A new tape, entitled Chained to the World, came out these last days from the French/German label Falt, and it is available through their Bandcamp page
I wrote something instead of a press release, and here it is
The first idea for this piece came out of paintings. I had come across paintings done on pieces of newspapers; the first one was Atso Sankovski’s impressive Last Supper in the National Gallery of Macedonia, in Skopje. Old printed paper gave to the painting a peculiar texture; the colours set up a conversation with it, sometimes covering it, some others merging the old printing. I thought of something similar in music. A carpet of human voices, from radios, from everyday talks, from lectures, from the internet, varying in tone colour, creating a background for the music to be spelled. Somewhere gaining volume, somewhere fading, somewhere totally vanishing; or maybe in other points coming to the foreground, clear, shouting. Thus I set off.
I started working in early June in Voronezh, Russia. In the ends of the month, while the piece had been shaped to a great extent, by mistake I formatted the hard disk where I kept my files. A calamity! It was followed by an effort to retrieve the data; some things were restored but it became clear that some of the recordings had to be done all over again. I had to reconsider the piece from the very beginning, deciding finally that there should be some radical changes. The need to reconstruct the piece mainly by memory posed new questions; which of the elements I had used were important, which elements were connected and corresponding to other ones, which ones were the aesthetic features in an hierarchical order. The relations between the background and the foreground were one more such question, as well as the relation between insignificant voices and voices charged with meaning. Although I started with many random choices, the joints that gave coherence to the material gradually became clear. Work went on when I returned to Greece and concluded in early August; some events of those days, like the devastative fire in Mati, near Athens, left also a trace on the piece.
As many people of my age, I keep on disliking cassette tapes, clearly opposed to the younger generation who approaches them with a kind of romanticism. In addition to the limitations of the tapes in terms of sound quality, I was always a bit reserved about the very limited releases. I finally succumbed to the pressure of friends to accept these two aspects and I tried to find ways to use them creatively. It’s true that, today, the main means for dissemination and everyday use is not the tape itself but the digital archive, which is a pretty faithful copy of the material produced in the studio; and, in passing, I must say it’s been many years I use tapes, both cassettes and open reels, in the crafting of my music, exactly for the sake of their distortion, as one more means of shaping tone colours. OK, so, cassette tape.
But the main point was that I started enjoying the freedom granted to me by the limited quantity, as well as of the small duration of the cassette tape. I realized that, this way, the piece became less of a public statement and got the sense of a private conversation, of a small gathering of friends; leaving, thus, more space for experimentation and reducing the fear of a failure. So, I started working with my new ideas, reserving “my right to be boring and unintelligent, declining to make witty and clever allusions to impress the noted critics present”, to use the words of Robert Fripp. I have no clue if I succeeded in creating something worthy. I listen back to it and I feel like visiting an uncharted territory, spotting details I never noticed and ending up like the traveler who comes home and finds in his suitcases things he doesn’t remember that he bought. I must confess I enjoy this feeling.
Ending, I must note that the use of language is an issue that occupies me since many years. From my childhood, I remember listening to songs in unintelligible languages, and I think this is a common feeling all over Greece. How do we perceive such languages? What they offer to us? Is this world finally something like the tower of Babel? Can a piece work as a puzzle, as a brainteaser who invites the listener to complete it with his own imagination, leaving as a future duty the exploration of the original sources, of their history, of their context? This feeling also fascinates me, and I can’t forget the frisson I felt when I heard the complete tale by Janie Hunter, twenty years after My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.
Today (Feb. 5), a first mini-review was published in Facebook by Tasos Babatzias
Feb. 12 we had a nice review by Frans de Waard in Vital weekly
COSTIS DRYGIANAKIS – CHAINED TO THE WORLD (cassette by Falt)
So far, most releases I heard on the French Falt label seemed to be about the debris of the sonic world. Damaged cassettes, half-decaying radio signals and some kind lo-fi electronics, but with this release by Costis Drygianakis, things are a bit different. We know him for his more or less group-oriented works in which the studio plays a big role, taking sounds apart and put together again. This is no different here with various people contributing instruments (Mado Anastasiou, violin; Christos Kaltis, bass; Fanis Panagiotopoulos, sax; Agapi Zarda, trumpet; Monday’s Drop(s), e-bow drawer) and a bunch of voice recordings culled from “online sources, old vinyl and radio programs”. This has very little to do with the usual lo-fi constructions but it is rather expansive piece music with occasional orchestral proportions, interspersed with electronic outbursts and a multitude of voices. Sometimes there seems to be a rather random approach to the use of well… all of it, instruments and voices, distributed over a vast amount of tracks and in ever-changing combinations with each other, coming to the listener through various routes of sound effects. It can take a long form, or very short ones, cut up to small bits, expanding to massive sound bursts and chaotic collaging. And perhaps in a sense that is also very much the world of Falt; it is a collage, after all, like we know and love them from this label, but now one that is quite a bit different. (FdW)
––– Address: https://falt.bandcamp.com/
Mar. 4 we had one more review by Fontas Troussas in Diskoryxeion (in Greek)
ΚΩΣΤΗΣ ΔΡΥΓΙΑΝΑΚΗΣ νέα κασέτα
Από τη γαλλική κασετο-ετικέτα Falt μας έρχεται η πιο καινούρια δουλειά του Κωστή Δρυγιανάκη, που έχει τίτλο “Chained to theWorld” (2018) και που περιλαμβάνει ένα track, αποτυπωμένο σε όλη την 30λεπτη πρώτη πλευρά (της). Η ηχογράφηση έχει δημιουργηθεί στο διάστημα Ιούνης-Ιούλης 2018, στην πόλη Βορόνεζ της Ρωσίας όπως και στην κωμόπολη Κριθαριά της Μαγνησίας.
Και σ’ αυτή την ηχογραφική περιπέτειά του ο Δρυγιανάκης δεν είναι μόνος του. Δίπλα του ή εν πάση περιπτώσει στην εγγραφή ακούγονται και οι Μαντώ Αναστασίου βιολί, Χρήστος Καλτής μπάσο, Φάνης Παναγιωτόπουλος σαξόφωνο, Αγάπη Ζάρδα τρομπέτα, Monday’s Drop(s) e-bow drawer(;), ενώ επιπρόσθετες εγγραφές προσφέρουν οι Olya Gluschenko, Λάμπρος Ζαφειρόπουλος και Σπύρος Χαρμάνης – με τις φωνές που ακούγονται να προέρχονται από online πηγές, παλαιούς δίσκους βινυλίου και ραδιοφωνικές εκπομπές.
Όπως αντιλαμβάνεται ο ψυλλιασμένος αναγνώστης-ακροατής (εκείνος, εννοώ, που έχει μιαν επαφή με τη μουσική του Δρυγιανάκη), εδώ έχουμε να κάνουμε με μιαν εγγραφή, η οποία συνδυάζει πολλά από τα ηχητικά μέτωπα του πειραματισμού, δημιουργώντας μιαν αφήγηση.
Υπάρχει, θέλω να πω, ένα πλαίσιο πίσω από το ηχογράφημα ή αν δεν υπάρχει αυτό (το πλαίσιο) τότε απλώς δημιουργείται, καθώς γεννιέται. Θέλω να πω πως τα όρια ανάμεσα στην προετοιμασία και το αυθόρμητο δεν είναι ποτέ σαφή, και ποτέ δεν ξέρεις αν ό,τι ακούς (στη λεπτομέρειά του) είναι προκαθορισμένο (προσωπικώς δεν το πιστεύω) ή αν αποτυπώνεται μια διάθεση της στιγμής (με κάποια βασικά στοιχεία προετοιμασίας).
Φυσικά, μια τέτοια δουλειά προϋποθέτει «παίξιμο» στο στούντιο (ή στον σπιτικό υπολογιστή σου), εκεί όπου θα συμβάλλουν όλες οι επιμέρους «διευθύνσεις» προκειμένου να επιτευχθεί η ποθούμενη μίξη.
Ήχοι λοιπόν αληθινοί ή περίπου (δανεισμένοι από δίσκους ή από το ραδιόφωνο), μια γλωσσική πληθώρα (ελληνικά, ρωσικά, αγγλικά, γερμανικά, γαλλικά κ.λπ.), με φωνές να γράφονται πάνω σε άλλες φωνές κ.ο.κ., που εκτρέπει την εγγραφή προς μια κατάσταση βαβέλ, εκεί όπου δεν έχει σημασία τι λέγεται, αλλά απλώς ότι κάτι λέγεται και βεβαίως… αληθινά μουσικά όργανα που εισβάλλουν και «γεμίζουν» με νότες το γενικότερο δρώμενο, προσδίδοντας μια περαιτέρω αίσθηση «χάους» στο ακρόαμα.
Στο bandcamp διαβάζω τις λέξεις «κλειδιά»… experimental, avant-garde, electronic, musique concrete, sound art, tapemusic… για τη συγκεκριμένη καταγραφή του Δρυγιανάκη. Είναι κάτι απ’ όλα αυτά; Σίγουρα. Και άλλα ακόμη, ίσως… Αν και το θέμα σε τέτοιες εγγραφές, τόσο ρευστές και απρόβλεπτες, δεν είναι τόσο οι ορισμοί αυτοί καθ’ αυτοί, όσο η απόφαση να τις ακούσεις και να τις ξανακούσεις με τη δέουσα προσοχή, ερευνώντας τη δική σου ψυχολογική «παρουσία» μέσα σ’ αυτές. Τούτο είναι το σημαντικότερο όλων.
Apr. 11, one more review by Joshua Minsoo Kim in Tone Glow
Costis Drygianakis named his newest album after a line in Tom Waits’s “Dirt in the Ground.” That song establishes a distressing nihilism from its very first lines: “What does it matter?/A dream of love or a dream of lies/We’re all gonna be in the same place when we die.” This context sets the tone for Chained to the World, an album that feels weighed down by the world’s disheartening realities, exacerbated by a relentless news cycle. As such, Drygianakis inundates the listener with speeches and conversations and news broadcasts. While they persist throughout much of the record, they’re frequently foregrounded by other instrumentation, revealing how the tumultuous state of the world can occupy one’s headspace even when engaged in other activities.
Near the end of the piece, one hears a report on a biotech company called ImmunoGen. Even as there’s a glimpse of hope heard in the information about potential cancer treatments, it’s offset by a mention of how certain technology can prove profitable for the company. Even more directly, we hear the news of a fire engulfing a building, and a woman fighting back tears as she states, “I just want everything to be false.” While a lot of the album’s emotional heft comes from the arrangement of these voice recordings, they’re bolstered by an assemblage of instruments that wander in and out. While at times sparse, the playing always contributes a feeling of restlessness. Chained to the World really feels just like that: an embodiment of the world’s inescapable chaos.