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CD Feature/ Red Needled Sea: "Old River Blues"

img  Tobias

The first few releases of Themis Pantelopoulos’ Triple Bath label once again prove that in these days of scattered markets, labels can turn into catalysts and quality control mechanisms. Without his efforts, “Old River Blues” might have been considereed an exciting, yet leftfield album without obvious and quotable references. Now, one can see it as part of an unfolding scene, which awards just as much importance to “musicality” as it does to mood – and as a work with many openings and promises.

I am even tempted to say that Panos Alexiades, the sole face behind Red Needled Sea, is approaching something unique, a minutely crafted music with deep emotional resonances. His style combines the textural with the thematic, weaves organic, nonlinear melodies into a soft quilt of drifting drones and incorporates a broad range of sentiments into a genre often labelled “intellectual”.

The latter is not to be understood as a four-letter word here. Alexiades is not afraid of intelligent arrangements and of using his classically trained technique to take his pieces to a different level. “Under the River”, one of two longish tracks on “Old River Blues”, sees him sprinkle chord clusters, mantra-like repeated sequences, sharp subsidiary seconds and romantic onomatopoeia on his piano to a continously changing backdrop of sinister atmospherics. In the the even more stretched-out title track, hummed backwards harmonics and hissing tones slowly die down, melting to the point where there is only whisper, before Alexiades closes everything down with a spacy, heavily reverbed lullaby on vibes.

To put it short: “Old River Blues” is an ambitious album. It embraces more musical elements, takes aboard more ideas and approaches and exposes its audiendce to a wider range of sensations than 90% of what is out there. And, most importantly, it always subordinates these ambitions to the imperative of creating a coherent and imaginative whole.

For Triple Bath, this is yet another brave release between the worlds of sound art and the avantgarde. In its scope, it resembles Pantelopoulos’ “Ocean of Inexistence” from late last year, even though “Old River Blues” is more compact and slightly more closed in its ambiance.

Which points to the fact that the label may have penetrated an invisible scene of similarly minded artists – and that there may be more where this came from. If that be the case, then the album holds a promise beyond its own horizon.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Red Needled Sea
Homepage: Triple Bath Records

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