in Aulis by Yiorgis Sakellariou

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Yiorgis Sakellariou
in Aulis (Unfathomless; CD/DL)

The Lithuanian-based composer made a pilgrimage to the Ancient Greek temple of Artemis in Aulis, Greece and this is what ensued. At first the extremely faintly audible granular rumble may have you immediately popping on a pair of headphones, but at about two minutes into this 43 minute singular composition a layer of drone accompanying a tectonic flicker starts to make its presence. Slow-going the constant jetstream wall becomes the canvas for manipulations that emulate opening a treasure chest in the belly of a pirate ship. The CD is hand-numberd in an edition of 200, and the Belgian label always does an incredible job under the watchful mastery of Daniel Crokaert, who also created the cover collage.

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These in-situ outdoor recordings sound as if the composer is dragging large scale boulders into various chambers. Of course the temple he is entering is mostly ruins these days, but you’d swear there were a roof and four sides judging by the cavernous sound he’s concocted.  He is most certainly infusing his own mythology atop this place of sacrifice and ritual. The watery lapping colors the space as a shifting harmonic tone illuminates the background like a moving flashlight spot.

And you, young
women, sing a propitious song for my fate, a song in praise
of Zeus’ daughter Artemis. Let the Greeks keep propitious
silence. –
Euripides, Iphigeneia in Aulis, lines 1467-1470

A bit of a radio play among the broken facade and remaining columns, the sound that exudes from in between. With crackle and reduced sound effects Sakellariou remains at the micro level, sorting out his electronic synthesis on a charged stage with silences, and sudden actions. By fusing his field recordings with Aeolian harp, and layering the atonal drag of open air, what results in its wake is a blend of rustic and industrial noise that sounds like a heavy weight being dragged through a dusky windstorm, until the punctuation of glass breaking.

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The place frames the sound space, and vice versa becomes informed by modern wo/man upon the Earth where so many have tread before. Having visited several historical spots in Italy recently, it’s a uniquely peculiar rush to feel the history under your feet when in such a place. As in Aulis comes into its final dozen minutes the granular nature of the experience comes into play with only a fine dust and vague drone apparent, like you’ve entered a ghost town – or in meditation. And Sakellariou builds on that with a cyclical minor beat that is raw and lo-fi, collaging corroded twists that sound like an old shed in a storm. There is never complete silence, and therein lies the main tension of this recording, the sheer presence of absence.

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