Ilios: composition, all sounds except cello (Nikos Veliotis) and voice (Alice Hui-Sheng Chang)
I’m not going to repudiate my use of Google Translator to discover that the record’s title is the Esperanto rendering of “Indefinable Essence”. Which, oddly enough, contrasts with the impression of stark nakedness expressed by the three tracks, anticipated by a cover portraying the utter desolation of a dump in a sunny day, pigs seeking nourishment from the rubbish as crows are observing the scene.
The music is outstanding, pointing to different routes while maintaining a fundamental coherence linking the intrinsic worth of each of the sounds utilized. In that sense, Nedifinebla Esenco connects Ilios’ visions with certain aspects of Jim O’Rourke’s work supported by field recordings and studio tampering (pun intended). “Spirito Sen Nomo” starts with a long stretch of static mechanical noise – think a closely miked vacuum fan, but it’s a mere guess – leaving room to a magnificent section of faraway vagueness terminated by Hui-Sheng Chang’s nightmarish wailing, in turn born from shrilling pitches of uncertain descent. “La Ponto Kiu Transiras La Abismo” is a classic study on the pulsating phenomena deriving from subsonic frequencies – both pseudo-linear and arching/sweeping – which will cause the encephalon to swell if listened via headphone. For this writer’s usual necessities (namely, forgetting the loud voices expressing unremarkable people’s second-rate delusions from the quotidian) a veritable medical aid. “La Farja Nubo Kiu Flugas En La Krepusko”, the last and longest piece, is perhaps the most intense on an emotional level. At the outset, one barely distinguishes what happens in a general semblance of far-flung murmurs and – again – quivering lows. Careful not to raise the volume for a better decoding, though: after 3 minutes or so, an earsplitting aggregate of stratified distorted signals – like hundreds of amplified radio waves complemented by a dozen buzz saws – might justify a heart attack to the weaker percipients. As the clamor subsides we’re left with a shivering vocal cluster, Chang crying unaccompanied for a few seconds to introduce a helping of impressive subterranean droning enhanced by the sound of heavy rain. Veliotis’ cello leads the ceremony from this point on to the very end, a spirit’s call to awareness brought forth by a cold stare halfway through metropolitan sorrow and sempiternal reiteration.
Survival of the fittest, they used to say, and we’re still alive. Chalk up a chef-d’oeuvre for Mr. Dimitris Kariofilis.