Costis Drygianakis

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The work of Costis Drygianakis may not have enjoyed much recognition outside Greece, but his activities as composer, teacher, and label director (Edo) make him an important animator of the avant-garde…
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Artist Biography by

The work of Costis Drygianakis may not have enjoyed much recognition outside Greece, but his activities as composer, teacher, and label director (Edo) make him an important animator of the avant-garde music scene outside Athens. He has published recordings with the collective Optical Music and under his name.

Drygianakis was born in Volos, a region he remained dedicated to as he struggled with other artists from the realms of music, theater, and visual arts to keep an experimental cultural scene alive. He studied physics at the University of Thessaloniki, but by 1985 (at age 20), he had already decided to devote himself to music. He began playing keyboards in his teens with Egopigo, a semi-professional group that left no recordings. In the summer of 1984, he came up with the name Optical Music, which he applied to a loose collective of musicians (including Yiannis Argyropoulos, Christos Kaltis, Kostas Pandopoulos, and Alexis Karavergos) working as a studio unit. Approaching music as a source of images, applying concepts from visual arts to improvisation and composition, the group blended acoustic instrumentation with electronics and Greek folk influences with contemporary classical, avant-garde, rock, and jazz. A first album came out in 1987 and the group broke up.

The development of sampling and recording technologies focused Drygianakis' attention for the next few years. He performed in Ross Daly's group and contributed to the electronics laboratory/studio Graffiti in Larisa where he met Stathis Theocharakis (he appears on the EP Egkainia). His new interest in sound collage led to Optical Music's Tomos 2 in 1994, a much different affair with a new lineup (including Theocharakis, Daly, Christos Foulias, and Dimitris Yiagas) providing source material for him to assemble in a more ambient way.

Around the same time, Drygianakis started to teach at the newly inaugurated department of computer music at the Volos municipal conservatory and his activities multiplied. He wrote music for documentaries and theater (excerpts of the latter can be heard on Drama in Volos: Sound Documents 1994-2001) and exhibited an installation at Alli Poli, an art space managed by longtime friends and collaborators Thanasis Chondros and Alexandra Katsiani.

In 1997, Optical Music made a couple of rare live apparitions presenting conceptual performances mixing sound, visuals, and theater, but at the end of that year, Drygianakis retired the name and "went solo," ready to assume his work instead of using the protective shield of a collective. When Pandopoulos decided to incept a record label of experimental music, he offered him the artistic direction. Among albums by other Greek electro-acoustic composers, he released a string of solo CDs, including Post-Optical Landscapes (1999). At the turn of the century, he began to perform as a laptop/electronic artists, taking part in improv sessions. He supplied electronic textures to Theocharakis' Wish You a Nice Resurrection (2002).