Optical Music

Tomos 2

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Completed and released six years later than Optical Music's first album, Tomos 2 takes a very different direction. While the Greek group's first opus was more improv-based, this CD proposes four pieces that stand somewhere between contemporary classical, sound art, and new age. The four untitled movements (approximately 15 minutes each) were assembled by Costis Drygianakis and consist of extended ambient pieces mixing synthesizers, light electronics, specific instrumental contributions from a dozen musicians, and samples from a wide array of field recordings and ethnic music (the sources of which are listed exhaustively in the booklet). The music is inhabited by a "world" feel that makes its avant side easier to digest. The first movement makes extensive use of a groove lifted from a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan CD. Lush and tribal, it displays an energy level that will remain unmatched. In the second movement, a single piano motif is used as a leitmotif to establish a minimalist atmosphere. Delicate arrangements like dreams wide awake turn it into the best track. The third movement becomes more aerial and lacks some substance. The last piece begins with Dimitris Yiagis reciting "Psalm 103." Sound textures rise in a crescendo, exploding into a slow rhythm that fades out, leaving strange Gothic overtones to linger before the curtain drops on a gentle final piano cadenza. The group feel of the first album has evaporated, leaving Drygianakis in complete control of this studio production. More focused than his Post-Optical Landscapes but also less daring, Tomos 2 points more toward the music of Stathis Theocharakis: soft, genre-blending, accommodating extremes with brilliant disregard to conventional forms.

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