Boomkat Product Review:
The Heat Crimes label continues to impress after that incredible album from The Ephemeron Loop last year, teaming up with Greek label Untag to bring us a vital reissue of this 1994 madness from Greek vanguard Costis Drygianakis’, a complex and often beautiful fusion of jazz, folk, sacred music and avant-garde electro-acoustic sounds. Anyone on the Hassell/Eno axis should consider it required listening.
‘Optiki Mousiki’, or Optical Musics, were formed by Costis Drygianakis way back in 1984, when they recorded 'Tomos 1'. Recordings from that same period were later compiled and issued as 'Optical Musics: The First Words' in 2017, bending grotty beatbox edits around concréte disturbances. The band splintered in 1987, opening up a period in which Drygianakis began to question the avant-garde's maddening self-seriousness. He wondered if it would be possible to blend "non-serious" concepts with his headier obsessions: tales of the ancient world, folk music from Tibet, East Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The result was Tomos 2', a sprawling double album that's so doggedly unconventional it still packs a real futureshock almost three decades later.
Working with an Akai S-1000 sampler, Drygianakis pulled his own archival recordings and combined them with bizarre rhythms and eerie drones to make wavy, psychedelic narratives. It opens with almost 15 minutes of modal string plucks, flutes, liturgical chants and stretched drones for a sort of meeting point between Tangerine Dream's long-form synth experiments and Jon Hassell's enduring fourth world ambience.
The second quarter takes the kosmische influence even further, bedding piano notes in a soundscape of glassy synths, cello and horns before erupting into cacophonous, screeching environmental recordings. On the third track, Drygianakis blends spine-poking new age-synth drones with bowed wails, white noise and accordion improvisations. But it's the final piece that has us most impressed, a dark ambient masterwork that's based around a Greek Orthodox church service that sounds so imposing it practically has claws.
Stunning, unconventional gear, highly recommended to all Fourth world travellers as well as anyone into Eno, Sakamoto x Sylvian, Wolfgang Dauner.