Parallel Worlds

Obsessive Surrealism

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It's a distinctly odd place, Parallel Worlds, a universe Bakis Sirros has been building up over a series of intriguing albums. Obsessive Surrealism is his Worlds' fourth, and once again we are invited into the dark recesses, but of what and where precisely? The aural landscapes are not really dystopian, although they're all far from anything one could describe as pleasant. One begins by walking into a world "Beneath Fear" taking "Different Pathways" through the musical maze. Both numbers induce a somewhat clammy feel, a reflection perhaps of the cool dampness of this underground world, or maybe just a primordial reactive nervousness to the unknown. In either case, if the numbers intended to heighten this sense of disquietude, they certainly succeed. The vistas are totally alien, the rhythms often discomforting, the atmospheres quivering with a sense of foreboding, the melody lines brooding at best, gloomy at worse. Strange noises intrude from the shadows, and there always seems to be something skittering around busily in the darkest corners of the pieces.

One imagines the many sci-fi plots involving humans walking unnoticed through strange worlds, while all around them exotic creatures scurry about performing inexplicable tasks. The explorers' initial fear gradually dampen, but never quite dissipates, as wonder and curiosity arise in its stead.

Sirros is the master of this mood, his rhythms, often slightly askew, keep listeners off-balance, his simple melody lines are equally off center, teetering between light and dark, increasing one's sense of insecurity, while the gloomy atmospheres heighten the tension. "Into the Caves of the Mind," for instance, is a master work whose center is totally askew, and "Increasing Complexity" shows how it's done, as Sirros takes a simple, pretty keyboard melody and slowly builds it sequentially block by block into a thoroughly haunting number. The richer sound of "Reflective" is like a distorted infinity mirror, with a million lights looking into darkness. "Empty Human Cells" is more rhythmic in orientation and thoroughly creepy in feel, while "Distracted," the set's only compulsive, driving piece, is a manic ride through the netherworld. But for all its alien feeling, the track titles suggest this bizarre world is not to be found in a galaxy far, far away, but within the mind of a human nearly as unknowable. A chilling adventure in every sense of that word.

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