N°4 by Christina Vantzou

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Brussels-based composer Christina Vantzou has been releasing solo work since 2011, and N°4, like her previous efforts is now out on Kranky. It’s an instant ethereal mix of gem-like tones and heavy vibrating strings in the transition between Percussion In Nonspace and At Dawn. Most of the eleven tracks encapsulated here are around five minutes or under, but all could be explored symphonically for greater longevity. The artist is known for releasing the works in remix compilations, so we’ll have to wait to see if this dauntingly gorgeous effort gets that treatment. I’m only halfway through Doorway when this feeling of being submerged in a gel-like substance washes over me, it’s a series of thick layered vibrations incorporating key tones and a wavy drone where gravity seems suspended.

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Available in vinyl, cd and digital formats via Bandcamp, N°4 harkens to some of the better 1970’s Eno in its stripped down ambient approach, undoubtedly showcased on Some Limited And Waning Memory. It’s an artful escape into a forlorn, romantic plot where the impassioned piano speaks to the loss of love, or innocence. The chords drift up and down as she balances the weight between contemporary electronica and classical piano and strings (No. 4 String Quartet), it’s a thin seam at times, and in other moments completely blurred to distinctive effect.

Elsewhere on the album there are thoroughly cinematic ballad-style colors as heard on Staircases that sounds excised from a thriller soundtrack. The strings wander, the ghostly backing drone is stylized and just floats. Sound House is a haunting requiem of generous heavy cello effects that are stirring and elusive, my favorite track on the record by far. It’s like an eerie gas being emitted into a crawl space.

 

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In the final stretch Lava runs thematically recalling the edges of themes from films like Logan’s Run or Blade Runner. Unknown worlds emerge out of disorder. Throughout also, there is a bit of a disembodied overture, similar to the cover and internal graphics that feature those who are face/headless. The only off-putting note on this record, in its long-playing span is the bass heavy rubberized hues midway through Garden Of Forking Paths. It emits “danger” but throws the listening experience off, and/or wakes you up. The finale Remote Polyphony (Feat. Steve Hauschildt) returns to ambient textures and again tickles at the headless funnybone of our virtuality. Rumbling away, the ending glistens lightly, developing something of a hybrid for the new new age, born out of necessity.

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