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About the Artists
Presspectives

A Certain Slant of Light

Thanos Chrysakis, Chris Cundy

Duration 60.36 | Released July 2020

Thanos Chrysakis | laptop computer | synthesizers |

                                | copicat tape echo |

Chris Cundy | bass clarinet | megaphone | voice changer |

                      | zither | objects |

Recorded at Red Carpet Studio in Cheltenham

on the 10th of December 2019.

 

Editing : THANOS CHRYSAKIS, CHRIS CUNDY

Mixing : CHRIS CUNDY

Mastering : THANOS CHRYSAKIS

Between March — April 2020

at Red Carpet Studio and Meridian Studio.

 

About the Artists

Thanos Chrysakis is a Greek composer, musician, producer and sound-artist. He is best known for his work in electronic and contemporary music, free improvisation, and electro-acoustic music.

With several albums to his name his work has appeared in festivals and events in numerous countries, including CYNETart Festival, Festspielhaus Hellerau - Dresden, Artus Contemporary Arts Studio – Budapest, CRUCE Gallery – Madrid, Fylkingen – Stockholm, Relative (Cross) Hearings festival – Budapest, Festival Futura – Crest - Drôme, FACT Centre – Liverpool, Association Ryoanji – Ahun - Creuse, The Center for Advanced Musical Studies at Chosen Vale — Hanover - New Hampshire, Areté Gallery — Brooklyn - New York, UC San Diego – California - San Diego, Berner Münster – Bern, Fabbrica del Vapore – Milan, Grünewaldsalen – Svensk Musikvår — Stockholm, Splendor – Amsterdam, Logos Foundation – Ghent, Palacio de Bellas Artes – Mexico City, Műcsarnok Kunsthalle – Budapest, Spektrum – Berlin, Susikirtimai X – Vilnius, Festival del Bosque GERMINAL – Mexico City, ДОМ – Moscow, Oosterkerk – Amsterdam, KLANG ! – Montpellier, Nádor Terem – Budapest, Utzon Centre – Aalborg, Center for New Music – San Francisco, Västerås Konstmuseum – Västerås, Störung festival – Barcelona, BMIC Cutting Edge concert series at The Warehouse – London.

His music was among the selected works at the International Competition de Musique et d'Art Sonore Electroacoustiques de Bourges 2005, in the category oeuvre d'art sonore électroacoustique, while received an honorary mention in 2006 at the 7th International Electroacoustic Competition Musica Viva in Lisbon (the jury was constituted by Morton Subotnick (USA), François Bayle (France), and Miguel Azguime (Portugal).

 

He operates the Aural Terrains record label since 2007 where he has released part of his work until now, alongside releases by Kim Cascone, Franscisco López, Tomas Phillips, Dan Warburton, Szilárd Mezei, Michael Edwards, Wade Matthews, Dganit Elyakim, Edith Alonso, Christian Skjødt, Luis Tabuenca, Christian Kobi, Jeff Gburek, Steve Noble, Milo Fine and David Ryan.


He has written music for musicians of the Hyperion Ensemble, the Stockholm Saxophone Quartet, the Konus Saxophone Quartett, and the Shadanga Duo among others. Close collaborations with Tim Hodgkinson, Vincent Royer, Chris Cundy, Yoni Silver, Lori Freedman, Jason Alder, William Lang, Wilfrido Terrazas, Philippe Brunet, Wade Matthews, Ernesto Rodrigues, Abdul Moimême, Ove Volquartz to name but a few.

Picture of Thanos Chrysakis

“swirling around the songs was bass clarinet player Chris Cundy, like a birdsong interrupting an argument” -  Los Angeles Times                                                                                                                         

Playing bass clarinet and rarified woodwind instruments Chris Cundy is a composer and performer with a practice rooted in experimental and improvised settings. His work also crosses over into popular music and he has worked with a variety of songwriters and groups including Timber Timbre, Cold Specks (aka Ladan Hussein), Thor & Friends, Baby Dee & Little Annie, and Guillemots.

Growing up in the Medway towns Chris became friends with artist and punk musician Billy Childish who introduced him to the exploits of homemade music-making at an early age. This led to a lasting DIY attitude and by the time he was 12 Chris had already started out as a street performer and busker. After hearing Eric Dolphy's music he took up the bass clarinet. He remains self-taught.

Also a visual artist, Chris studied painting at Cheltenham where he discovered a synergy between drawing practices and improvised music. This led to self-developed playing techniques using multi-phonics, circular breathing, exploring micro tonality and generally speaking a more tactile approach to the instrument. Chris also performs contemporary classical music and has premiered works by Greek composer Thanos Chrysakis. He performs as a soloist and as a member of The Set Ensemble.

He is also involved with theatre music, and recently contributed to an original soundtrack for Florian Zeller's stage play The Mother starring Gina McKee. Chris has performed at Shakespeare's Globe and toured with circus companies NoFit State, and Imagineer.

One off sessions have seen Chris performing alongside Moby, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Lol Coxhill, Vieux Farka Touré, Fatoumata Diawara, Alexander Hawkins, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Lisa Hannigan.

He has released three solo albums, Gustav Lost in 2016 (FMR Records), The Disruptive Forest in 2017 (Confront), and the mini-album Crude Attempt in 2020 (Pressing Records). A further album of acoustic bass clarinet compositions is expected in 2021 titled Of All The Common Flowers.

Picture of Chris Cundy

Presspectives

Julian Cowley — The Wire 440 — October 2020

This duo session in five parts was recorded in Cheltenham in December 2019. Thanos Chrysakis makes use of laptop and synthesizers while Chris Cundy plays bass clarinet but also zither, megaphone and other objects. Those are the stark facts; the sonic experience is far less readily pinned down. This is electroacoustic music, performed live by two cognoscenti of auras and intimations. Each enters fully into a shared situation rather than enacting a distinct role, and the presence of a tape echo machine heightens the impression of intricate blending and interdependence.

Although Chrysakis and Cundy have chosen not to acknowledge openly the source of their title, the poem by Emily Dickinson which begins with the phrase "There's a certain Slant of light" offers an illuminating angle on the phenomenologically oriented nature of their mysterious and stealthily dramatic music. Dickinson was sensitive to finely graduated changes in her surroundings but also to "internal difference", significant shifts within her own awareness bound bound intimately to subtle alterations in the external environment. Chrysakis and Cundy interact comparably within a continuously mutating context that is shaped by their input but also exceeds it, springing surprises and stretching their responsiveness, individually and together. In the process they transcend not only the familiarity each has with the other's playing, but also familiarity with their own tendencies and inclinations.

A suitably numinous air of luminescence plays across a stream of more localised and well-defined events, the shimmer of transience and marker of passing time. The certain slant in Dickinson's poem is a portent of mortality to which, Dickinson asserts, the physical landscape itself listens. Through his Aural Terrains label Chrysakis documents modulations of reception and response within musical environments, while also registering the finest nuances of internal difference.

Darren Bergstein — The Squid's Ear — 8.10.20

Multi-instrumentalist Chrysakis, via his Aural Terrains label and his band of erstwhile collaborators, has managed, year after year, to carve out a singular catalog amongst the nebulous genre of electroacoustic improvisation, by way of an experimental approach that prides itself on wild abandon masquerading as compositional rigor. This is a complex way of stating that Chrysakis and his numerous cohorts by now seem to work with near-telepathic abilities, able to effortlessly meld ideas and execution into a virtually seamless form that feels meticulously plotted out beforehand. The very act of ‘improvising’, whether utilizing tools acoustic, electronic, or hybridized, can sometimes have a garbage-can-down-the-stairs effect; noise and clatter being erected with little or no foundational underpinning, noise for noise’s sake, communication between players nonexistent. Anyone can bang two objects together in a room and proudly proclaim it ‘art’, pleased with their kneejerk outbursts; whether or not the results can be classified as listenable, let alone ‘music’, is another matter altogether. Over a library of profound depth and substance, Chrysakis regularly proves that talent, imagination, and proficiency rule the day.
 
On this duo recording with clarinettist Chris Cundy, the Aural Terrains head honcho has at his disposal a seemingly endless supply of sounds coaxed from purely electronic devices, including laptop computer, synths, and a mysterious sound source listed as ‘copicat tape echo’. Cundy’s arsenal of instruments, in addition to clarinet, comprise a megaphone, zither, the ubiquitously coined ‘objects’ and some means of digital processor simply dubbed ‘voice changer’. The sounds both artists devise, mark out, sculpt, and shape blur aesthetic boundaries to the point where only occasionally can individual components be recognized (Cundy’s zither and megaphone are particularly apparent on the wonderfully oscillating “Part II”), but the integration of their sensibilities is the very bedrock informing these sometimes coarse, sometimes acrid, yet tonally-arresting compositions. On “Part III”, Chrysakis ushers in Cundy’s elaborate squawks and guttural exhortations with a series of Louis & Bebe Barron-esque blurbs and burbles, coating the radioactive landscape Cundy navigates with gleeful, exploratory broadstrokes. At a bit over the three-and-a-half minute mark, Chrysakis dares to introduce what appears to be liquifying beats into the proceedings, but Cundy’s wry playing doesn’t let them develop beyond a few short babysteps; on an ever-developing, ever-morphing template, this is music that is restless by nature, the artists's aware that stasis boxes in their torrential flow of ideas, both keen on realizing substance rather than mere affect.
 
Surely what makes the appliqué of electronic instruments so important into a matrix such as this is the musicians's desire to revel in a world of unexperienced sound. Chrysakis has long realized this modus operandi as a matter of principle. In the company of the complimentary Cundy, his digital striations and lambent waveforms achieve an almost spiritual liftoff, something remarkably rare in the usually cold, distilled air of artificial aural environments. That the duo bridge the gap between emotionalism and intellectualism speaks volumes about their collective savvy, and of the utterly immersive nature of this consistently fascinating recording.

Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg — Orynx — 02.10.2020

[FR]

Compositeur – improvisateur Grec vivant à Minsk en Biélorussie, Thanos Chrysakis joue principalement de l’orgue et des instruments électroniques. J’ai déjà commenté ici ses remarquables albums – projets avec deux Orgues et Clarinettes basses avec Peer Schlechta, Ove Volquartz et Chris Cundy : Music for Two Organs & Two Bass Clarinets 2018 ). Music for Bass Clarinets (2019) ou Music for Baritone saxophone, Bass Clarinets & Electronics (2019), tous publiés par son label Aural Terrains. Naturel dès lors qu’il se concentre sur un duo avec un de ses plus proches collaborateurs, le clarinettiste basse Chris Cundy, car Thanos aime particulièrement cet instrument dont les ressources du très grave à l’extrême aigu (harmoniques !) sont profondément et intensément malléables et s'insèrent dans ces multiples démarches, surtout sous les doigts et avec le souffle expert de Chris Cundy. Thanos est ici crédité laptop computer, synthesizers et copicat tape echo. Son partenaire joue aussi des « megaphone, voice changer, zither et objects ». Une musique spacieuse, minimaliste que traverse bruissements, drones, vibrations électriques, clusters mystérieux et distendus, des pointes d’harmoniques hyper aiguës de la clarinette basse, sons amplifiés, réverbérés le tout de manière très étalée. Ambient parfois au bord du silence, souffle à peine perceptible de l’amplification, murmures, suggestions … Cinq parties qui développent, prolongent, évoluent et emportent l'auditeur dans un univers à la fois feutré, intemporel et frémissant. Une facette différente de leur travail qui ajoute une nouvelle dimension aux programmes soigneusement conçus et réalisés par Thanos Chrysakis et son (ses) collaborateur(s). Chris Cundy est un instrumentiste et improvisateur plus que remarquable. 

Computer Music Journal (2021) 44 (1): 91–93 - Seth Rozanoff - MIT Press