Monday, September 28, 2020
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cover
Artist: Stephanos Vassiliadis
Title: En Pyri / Bacchae
Format: 12" + Download
Label: Holotype Editions
“En Pyri” and “Bacchae” are a pair of 1970’s electroacoustic experimental recordings, dusted down and remastered a decade after Vassiliadis’s death with the support and facilitation of his family.

The first, “En Pyri” (‘in fire’), from 1973 or 1976 depending on what you read, is an unreleased version of a composition previously released in other forms. It invokes the memory of a car crash which claimed the life of Vassiliadis’ first wife, among others, and it’s a violent and harsh anguish-ridden piece where drones turn into screams. Periods of awkward calm precede slowly mounting cacophonies of squeals and harsh brass and bass wails. It’s a piece of sheer catharsis that’s both attention-grabbing and alienating.

The second and longer piece “Bacchae” from 1974 is a more sedate piece, originally conceived and only ever performed live as part of a theatrical performance at the University of California. Adopting more of the ethnic Greek traditional music and organic natural drumming rhythms as a layer that wanders in and out among the other elements, there’s a strong sense of proto-ambience here- a relatively classical form which acknowledges the melting pots of prog rock and electronic avantgarde of the time and which also seems to predict future chillout and Eno sounds, especially in the slightly dreamier, more sci-fi second half.

The two pieces manage to be both of their time, and slightly ahead of it, and are a real indicator that Stephanos Vassiliadis’ work deserves more retrospective attention.

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