četvrtak, 14. ožujka 2013.

Mohammad - Som Sakrifis (2013)

Mohammad - Som Sakrifis

Grčki trio koji kontrabasom, oscilatorom i violončelom bocka život u donjem dijelu frekvencijskog spektra. Momumentalni blokovi zvuka kreću se jako sporo i svojom težinom prave bolna udubljenja u prostor-vremenu.


PAN's 2nd issue of 2013 is a deep moving, funereal suite of drone compositions by Mohammad. Based in Greece, the chamber music trio features previous PAN contributor Ilios (oscillators) alongside Coti K (contrabass) and Nikos Veliotis (cello) and has previously issued two albums on the Antifrost label prior to writing this abyssal, viscerally affective opus. Their 'Som Sakrifis' works to principles of inter-modulation between electronic and acoustic sources in a practice they've honed over many years together. Harmonising the friction between dense, tectonic blocks of sound at the lower end of the frequency spectrum, they create emotionally-charged subduction zones with physically overwhelming, earthbound gravity. It's a sound which resonates instinctively with the doom musics of KTL, Oren Ambarchi or Raime through a singular intent of purpose to daunting effect, and somehow reminds of the elemental structures of Romanian spectralist composer Iancu Dumitrescu, as if binding his near-metaphysical deep space electro-acoustic projections so tightly their dimensions collapse, forcing ruptures in space-time; stygian black holes to netherworlds whose "logic is perhaps more akin to that of Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr than many contemporary music references" as the label puts it. Whatever way you look at it, it's is a fearsome piece of work, not to be taken lightly, but preferably sitting or lying down. - boomkat

It’s midnight and you are on a deserted beach, an island somewhere off the west coast of Cambodia. In the distance, a bright light repeatedly pulsates. It twinkles and swells, a conspicuous gleam radiating below the stars and above the water’s surface, an uncertain measure from where you perch on the sand. They shut the generator down hours ago, allowing the black cloak of evening to smother the bamboo huts behind you. For a while, that palpitating glare is the only assurance that you are not alone, that something has been synchronized to illuminate at specific intervals — a calming sign in the otherwise unknowable canyon of the witching hour. Someone calls your name from an uncharted direction. The illusion is almost shattered.
When darkness is all that surrounds, even the faintest emanation can provide a sense of optimism. But even when that darkness morphs into alternate forms — a stagnant wall of bleak and irrepressible audio, for example — the level of discomfort is by no means diminished. Instead, it allows faith to emerge in the most unexpected places. Listening to Som Sakrifis is akin to finding one’s way in the blackest of pitch — it embodies sensory deprivation at its most unnerving, where sound becomes remarkably important in providing indicators as to where one might actually be — the crashing of waves on an Indochina shoreline in one instance, or the the distinct vibration of cello string fibers in another.
Mohammad consists of Nikos Veliotis, Costantino Kiriakos, and ILIOS, three artists from Greece who demonstrate their mawkish grit on cello, contrabass, and oscillators respectively. Som Sakrifis is their first release on PAN, and it holds the potential to literally drench its audience in uncompromising free-fall drone of the most miserable temperament. Whereas the term “drone” may have been given questionable press of late, particularly in conjunction with misguided EBow experiments and ambient mediocrity, Mohammad pump it full of scorched engine oil and set the whole downhearted business ablaze. What prevails is the aftermath: a foul-tasting gust of smoke that pins one to the spot before forcing participation in some kind of hypnotic procession.
Cards on the table: what we are dealing with here are three excruciatingly slow pieces of music that suggest the aforementioned instruments are being painstakingly abused. Som Sakrifis resides in a stygian realm between the flickering stars and the bioluminescent plankton that outline faraway ocean activity. However, on the album’s second side, a high-pitched bleep emerges from the gloom: slightly off kilter, its presence hangs throughout 17 minutes of murkiness. Although it comes surrounded by the low-end moan of protracted strings, the bleeping operates as a focal point that engraves its way into the desperate effects that surround it. After repeat listens, those moments encompass a degree of familiarity, a signpost, the incarnation of an outlying lighthouse or some moving entity on a pulse doppler. Despite its prominent aura, that glimmer of aspiration remains a mere fragment of the overwhelming sensations that are channeled here.
Suspense exists in a cradle of fades and breaks that are nurtured through Veliotis’ delicate strokes. The cellist is responsible for any given central body of sound, which is complemented by hollow rumblings of contrabass before ILIOS embarks on his distorted frequency shifts. The effect is so alienating that one’s immediate reaction is to step back and look for pattern recognition, a shade of hope or a sparkling beam on the horizon, which partly explains my lingering on the dominance of “Liberig Min.” Nevertheless, such suspense resides within the unquestionably addictive qualities that are carved out of each track, deep along the crevice of layered reverberation and crystalline largo. This adds immensely to the album’s twisted charm, whether it comes in the form of mournful vocals on “Sakrifis” or the rise and fall of modulation tweaks on “Lapli Tero,” the interplay between those convoluted sections are every bit as tempting as the trauma they instigate.
Several minutes pass and you wait, motionless. The waves continue to beat on the sand in front of you and the pulsating light persists in its steady rhythm. But whereas once it felt solicitous, a focal point that resembled consolation at a time of abandon, now it encroaches as a seminal distraction beating mercilessly into every contemplative thought. Embracing the darkness is the only feasible option, regardless of how it makes you feel. You breathe it in like vaporized anesthetic and pray that it will never end. - Birkut

Certain projects appear to be born in heaven, or at least to perfectly fit in this writer’s private cloud nine. Mohammad is one of them: string music entirely revolving around the lower frequencies of the audible spectrum substantiated by electronically engendered substances, moving across the room – and our awareness – with authority and poise at once. Drones that stay put for a while, then suddenly turn left or right inside a glissando-generated dull pain. An inexpressible force, often equaling the sensation of abrupt shock transmitted by the stomach when we drop ourselves from a high place without anticipating the consequences; think of a plunge into the sea’s water from a huge rock when the sky threatens heavy rain.
Som Sakrifis is a vinyl release that lasts about 32 minutes. Short, yes, but as they say in the trade it’s better saying few significant things that overwhelming the listener with a mass of useless bullshit. Gorgeousness lies practically everywhere in each of the three pieces, completely constructed on subsonic massiveness augmented by the players’ acute sensibility in realizing when an instant is propitious to steer towards a new grouping of pitches. It’s there, in this continuous up and down within the territory of the giant buzzing hum, that the trio’s acoustic dignity is expressed in all its prominence. The longest track “Liberig Min” uses as a metronome of sorts the tweet of a marshland bird; coincidentally, the same sound that used to enlighten my nights during peaceful summer periods that are not going to come back.
As I’m grievingly remembering those states of grace, Coti K, Ilios and Veliotis’ ill-omened shades remind me that today’s world is uglier. Still, if you can get yourselves to be permeated by their plangent influence, a continued existence devoid of pointless thinking and vacuous intellectualization of too-deep-to-explain issues – only strengthened by the sheer magnificence of this type of music – might become an inestimable means for acquiring a dose of much desirable mental placation. Even if the internal turmoil persists, ever quantifiable in vibrational incidence. - Massimo Ricci
Formed of a trio including Coto K on contrabass, cellist Nikos Veliotis and ILIOS on oscillators, Mohammad specialise in long form drone pieces that sound perfect for a Tuesday evening at Cafe OTO. To date, the Greek trio have released two albums on the Antifrost label, debuting with Roto Vildblomma in 2010 and returning a year later with the triple LP box set Spiriti.
Due for release in March, Som Sakrifis finds Mohammad in typically immersive form, presenting three arrangements described as “monumental slow moving physical blocks of sound, both daunting and musical”. The final track “Liberig Min” is indeed quite daunting, hogging the B-side and clocking up an impressive seventeen minutes. Newcomers to PAN drawn in by the recent dancefloor-leaning material from Heatsick, NHK’Koyxeи, Lee Gamble and SND & NHK might be slightly flummoxed by the addition of Mohammad, but Bill Kouligas’ label has always had a healthily experimental outlook, with recent releases from Helm, Eli Keszler and the ensemble of Mika Vainio, Kevin Drumm, Axel Dorner and Lucio Capece all covering similar sonic territory.
Rashad Becker at D&M has once again been employed for mastering and cutting duties for the vinyl edition of Som Sakrifis, which comes pressed on 140g vinyl and housed in the expectedly high standard of packaging and sleeve art from label boss Kouligas and Kathryn Politis.- Juno Plus


Roto Vildblomma (2010)

  1. Mohammad - Vildblomma
  2. Mohammad - Skóra
  3. Mohammad - Łamane Kradoj
  4. Mohammad - Letzten Tränen
  5. Mohammad - Luminus Vuori                 

If A Tribe Called Quest hadn't snagged the title Low End Theory for their second outing, it would have been just fine for this outing from Antifrost head honcho Ilios (oscillators), Coti K (bass) and Nikos Veliotis (cello), whose five tracks need to be heard at considerable volume over a good set of speakers to yield their spectral secrets. It's serious, mysterious stuff, as hard to translate at times as the track titles which appear to be in Polish, Swedish, German and another language I can't identify – free earplugs for anyone who tells me where "Luminus Vuori" comes from. This last piece is the most curious of all, probably because it's the most conventional, with Coti's bass sounding like some ancient folk fiddle played at 16rpm, with Veliotis's torpid strumming in the background. After all, gloomy drone is par for the course these days, while hummable, metrically regular melody is so rare it sounds positively extraterrestrial. That said, the former prevails here, and as all three musicians have been playing the low, slow game for over a decade now you can be sure they know what they're doing in the nether regions. Still, it takes a bit of courage and concentration to follow them down there.– DW PARISTRANSATLANTIC (FR)


SPIRÍTI  (2011)

Another early start, another depressing day, but home early enough to be able to first get some rest and then spend some quality time with some music. I have been listening today, and on and off for a few weeks now to a new box set of three vinyl discs by the Greek group Mohammad, who consist of Nikos Veliotis, (cello) Coti.K (double bass) and Ilios (oscillators). This new set, named Spiriti comes a year after their fine debut Roto Vildblomma, which I wrote about here. As I wrote this evening though, despite having been sent digital files of the music quite some time ago I notice from the Antifrost label’s website that the release won’t be out for another ten days or so. I guess then that for once my slow approach to writing about things has actually seen me time this one about right.
The music here then is really interesting, thoroughly riveting stuff, but it isn’t quite what I had been expecting, which is always a good sign. The three discs each have individual titles, which are then split down into further tracks. There are eleven tracks in total, with five of the six ‘sides’ containing two tracks each of roughly seven minutes in length per track, and the one remaining side, the second half of the first disc containing just the one eleven minute long piece.
So disc one is named Malad Van, and the first side opens with a really striking, and surprising piece that I can only really describe as somewhere between death metal played on classical instruments and a traditional string quartet slowed down so far that only heaving bass groans remain. The music is entirely composed, and actually thoroughly melodic, essentially a series of riffs that you find yourself humming along to, but all working with extremely deep, bassy notes, churning, grinding strings wrapped around a simple three or four note tune. Yes, a tune! albeit it a very simple one that doesn’t really develop beyond this simple coda and regularly slips into the more familiar constant drone we are used to from these guys. Its actually really addictive, to some extent fun music. The use of the minimal repeated forms reminds me a little of a group like Tortoise, but slowed right down, with rhythm replaced with a study of bass-heavy overtones and an overall sense of claustrophobic maybe even oppressive drone. The theme follows into the second piece, with some variation, but the third track, which takes up the whole of the reverse side is a very different affair. Here we are presented with a dark, murky, field of straining grey abstraction, sprinkled with bits of clatter and with Ilios’ oscillators cranked up (or down) to such a degree that the throbbing pulses seem to crack up into an almost mechanical sounding rattle. It all remains low key but with so much happening at almost subsonic levels. At low volume it feels like the calm after the verve of the opening pieces, but turn the dial a little and the room begins to shake.
The second disc, named Yap Divoce then continues the pattern of mixing understated drones with more dramatic passages. The opening Ülvi Borzadás might be the most beautiful piece in the set, more virtually stagnant tones undermined by hard to identify abrasions and the slightest of tonal patches. Its followed immediately by Sunn O))) meets Bach at one third speed though, a deeply morose if consistently tuneful piece named Moniman. The other side matches two similar tracks again, one subsonic and empty, the other darkly melodic.
Disc three, titled Dis Koraci continues in a similar vein, the opening Grad being a monolithic stream of intense bowed chords that really overpowers the listener. The following Dis Kumi is then contrastingly low-key but with plenty enough going on under the bonnet to keep my speakers trembling on their stands here. The pattern is broken slightly on the last side of Spiriti though as the brittle pulse that opens the track is pushed backwards by a thick, syrupy sinetone that into which we suddenly hear traces of more familiar sounds, first an aircraft can be heard, maybe then dogs barking and we question if we really heard it or was it just an illusory effect caused by the layering of tones. As the music drifts into what sounds a bit like a diesel engined bus engine ticking over in a resonant tunnel other sounds appear, maybe water dripping in a damp space, then traffic. Are these sounds there or does the music play tricks on our ears? They are there, but the almost hallucinatory effect of the droning throbs leads you to wonder what we are really experiencing. The closing Koraci is then a rousing, bold piece akin to the track that opened the entire set, but with a sense of grandeur and magnitude that is fitting for the close of such a bold statement of a release.
I don’t think I know of anything else quite like Spiriti. It shifts severely away from improvised music, but also contains an awful lot more than just any old drone album. Its a really physical, viscous set of music, a study in low frequencies and how they interplay when forced into different, often surprising circumstances. This is completely uncategoriseable music that could appeal to a very wide audience as it touches on so many different areas, but it will only be released in an edition of 280 copies, so, if like me you want a copy then it might be a case of getting orders in quite quickly. Extraordinary. - www.thewatchfulear.com/

This 280-copy limited edition triple-LP box, the sequel to last year's intriguing Roto Vildblomma, will, I suspect, appear in many reviewers' best-of lists. Mohammad – Nikos Veliotis, Coti K and Ilios – seem to have been born to produce ominous sonorities together, and this set definitely places them in favorable position to dominate Subsonic Valley while keeping a residence in Dark Melody County. There may be three discs, each with its own title (respectively, "Malad Van", "Yap Divòce Tectónica" and "Dis Koraci"), but the core of this music is one and only one: the purveying of gaping tremor, either self-sufficient or strategically placed in a basic configuration not describable as a "tune", but maybe a part of one, perhaps conceived by Black Sabbath, played on a mellotron and transposed down an octave. The timbral recipe – cello, double bass and oscillators – leaves no doubt on what the ears identify and descramble for the brain to retransmit to the body. The essential traits are right there: a powerful kind of subliminal throb –  the sort of oscillation that sets loose objects in rattle-and-buzz mode at less than whispered volume – is persistently in motion, almost never absent. Its clutch is occlusive and convincing, the habitual sturdy pulsation materializing in a few seconds. Still, it's not just low-frequency galore. The lyrical material (no better way to call it) revolves around extensive tones intertwined in mournful counterpoint and a quasi-systematic use of glissando, a phenomenon which some scientist should study to understand its emphatic repercussions on human consciousness. Similarly,  the extraordinary morphing hum that characterizes "Ülvi Borzadás" at the onset of the second album would be valuable for therapeutic purposes. On the other hand, "Moniman", the awesome "Tectonica" and "Grad" sound like East-European folk melodies slowed down to tortoise pace, unembroidered funeral marches for the ottava alta. Not to mention a handful of infinitesimal details (including even a barking dog) that underpin the gloomy moods and the sense of physical desolation. Act fast and secure a copy of what is destined to become a cult item.MR www.paristransatlantic.com/

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