Annick / Philomela
Tokyo Mask: Route Painless
Sister Overdrive's Annick/Philomela offers an hour-long immersion into ambient soundscaping of the heavily textured kind. Each of the two settings is split into five distinct parts, but each piece is best broached as a singular if multi-limbed entity. The recording is the brainchild of experimental producer Giannis Kotsonis who sculpts his settings using a wide range of source materials (found objects, field recordings, electronics, etc.). “Annick 1” emerges slowly from silence to form a dusty wind cloud within which faint cricket chirps and the ebb and flow of ambient textures can be heard. There's an ample amount of activity in play, but the overall mood is largely becalmed. Things turn noisier and more turbulent during the second part when clatter, rumble, and distorted tones collide, and the unsettled mood carries on into the third as field recordings and screeching metallic noise expand the increasingly industrial sonic palette into even more disturbing territory. “Annick IV” pushes the work into a dark ambient zone dominated by rippling drones, cavernous rumble, and ear-piercing sheets of noise, not to mention environmental sounds of workers hammering and traffic noise. One's nerves will remain on edge during the deep space plunge of the closing section, even if it brings the volume down to a micro-sound level at times. As a totality, “Annick” comes close to being a half-hour nightmare given aural form. In contrast to its counterpart, “Philomela” (which originally was composed as a theatre piece) opens aggressively, though quickly shifts the focus to micro-sound pulsations that Kotsonis ruptures with abrupt percussive intrusions. A low-pitched meandering theme is nearly buried under waves of vaporous emissions during the first part, whereas a female soprano's voice easily rises above the brooding mass in the second. As it moves into its final moments, “Philomela IV” quietens even further before snapping back to attention at the last part's onset and then fading away altogether. In general, “Philomela” opts for a restrained style of sustained moodscaping that doesn't rule out constant change; in fact, there are even moments during “Philomela III” when one could mistake it for an early Vladislav Delay out-take, given that, in his Entain-period style, Delay also would punctuate long stretches of ambient drift with percussive clatter of unidentifiable character.
Tokyo Mask's Route Painless is an altogether more aggressive outing from the Low Impedance stable. In this case, Kostas Karamitas (at present an Electrical Engineering student in Patras, Greece) opts for a loud and even sometimes brutalizing wall of sound generated from processed field recordings, guitar, bass, drums, and other noises. Track titles such as “The Human Wreck” and “Death Drive” hint at the material's demonic character, while the tracks themselves live up to that titular promise. Hopefully, Karamitas has given drummer Nikos Baskozos a share in whatever profits the release generates, because the massive kick he gives the three tracks on which he appears makes a huge difference. Baskozos drives “Control” with a thunderous rolling attack that propels the tune's guitar-fueled industrial noise textures and then powers “Death Drive” in like manner with combustible playing that offsets the feedback-infested swarm of primitive noise Karamitas assembles alongside it. “Bastard Son” burns up the tarmac for nearly thirteen minutes with Baskozos playing at a slightly slower tempo and Karamitas upping the noise ante with a throbbing tsunami that eventually crawls to a deflated close as it segues into the recording's most restrained setting, the funereal outro “New Gods Call.” With Baskozos sitting out, drums assume a secondary role in “The Human Wreck” where Karamitas's focus is directed more towards building an immense drone mass. An intense trip on the whole, despite the relatively subdued ambiance of the recording's final minutes.