Out of Left Field (& Back Again): Recently released on Faux Amis from Utrecht we are listening to Owlbites (Thanos Fotiadis) new live album, Live.Bites^^//.. [FA#08] (CD, Digital). The title throws me a bit, perhaps it’s simply a digital signature of some sort. Releasing music since 2015 out of the Netherlands, this is my introduction, and it’s a fully realized listening experience, and I mean that in an illuminated storytelling sense. Broken into three tracks that each run for a bit over twenty-three minutes I can’t help considering numerology. The meditative church is like a radio play, with a dogmatic narrator at first, backed with random sitar strings, and blurry static. The voice is likely from an old film with a hypnotist at work. At scant glance this is an ambient record with experimental field recordings blended through, but deeper listening reveals a fundamentally stripped down classic thriller soundtrack, revisited, renewed, re-animated. It’s essentially a one man band concept record that cannot be regulated to genre as it is peppered with references as oblique as Jack Dangers, The Residents and Bernard Herrmann. Though as a composite of soundscapes, drone and an immense contracting/expanding set of sound effects, this is a sensitive study in the art of sound.
Embedded are broken down elements of hard rock feedback meets mission control as the pared down mix leads way to a cavernous din. This would likely be incredible to encounter in a live situation. Next up is Nature is satan’s church and the mood is softly ambient at first, a bit of meditation after the previous proceedings. The record, though improvised, has a definitive direction and path, at times invoking Walt Whitman’s great line, “I Sing the Body Electric” as a means to an end, though there is none in sight (just yet). Part of this track is indistinguishable from those depicting noir hovercraft careening from aliens in deep space, only to be met with some kind of turmoil, here in the form of of the warp of hard guitar pedaling. Voices emerge in whisper about the mind conceiving and achieving (has this banter been lifted from Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist?). However, it’s effective.
The conclusion is the track that only uses symbols for its title, ^^. It opens with a foggy, recurrent organ-like drone. Recorded solely by Fotiadis this past January with “AC15 and Blues Junior guitar amplifiers, a few fx pedals and a tape player for playing samples” this comes off as if an edited version of early 70’s Tangerine Dream had been resurrected to only play their most mythical in-between bits, filtered down and made even more moody. An evocative wash of electronic wizardry, even at its most industrial the heavy noise is curvilinear and crystalline. This is an epic recording and a sound manipulator who will keep your ears bent.