Thanos Chrysakis, Jason Alder
Duration 53.37 | Released May 2022
Jason Alder : Clarinet | Bass Clarinet | Contra Bass Clarinet
Thanos Chrysakis : Compositions
Recorded at Alder Music And Audio Studio in London between June 2020 - April 2022
Mastered at Meridian Studio between January-April 2022 by Thanos Chrysakis
Fáessa  11'21" for clarinet
Milieu Interieur I  16'23" for bass clarinet
Milieu Interieur II  8'41" for contra bass clarinet
Noctilucent Clouds  8'16" for two bass clarinets
Μαύρο Φως/Dark Light  8'55" for contra bass clarinet
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, Luis Tabuenca, Jeff Gburek, Philippe Petit, Steve Noble, Milo Fine and David Ryan among others.
He has written music for musicians of the Hyperion Ensemble, the Stockholm Saxophone Quartet, the Hermes Ensemble, Nemø Ensemble, 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, Julie Kjaer, Henriette Jensen, William Lang, Wilfrido Terrazas, Philippe Brunet, Wade Matthews, Ernesto Rodrigues, Abdul Moimême, Ove Volquartz to name but a few.
Jason Alder is a low clarinet specialist and holds degrees in clarinet performance (Michigan State University- US), bass clarinet performance (Conservatorium van Amsterdam- NL), creative improvisation (Artez Conservatorium- NL), as well as post-graduate study in the application of the advanced rhythmic principles of South Indian Karnatic music to contemporary Western classical and jazz music (Contemporary Music and Improvisation through Non-Western Techniques). He is currently conducting PhD research on the sonic possibilities on the contrabass clarinet (Royal Northern College of Music- UK). He is well-established as a performer of contemporary music and frequently works with composers to develop and premiere new works either as a soloist, with his flute-clarinet Shadanga Duo, the Four New Brothers Bass Clarinet Quartet, or in a variety of other formations. As well as composed music, Jason regularly performs internationally as an improviser, electroacoustic musician, and in world music and jazz bands. He is often found performing, lecturing, or on panel discussion at festivals around the world, including the International ClarinetFests, European Clarinet Festivals, Istanbul Woodwind Festival, American Single Reed Summit, Netherlands Gaudeamus New Music Festival, Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival, Havana Festival of Contemporary Music, and Leeds International Festival of Artistic Innovation. He is also sought after as a recording engineer for many classical and jazz musicians around Europe. Originally from metro-Detroit, Jason has lived in Europe since 2006 and is an endorsing Artist for Selmer clarinets, D'Addario reeds, Behn mouthpieces, and Silverstein ligatures.
Julian Cowley — THE WIRE — #463 — September 2022
The works of Greek born composer Thanos Chrysakis, performed by clarinettist Jason Alder, offer a dramatic illustration of a genuinely synergetic musical relationship, nurtured through close collaboration. The Greek root of the word synergy means working together. English usage brings out the sense of additional value gained from such cooperation. Alder is an intrepid navigator of those streams of microtonal phenomena that form the inner life of sound, especially adept when immersed within the wildly vibrating lower depths of bass and contrabass instruments.
Technically and temperamentally uncompromising in his interpretation of Chrysakis’s structural designs, Alder remains sure-footed amid turbulence and threats of instability that arise in that process. A sonic adventure for mind and body from a partnership that consistently transcends standard expectations.
Massimo Ricci — The Squid's Ear — 22.06.2022
The phenomenology inherent in microtonal fluctuation, multiphonics and unorthodox melodic design constitutes an intriguing field of exploration in these scores by Thanos Chrysakis, incorporating pieces for regular, bass and contrabass clarinets. Privileging a general sense of continuity as opposed to the rigid consistency of a metrical strategy, Chrysakis' compositional clairvoyance found the ideal translator in Jason Alder, a frequent presence on Aural Terrains since 2019.
As a low clarinet connoisseur probing the depths of the instrument's physical properties, Alder's control of pitch and responsiveness to vibration are exemplary. It is essential to understand the huge effort expended to produce sonic matter that might appear deceptively simple to an inattentive addressee. Intense quivering, ineffable glissandos and timbral mutability reflect years of research in a quest for getting one with the sound (and the cosmos at large, if you will). Alder is equally keen on making us discern, from every angle of hearing, the diversified shades engendered by sheer oscillation. Such ghosts — especially when bass and contrabass are involved — sway through frequencies acknowledged by the auricular membranes but also felt in the nape of the neck, and all around the head. Impressively, this occurs even at a lower listening volume, thus substantiating the skill at play.
The recording quality brings out more crucial details. The variable inhalations needed to emit altered notes; the circular breathing necessary to keep extended flows spinning; the clattering keys complementing the gracefulness of the braided pitches. And of course, the instants, however ephemeral, of charged silence. Overall, Milieu Interieur is completely unencumbered by sly attempts to beguile an audience via cheap tricks. Endowed with exquisite formal elegance, at the same time it's pregnant with physicality. An evident freedom from predigested "contemporary" schemes could induce someone to hypothesize improvised spots in the music, which — on the contrary — is entirely notated. Ultimately, the outstanding trait is perhaps the sensation of "harmonic non-belonging" conveyed by the drifting melodic trajectories, of which Chrysakis conceived a veritable multitude. Still-intelligible signals wavering across counterpointed figments, they retain an underlying purposefulness, facilitating the mind's adjustment process as soon as they're integrated in our receptive systems.
Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg — Orynx — 02.08.2022
Compositeur contemporain Grec installé à Minsk, Thanos Chrysakis publie ses compositions et ses réalisations où interviennent d’autres compositeurs et plusieurs interprètes ou improvisateurs, particulièrement des clarinettistes (Chris Cundy, Ove Volquartz, Tim Hodgkinson, Yoni Silver, Jason Adler). Parmi les compositeurs, John Cage, Ton De Leeuw, George Aperghis, Iancu Dumitrescu, Christian Wolff. Avec Milieu Intérieur, il resserre le cercle. Un clarinettiste complet, Jason Adler, qui, outre la clarinette « alto », joue aussi de la grave clarinette basse et de la monstrueuse clarinette contrebasse, et cinq remarquables compositions de Thanos pour l’instrument qu’il affectionne particulièrement, tant il apparaît dans ses œuvres et les albums qu’il produit avec beaucoup de soin et de passion sur son propre label Aural Terrains. Fàessa est écrite pour une clarinette translucide et subtile avec une belle dynamique, aérienne et secrète. Milieu Intérieur I exprime une forme introvertie dans le registre médium de la clarinette basse avec des sons retenus, graveleux ou expressifs mettant en valeur la dynamique possible et les couleurs disponibles dans ce tube à clés malaisé à contrôler sur une durée de plus de 16 minutes. Milieu Intérieur II, d’une taille plus modeste, (8’41’’) met en scène la clarinette contrebasse, une machinerie à air redoutable à manier, avec laquelle il se répand dans l’espace auditif avec une aisance et une candeur sans appel avec des vocalisations subtiles et les plus belles nuances . La qualité de jeu et d’enregistrement est un véritable délice et ouvre la sensibilité de l’auditeur quand le souffleur part à la recherche de sonorités dont il découvre les substances et les fréquences secrètes. Admirable. Cette pièce semble durer dans un infini intangible car elle est dans la trajectoire affective du Milieu Intérieur I. Atteindre de telles sonorités avec un instrument aussi grave est la vocation de toute une vie et quand le souffleur qui semble somnoler fait éclater son énergie contenue, tout semble chavirer. Fabuleux. Noctilucent Clouds est conçue pour deux clarinettes basses et débute au bord du silence avec un filet de son qui s’insère dans son alter-ego chatoyant dans les aigus flûtés. Le registre très aigu de la clarinette basse vibre comme dans un rêve en notes tenues et glissandi infimes, fantômes de l’air projeté dans les tubes. La magie du multipiste offre ici de belles congruences sensibles, savantes, une connivence diaphane ou ombrée qui s’éteint dans un silence organique et renaît dans entre léger suraigu, éraillement d’harmoniques ou graves songeurs ou éclatants. Ces 8’16’’ semblent suspendus comme des nimbus hiératiques dans un ciel bleu par-dessus un chemin de crête ligne invisible de partage des eaux par temp sec. Avec la pièce terminale Mavro Phôs / Dark Light pour clarinette contrebasse livrée en conclusion , nous tenons là un chef d’oeuvre incontestable échappant aux plans de carrière et aux agoras néo-académiques.
Minsk-based Contemporary Greek composer Thanos Chrysakis publishes his compositions and performances with the participation of other composers and numerous performers or improvisers, particularly clarinetists (Chris Cundy, Ove Volquartz, Tim Hodgkinson, Yoni Silver, Jason Adler). Among the composers are John Cage, Ton De Leeuw, George Aperghis, Iancu Dumitrescu and Christian Wolff. With Milieu Intérieur he tightens the circle. Multifaceted clarinetist Jason Adler plays not only the "alto" clarinet, but also the deeper bass clarinet and the monstrous contrabass clarinet in five remarkable compositions by Thanos, whose fondness for this instrument is evident in the frequency with which it appears in his works and on the albums he so carefully and passionately produces for his own Aural Terrains label. Fàessa is written for a translucent, subtle clarinet with beautiful airy and secret dynamics. Milieu Intérieur I unfolds in an introverted manner in the middle register of the bass clarinet. With held-back, gritty or expressive sounds it brings out the possible dynamics and colors offered by this keyed but not easily tamed tube for over 16 minutes. More modest in its proportions (8' 41"), Milieu Intérieur II brings to the fore a contrabass clarinet whose aeolean mechanics are truly formidable, filling the sound space with unquestionable ease and candor rich in subtle vocalizations and the most beautiful nuances. The playing quality and the recording itself are equally delightful, broadening the listener's sensibilities when Adler's quest for sounds reveals their most secret substance and frequencies. Admirable. This piece seems to inhabit an intangible infinity defined by the emotional trajectory of Milieu Intérieur I. Producing these sounds with such a deep instrument is a life's calling, and when the apparently somnolent player explodes with previously withheld energy, everything turns upside down. Fabulous. Written for two bass clarinets, Noctilucent Clouds begins on the edge of silence with a tiny thread of sound tickling its alter-ego in the fluted highs. The altissimo register of the bass clarinet vibrates as if in a dream with held notes and evanescent glissandi, ghosts of the air projected through the tubes. The magic of multitracking offers beautifully sensitive and sage combinations here, a diaphanous or shadowy coexistence that fades into organic silence, reborn in the lightest of high notes, hoarse harmonics and dreamy or explosive lows. Its 8' 16" hang like hieratic clouds in a blue sky over a high mountain path, an invisible line of shared waters in times of drought. The album concludes with Mavro Phôs/Dark Light for contrabass clarinet, an unquestionable masterpiece that escapes any hint of careerism or neo-academic forums.
Christian Carey — Sequenza 21 — 20.JAN.2023
Thanos Chrysakis is a prominent composer from Greece who works in electroacoustic music, as a performer and creating sound environments, as well as writing contemporary concert music. He relishes small combinations; solo and duet writing feature prominently in his output. Milieu Interieur is a full length recording of music for clarinets, performed by Jason Alder. Chrysakis has composed five pieces for Bb, bass, and contrabass clarinet of significant duration for solo works. The versatility with which he approaches these pieces, as well as his detailed knowledge of the inner workings of the clarinet, make this a diverting listen.
Fáessa is for solo Bb clarinet and it passes eleven minutes in duration. Here as elsewhere, extended techniques abound: microtones, multiphonics, glissandos, and the like. Fáessa is a showcase of fluidity, with smooth movement between pitches and micro-intervals, interrupted intermittently by passages of multiphonics. It moves through the entire range of the instrument. Alder’s altissimo playing is seemingly effortless.
There are two versions of the title piece, one for bass and another for contrabass clarinet. The first begins in the lowest register, sustained, then trilling. An angular melody punctuated by glissandos becomes the principal linear element. Luster-toned overblown notes create an interlude, then trilling and bass growls return. Another passage features a conjunct passage of multiphonics. The melody returns in a baritone register. Fluttering notes conjoined with multiphonics create a singular timbral passage. Despite the variety of these modes of playing, Chrysakis uses repetition and registral development to create a coherent, albeit labyrinthine, formal design. The second half features long, sustained notes, a slowed down version of the material from earlier. Seamless shifting between registers is another calling card for Alder’s playing. A rapturous section of repeated notes throughout the compass is juxtaposed with disjunct arpeggiations in a coda that concludes with a clangorous bass note. Millieu Interieur 2 is half the length of the first piece and revises its form to reposition material in different places. The sound of the altissimo register of this instrument is extraordinary, perhaps equaling its tremendous, sonorous bass notes.
Noctilucent Clouds is for two overdubbed bass clarinets. Slow-paced trilling and oscillations of micro-intervals are set against repeated notes in the upper register. When the two instruments reach detuned unisons, blurred repeated notes, and sustained multiphonics in coordination, there is a shivery effect. Fleet melodic passages alternate with these passages of slowly evolving textures. In addition to these sections of close-spaced duets, there are also registrally distinct colloquies, where bass notes provide a pedal over which the second instrument deals with spectral overtones. Dovetailing howls then pursue one another, only to be succeeded by a low register duet. Detuned intervals, mostly in rhythmic unison, bring the piece to an evocative close.
Thunderous repetition of bass notes, followed by upper register multiphonics, provides a dramatic opening for the album closer, Μαύρο Φως/Dark Light for contrabass clarinet. Repeated notes in the bass become one of the principal gestures, as do trills, bent small intervals, and the aforementioned multiphonics. The sound of the contrabass clarinet is extraordinary: vivid and powerful. A brief disjunct gesture is interpolated with the aforementioned materials. This signature device of Chrysakis provides a post-tonal melodic foil to the effects-based writing. There’s even a brief jazzy variant on the gesture. Sustained multiphonics return, crescendo and diminuendo shaping them to conclude the piece.
Milieu Interieur is a masterclass in clarinet writing and playing. I am eager to hear Alder play more. Performers, composers, and listeners should take note of it.
Michael Rosenstein — Dusted Magazine — 28.06.2022
Composer, musician, producer and sound-artist Thanos Chrysakis has been putting out a slew of recordings over the past 15 years, many on his label Aural Terrains. Some, like Music for Two Organs & Two Bass Clarinets, reviewed here, feature Chrysakis in improvisational settings. But he also has released a number of recordings presenting his compositions in company with like-minded composers, usually focusing in on specific instruments. He clearly has a fondness for clarinets, working with musicians like Chris Cundy, Jason Alder, Heather Roche and Yoni Silver so Milieu Interieur is a logical deep dive, with five of his own compositions covering a range of the clarinet family, from Bb to bass clarinet to the contrabass instrument, all performed by Alder.
Things kick off with “Fáessa,” for solo clarinet, moving with patient resolve through a series of microtonal glissandos, bent notes and quavering overtones. Alder’s command of the tone and timbre of the full range of the instrument is striking throughout. “Milieu Interieur I” and “Milieu Interieur II,” for solo bass clarinet and solo contrabass clarinet follow, zeroing in on low-end oscillations of the respective instruments while effortlessly leaping to their upper reaches. The deep sonorities of the instruments are probed with formidable control, from the resonant, dusky, bottom registers of the horns to vibrant high-pitched cries, particularly on the rarely heard contrabass clarinet.
“Noctilucent Clouds,” for two bass clarinets plies the pulsations of two overdubbed instruments, often voiced in dyads with a keen ear for the resulting harmonic interactions. Here, Chrysakis deploys sections of more active playing against pools of slowly morphing tonalities with decisive deliberation. The final “Μαύρο Φως / Dark Light” returns to solo contrabass clarinet, starting with stabbing notes that resolve into richly nuanced overtones. The score jumps across the registers of the instrument, impeccably performed by Alder. He never falters, deploying a potent facility across the sliding leaps to the apex registers and dark dives to the rumbling depths. With Alder, Chrysakis has found a fruitful collaborator and interpreter of his scores and Alder clearly revels in the structures that the composer has created for him.
Nick Ostrum — Free Jazz Blog — 09.01.23
Milieu Interieur is the latest collaboration between composer and sound artist Thanos Chrysakis and clarinetist Jason Alder. Actually, Chrysakis has been homing in on composing for the clarinet over the last few years, as Eyal covered here . Milieu Interieur is right in line with that tradition. Although Alder’s instruments range from standard to bass to contrabass clarinets, he often soars, rather than relishes in the deep, droning doldrums. Tones waft across the aural plain like a soft breeze on a fall evening, calm and at least temporarily comforting, but serving likewise as a harbinger of a much colder winter.
The mood is intimate and bucolic, but always falls back toward an off-balanced center that hints at instability. Trills overlay stretched melodies. Breaths and clicks of keys are audible, as are adjustments in embouchure that become as much of the music as the tones expelled from the clarinet’s bell. So are the resonances (that sometimes sound like echoes), which fill out the potential background void. Some of these embellishments seem to come from Chrysakis’ work in production though some come directly from Alder, as he bends and decays notes to create a sense of faded, enveloping polyphony.
Jason Alder is clearly a clarinetist to be reckoned with. He might not attack like others, but he can breathe a cavernous huff and screech when he needs to. Most often, however, his lines meander slowly and bend gently but deliberately. Thanos Chrysakis, moreover, has some serious compositional chops. All of the music on this recording is meticulously rendered into notation and performed by Alder in close collaboration with Chrysakis. The fact that this is so composed is especially notable given how flexible and freely floating much of this sounds.
Chrysakis has referred to Milieu Interieur as exploring the “vistas of sound’s interiority.” In less poetic terms, the album falls somewhere between the romantic end of contemporary classical and a pared-down EAI attention to color and texture. The music is dynamic, but in effect rather than volume or pitch aberrations. It develops subtly but unpredictably, which, again, makes the composed nature of these pieces pleasantly surprising.