Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Sakis Gouzonis – Vast Victory


This one is an electronic instrumental album that is somewhat outside of the scope of what’s generally written about here and, I’ll be honest, outside the sort of thing I’d normally listen to, the musician in question describing his starting-point in electronica as coming from “a compilation album produced in 1995 [that] contained tracks by Jean Michael Jarre, Vangelis Papathanasiou, and other talented electronic composers. I immediately fell in love with the electronic melodies, chords and beats.” That’s not an area that I’ve particularly explored in any depth aside from, and this is at a tangent probably but I discovered them concurrently with Jarre’s UK singles chart success with ‘Oxygene’, the French electronic/disco group Space (Didier Marouani) who I’ve always loved.

To be honest, what attracted me to listening to Vast Victory was not, then, it’s heritage of influences, but the highly organised and professional way that Gouzonis himself presents his work. Indeed, it was something of a breath of fresh air compared to some material that arrives for consideration sans any background data or sense of who the musicians themselves are. And, in listening, to Gouzonis’s work – though it’s not sending me scuttling back to his influences and, for me, displays some of the problem that I have with electronic music of the Jarre or, particularly, Vangelis model in that I find it sometimes hard to really dig into the soul of the compositions, I have to say that its vividly realised and music that I’ve stored and will no doubt listen to again.

From his biographical information then, Sakis Gouzonis is a Greek musician, resident in Elassona but born in Thessaloniki, on 16th March 1978. He’s served in the Greek army and worked as an English teacher in a private school, but it seems that music is his primary focus these days, having released four albums previously, mostly in MP3 and on CD and becoming highly regarded in his native Greece while achieving recognition on International radio stations.

I’m possibly hearing some of Didier Marouani’s style in ‘Now I Am Free’ on this, his fifth LP – which naturally appeals – but it’s an album with a wide remit. ‘Be Like The Wind’ waltzes in gracefully like the soundtrack to a stylish musical before finding its electronic rhythms, and that sense of orchestral grace is displayed throughout the record, the smoothly refined elegance of ‘This Land Is Yours’, the quietly triumphant intro to ‘I Am Your Provider’, or the lush and optimistic ‘You Are Not Alone’. So a lot more of this record worked for me than I’d anticipated and I’m very pleased to have heard it.

“I make music because music drives me more than food, sleep and sex,” Gouzonis says. “I make music because it was one of my earliest comforts. I make music because I like to spread happiness. I make music because music is my breath. I make music because I am a musician. Music lifts the spirit up. But also just to enjoy the music, have fellowship and a good time!”

Sakis Gouzonis Official Website

Moon Duo – High Over Blue

I’m constantly bemused, to say to least, how little traffic I’m seeing around my space-rock friends and forums about Portland, Oregon-based Ripley Johnson, formerly of Wooden Shijps, and Sanae Yamada: Moon Duo. It’s not like they are some sort of precious secret, they’ve been over to the UK on a number of instances – in their latest jaunt recording a live session for Marc Riley on BBC Radio 6 which went out on 16th July and so is currently available on the BBC’s Listen Again service, and their albums, Mazes and Circles, have received very positive write-ups – as did their Horror Tour EP on this blog a couple of years back. And yet… in places where I’d really anticipate a lot of love and enthusiasm for their sometimes instrumental, sometimes vocalised, music, I rarely hear about them. Why is that?

Here’s a opportunity to download twenty minutes of their music, ‘High Over Blue’, which was previously only available as an iTunes bonus track, part of the sessions that yielded their Circles LP:

It’s a lusciously hazy, messy, trippy mish-mash of addictive hypnotic madness underpinned by some insistently Floyd-esque rolling bass lines that seems to drift into a vortex of infinity. Free to download, bound to make you want to dig deeper. Then catch them in the UK during Summer 2013:

16th UK, Greenman Festival
17th UK, Manchester, Deaf Institute
18th UK, Skipton, Beacons Festival
19th UK, Newcastle, The Cluny
20th UK, Brighton, The Haunt