Ars Moriendi literally means "the art of dying." Petros Theodorou has created a puzzling, genre-crossing multimedia work, a science-fiction short story that brings together spoken word, song, electronic music, and image in the case of stage presentations. A succession of three spoken parts with musical background and three "songs," the 36-minute piece is included in both Greek and English versions on the CD (for a total of 72 minutes). Michael Hughes interprets the English text. In a faraway future, a being (is he still "human"?) records a letter to his cousin, describing his mental depression caused by nostalgia. Lately he has been visiting the remnants of a refugee camp, Ars Moriendi, a reserve for mutants (they are, incidentally, regular human beings). What he senses (through telepathy) gives him a new perspective on time and death. The text, full of old syntax and expressions and Hughes' hectic pace and seemingly uncontrolled dramatic emphasis, conveys the impression of someone not used to communicating through speech. The music during the spoken parts is made of lush keyboard flourishes, harsher noises, and brutal, cartoonish sound effects. They all enhance the narrator's soliloquy or offer a parallel narrative. The songs, interpreted by mezzo-soprano Lilian Tsatsaroni, are delicate, stripped-down, and very touching, recalling Theodorou's song cycle Beatrice. The result is a fascinating work full of contrasting elements -- profound, but very hard to describe or categorize. It was premiered at the opening of the 2001 International Science Fiction Conference in Thessaloniki (Greece) and simultaneously released by the conference and the bookstore The Unknown Kadath, through an agreement that keeps the album available for free to anyone who requests it from Theodorou at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture