-tones are installed inside a piano, where they create sympathetic vibrations with the strings. The piano picks out single notes from this slow flowing harmonic stream.”
Kyriakides also characterizes the mood of the piece as “Zen-like”. Can’t but agree! And I’d add the adjective beautiful in an enthusiastic exclamation!
Track 6 (now shifting to CD 2). Chaoids for violin, alto saxophone, vibraphone and soundtrack (2001) [16:24]
Ensemble Intégrales: Barbara Lüneberg [violin] – Burkhard Friedrich [alto saxophone] – Stefan Kohmann [vibraphone]
Chaoids stuns the unprepared listener with its immediate highspeed velocity and intense firing of pearl beads of minimalist ordeals… and yes, I come to think of Terry Riley’s In C (the pounding pulse and shifting blocks of figures) as well as Steve Reich (Drumming and various other repetitious indulgences)… but after a while I rediscover Yannis Kyriakides, as the tempo laxes a bit in favor of a more distinguished flow of tilting sonic planes and irregularily/regularily pulsing energies… Darker, deeper sonorities, risen just above the mist of whitish/brownish noise to formulate viable statements on a backdrop of hardly audible points of reference take the stage in step and rhyme with – and then again slightly out of step with – the light, short-spoken but insistent vocabulary of the saxophone and the glowing Christmas tree decoration ball sounds from the vibraphone, while the things I can’t even originate live their electronic wildlife on the soundtrack that Kyriakides uses.
Anyway, this work is quite different from all the preceding pieces, and not so much in the vein of what I’ve come to term Kyriakidic!
As the soundtrack suddenly stops, the rest of the sounds seem much clearer and contoured, and I hear the violin for the first time, just speaking madly to itself in repetitious gnawings… until the whole situation takes its toll again, soundtrack, dark utterances from clay and rock bottom and an almost romantic saxophone, in a tight, full measure of sound that moves like a mudslide through your perception. I think of Ulrich Krieger and some of his explorations.
“One of the concepts or ways of looking at music that inspired me at the time of writing this piece was speed, how velocity or tempo defines what the material is. One of the sources for this idea came from reading Deleuze, especially Deleuze on Spinoza, which also inspired the music theatre piece The Thing Like Us. In the last chapter of Deleuze’s and Guattari’s What is Philosophy? the relation is presented between ‘chaos’ and its three ‘daughters’: art, science and philosophy. They define ‘chaoids’ as ‘… forms produced by planes or lines cutting through chaos’. Art is composed chaos, and perhaps music can render slices of chaos in the auditory field. In antithesis of Stravinsky’s statement that ‘art is the contrary of chaos’ (Poetics of Music), ‘Art takes a bit of chaos in frame in order to form a composed chaos that becomes sensory (Deleuze/Guattari)
On a musical level, I set out to explore aspects of rhythmic polyphony. It is a study in slow moving counterpoint of three voices set against a constant pulse. The pulse of the electronic soundtrack, which is made up of raw wavetable sounds, acts like a grid against which the slowly changing, but lively organic rhythms of the other instruments are perceived. […]”.
Track 7. U for voices in 8 parts and sine waves (2005) [7:18]
The Exmoor Singers directed by James Jarvis:
“Space melts like sand running through one’s fingers. Time bears it away and leaves me only shapeless shreds” (George Perec)
Like in the case of Telegraphic and Zeimbekiko on CD 1, the titles engraved on the tracks of CD 2, readable on some players, come in the wrong order. It says PNEuma on track 2, although it clearly is U that is being played. It’s a minor flaw, though, which not many will discover for themselves, as the print on the back of the CD cover is correct.
The music grows on you like some choir aboard the stray Aniara spaceship in Karl-Birger Blomdahl’s opera, premiered in 1959, based on the space poetry of legendary Harry Martinson, dealing with one of the evacuating space “goldonders” that transported people from the destroyed (by nuclear war) and abandoned Earth to the barren existence on the tundras of Mars, but which had a malfunction and drifted past Mars, out into deep space, in the direction of the Lyre, with its cargo of thousands of forlorn and homeless – planetless - emigrants. Apart from its immediate science fiction tour-de-force, the work has numerous existential and philosophical implications.
The thin sound of the sine waves that sweep through the choir induce, in my mind, some of the 1950s’ sonic equipment used by Stockhausen in the Electronic Studio of the WDR in Cologne in the likewise imaginary Martinson/Blomdahl Hall of the Mime, where the mixed choir, still in my imagination, stands in grey suits and brown skirts under a bleak and undefined light, in a time that has mistlike properties.
The choir sounds surprisingly “normal”, which isn’t to be very expected when listening to a work by Yannis Kyriakides, but it agrees fine with his style to bend the picture just slightly out of shape with the inclusion of these rising and falling sine waves, that move like Second World War search lights across the skies, trying to expose heavy bombers, who in turn try to evade the fingers of light that reach for them.
This music is stylized, rigid, sketchy – outlined with the meagerness and economy of a pencil drawing, but it does not come across as a preliminary study. It is clearly a complete Kyriakides work, and the vocals of the choir are full-scale, glimmering, radiant – although encased in some kind of space-time mist, or an atmosphere thereof.
The history behind this choir and sine wave composition is remarkable, so I quote Kyriakides’ entire introduction:
“U was commissioned in 2005 by artist Louise K Wilson for her art project A Record of Fear, which took place at Orford Ness, an experimental military site in Suffolk, England, which has been and still is out of bounds to the general public. This is where, amongst other things, several British nuclear bombs had been developed and tested. Wilson installed several sound installations in what has remained of the buildings and labs on the peninsula. One of them was a choir piece she had commissioned from me for an installation in Lab 5, one of the two ‘pagoda’ buildings. These were buildings constructed to test the bomb casing and detonation devices and withstand an explosion of the bombs (without fission).”
Louise K Wilson published a book called A Record of Fear. In the CD booklet, part of an essay by Judith Pamer from this book appears:
“A sequence of tall cruciform grooves incised into the laboratory walls makes the lofty chamber of the Lab 5 pagoda even more cathedral-like, even more funereal. A new commission by Cypriot composer Yannis Kyriakides inhabits the interior. It’s a piece shot full of holes. Scattered human notes, struggling for concordance, are overlaid by the persistent electronic glide of a sine wave sweep. The voices are fragile and vulnerable, wavering as they run out of breath. Words are stretched to a point of disintegration. A fragment of text by Georges Perec slips elusively past.
The title of Kyriakides’ composition, U, is both an homage to Perec’s memoir W, with its double-narrative of real and imagined lives, and the chemical symbol – U – for uranium. ‘It’s the absence of uranium which intrigued me’, says Kyriakides. ‘Uranium was like a religious thing: the holy ghost of these vessels being tested here’. Although every type of missile component was stressed to destruction on Orford Ness, the fissile material itself never made an appearance. Each warhead casing was like an empty reliquary. Fully assembled, the A-bombs were transformed into mutually assured amulets to keep enemy demons at bay.”
Track 8. PNEuma for bassoon, piano and soundtrack (1999) [12:52]
Duo Palmos: Stefanie Liedtke [bassoon] – Lorenda Ramou [piano]
A wooden beginning, like someone working the hull of a grand with his knuckles, arbitrary but kind of softly and withholding, in a way that gradually adheres to a basic rhythm, or should I say hoquetus motion, limping round in circles as the bassoon enters like a lively, even upset, mother goose, swirling around: an intoxicated dervish in late 19th century Constantinople!
This is embraced in a slow motion progressing like the swell from a distant storm hiding beneath the horizon, with a host of tiny swirls and whirls contained inside the larger motion, taking you on an almost dizzying run of tugging forces, all basically heading in the same direction: a group of schoolchildren on an outing, feverishly moving up a slope, for fun, yes, for fun!
This is a majestic, yet fierce piece of musical attire, presented in its outmost consequence by these head-on musicians; Stefanie Liedtke and Lorenda Ramou: impressive; inspiring!
The piece is one of the nephews of Luciano Berio’s forceful Eindrücke!
“The act of breathing is the principal image behind PNEuma. Surface noises of the bassoon and piano are highlighted in such a way as to draw attention to both the physicality of the instruments and the mechanics of playing them. They are transformed into a hyperventilating pneumatic machine. The hypnotic and repetitive nature of the music underlines the unceasing flow of breath, while the material of the music makes references to trance-like forms found in the folk music of the Balkan region.
The music is constructed in basic blocks of the 15-beat time structure 3+3+3+2+2+2. This goes almost entirely unchanged throughout the whole piece, though with intersecting polyrhythmic variations. The modality is also persistently pentatonic with modulations to increasingly distant root notes as the music unfolds.”
Track 9. Dog Song (Cerberus Serenades Orpheus) for double bell trumpet, soundtrack and computer (2006) [14:30]
Marco Blauw [double bell trumpet]
Marco Blauw on his trumpet (Wikipedia):
“The self designed trumpet is built by Dieter Gärtner, from the company Gärtner und Thul in Düren, Germany. The trumpet uses the standard three valves, plus a fourth and fifth valve. The fourth valve enables me to play quartertones, fast and over the whole range of the trumpet. An extra, surprisingly good and controllable effect is playing half-valve; in combination with the three ‘normal’ valves, it sounds relatively well in tune over the whole range. It is like using a strange kind of mute. The fifth valve is for changing between the two bells: having two bells on a trumpet was an old dream of mine, it gives many extra possibilities:
The double bell makes very fast changing between an open- and muted trumpet easy (color-change and echo-effect). This effect suggests the existence of a second trumpet…
The 5th valve can make a gradual change between open and muted, a large scale of exciting colors arises…
Changing between two open bells gives a tremolo effect, possible on any note in the register
you can play a regular piece with two different trumpets! because the bells are made of slightly different material
Sitting in an orchestra or ensemble you can change your direction of playing just by using the fifth valve; use the "bells up"-effect without changing your sitting position.
Before starting experimenting, I considered it almost impossible to extend the trumpet and improve it at the same time. The cheerful experiment worked out very well though! It seems that the evolution of the trumpet is far from reaching an end point.”
When I hear Marco Blauw I always, first of all, think about the space at the Sülztalhalle in Kürten and the magic atmosphere there in the presence of Karlheinz Stockhausen during the Stockhausen Courses, and though Stockhausen always worked a kind of farmer-or-carpenter practicality, the end result was a breathtaking tapping into the sublime sources of the Cosmos, of ourselves. There is magic at play in Yannis Kyriakides’ music as well, no less strong, but maybe even more refined – and probably all great artistic endeavors do tap into these cosmic flows of creativity that in fact are accessible to all cosmic beings.
Thin, golden or copper ambiences, rolled up in tiny cylinders of time and space, shape the alien dimensions of Yannis Kyriakides’ Dog Song, wherein the haunted houndings of Marco Blauw blow through the bewildering inter-cranial circuits of interconnected synapses of the looking-glasses of our brains.
Apart from the scattered and loose chatter of Blauw’s double bell trumpet, with tones sticking up like the heads of curious and attentive little mammals, I also hear tiny shreds of extraneous wind sounds and fragments of saliva-spraying lip motions, in addition to a beautiful star-spangled electronic space, which embraces the musician and his various temporal and spatial guises in glary, shiny, blinding sonorities and the swift, penetrating highpitch traces of shooting meteorites. The infra-thuds from the heart of the planet provide thundering gusts at times.
The music wears a coat of many colors.
The conclusion of Kyriakides’ Dog Song introduction:
“[…] The form of the piece developed into a series of short scenes for double bell trumpet and computer, where the electronics defines the space and the world where the dog song unfolds, the inner unheard world that underpins the creature’s schizoid growls, spits and barks. Then the dog gained a mythological dimension: he began to resemble Cerberus, the multi-headed hound who guards the gates of Hades. Perhaps an alternate Orpheus myth, instead of Cerberus being mesmerized and put to sleep by the strains of Orpheus’ harp, Orpheus, already in the trance that brought him to the underworld, encounters this dog-demon and hears music in its wild growl. The dog’s heads encircle Orpheus, singing its dog song, and lulling the hero into a sweet surround-sound slumber”
Track 10. Atopia (hyperamplified) for alto flute, viola, vibraphone, computer (2004) [23:32]
Anne La Berge [alto flute] – Elisabeth Smalt [viola] – Tatiana Koleva [vibraphone]
This is an incredibly beautiful piece of music; the longest on the double-CD with its 23 minutes plus. It reminds me of many sessions with the Stockholm-based Great Learning Orchestra, when drones of various kinds have woven space in intricate, illusive patterns, or the Australian free ensemble Music of Transparent Means, which also produces textures of soaring sonic beauty.
In essence, Atopia is made up of low-key drones at low volumes, which have been amplified many times over, so to speak, revealing properties not normally audible.
Kyriakides was inspired to write this piece when he was staying in a flat in Cairo, where the view from the kitchen was the wall of another building, just a few meters off. For some days a strong, sandy wind, called the khamsin, blew through the space between the houses, creating a strange drone, coupled with the Cairo traffic and scattered prayers from the mosques.
Kyriakides explains the music:
“The piece simply consists of drones of gradually evolving harmonies, tuned in 6th tones. The concept of the sound is that the instruments play on the whole as quietly as possible and are amplified to such a degree that they lose coherence and identity. It is the paradox of a far-off sound closely miked and magnified. The instruments are also processed live with resonances, reverbs and delays to create a spatial effect of a diffuse and immersive sound world”
It has come time to sum up my impressions of this double-CD from Dutch-Cypriot composer Yannis Kyriakides, entitled Antichamber. It is a release of such beauty and intricate delicacy, that my words, however weighed and measured and chosen, cannot make justice to the splendor inherent in all these compositions. I can only state that the reverence I felt for Yannis Kyriakides as a composer and a sonic poet many years ago, when I first encountered his work, has been affirmed, and elevated even more. It is a stunning release.