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CD Feature/ Parallel Worlds: "Obsessive Surrealism"

img  Tobias

To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before: These are the aims immediately associated by many with the Berlin school of electronics and its vintage synthesizers. It is an analogy which has been both beneficial and detrimental to artists from this field, who have either used the association to their advantage or tried in vain to circumvent it. On “Obsessive Surrealism”, Bakis Sirros has finally shed the notion altogether, freeing analog equipment from its supposed ties with the cosmos.

Which means that although Sirros still likens his output to Tangerine Dream, Jean-Michel Jarre or Klaus Schulze on his MySpace account, his music has a contemporary ring to it none of these icons will probably ever attain: Obsessive Surrealism” eschews the hypnotic sequencer patterns typical of the genre, instead opting for brooding ambiances, placing tactile drum machine whispers underneath interwoven strands of chime cycles and quiet marimba motives. It is a highly personal style, which veils its influences underneath a cloak of minimalism, awarding each element a seminal role in the workings of a highly sophisticated organism.

Another substantial characteristic of the Parallel Worlds sound is its demonstrative preference of melody. While pulsating grooves push tracks stoically forward, it is the short, at first all but unnoticeable themes placed subtely on top, which provide for a sensual and irresistible pull. Duetting with rhythmic developments, like a single billowing and ebbing bass tone, they keep the mind engaged and relaxed at the same time, taking the listener gently and firmly by the hand.

While these factors promise instant satisfaction, the album also has its spikes and thorns. Sirros enjoys stop-and-go motion over minutes-long phases of mechanical repetition and regularly cuts off his tunes right at the moment when they seem to come to full fruition. There are no triumphant hymns to be found on “Obsessive Surrealism”, no hits or obvious stand-out tracks. Even the harmonic bliss of “Mindmists” and the more poignant subsequent “Pale Yellow Sky” are fully integrated into the record’s flow, refusing to erupt like a volcano against a blackened sky.

The reason seems simple. Sirros has spent a full years perfecting every little detail of this work and has no intent of sacrificing the impact of the album as a whole for the sake of a couple of hummable jingles. “Obsessive Surrealism” is driven by its coherent mood, by its deep layers and diverse timbres and colours, by its subtle melodic archs and surprising emotional evolution. It is to be seen as a novel rather than a collection of short stories and as such, it does a remarkable job of keeping the tension simmering for its full duration of over an hour.

Sirros must certainly have felt the desire to make his love for the new generation of sound artists like Board of Canada or Autechre more apparent or to at least integrate tiny quotes from his various sideprojects into the mix (and maybe the industrial club connotations of “Distracted” can be regarded as such). The fact that he has resisted this temptation in order to keep his vision tightly focussed is an important one. It is this persistence, after all, which frees Berlin-school-inspired electronics and analog gear not only from the mandatory dictate of the cosmos, but also from the necessity of simply dissolving into what the public currently regards as “progressive”, “innovative” or “up-to-date”. A promising foray into strange new worlds.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Bakis Sirros/Parallel Worlds
Homepage: DIN Records

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