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Kostis Kilymis: Better music through lying

img  Tobias Fischer

How would you describe the process running from thessaloniki 1963, a diary from b to c to Temporary Perspectives?
I haven't gone too far, really, I think I've just sharpened my instincts. I started recording first and performing later, which meant that, for a while, I was seriously removed from the actual impact of music-making itself. I did a sharp turn at some point in early 2009 with a small run cdr (just another daily bummer) that was recorded live and pretty much in one straight take, which wasn't very distinctive but quite emotional to perform. So you can say that somewhere along the line I discovered that it was okay expressing things the way I was, a huge revelation for me at the time. It didn't change the sound of what I did dramatically, because I continued to be drawn to the same sonic phenomena, but it did change my take on things.

You mentioned biorhythms and issues of human perception as a key theme for the new album.
The whole album has a linear progression - it is like a story, and each part of the story builds on the previous one. Its different parts are taking different angles – perspectives - in reading what is going on. The emphasis is on the auditory experience, being a listener and how we place ourselves inside the listening experience, how this affects our senses and ultimately, in some brief moments, how we perceive our surroundings. Some parts of the disc impose a more passive participation, some are more open to outside sounds and the outside world, some are colder and yet others bear only glimpses of emotion. So these shifts set the stage for a series of different atmospheres - not atmospheres in the old ambient music way, which is almost always simply imposing a feeling - but different conditions of listening.

You've mentioned „untampered improvisation“ as an important area.

You will allow me to backtrack from that a little. I actually wrote that at a point where I recognized I needed to work on my actual playing more than I needed to work on arrangements. And since then, I have benefited greatly from engaging directly with the realities of music, not simply creating or capturing sound-objects or situations to be manipulated at a later point. So it was both a philosophical point, but also a realization of what was more important for me at that moment, in order to evolve as a musician.
But I won't be keeping things strict here I think. Live, I consider myself to be performing not just with the sounds coming from my setup, but also with the space, the audience, the ambient sounds coming from outside, the mood set by the previous set of music if there was any and so forth - of course, the fact that I usually also channel/feed back sounds from the actual performing space does play its part here, but I think I would consider things the same way even if I didn't. Looking back at Temporary Perspectives, some of these elements are also at play there. The record is looking straight into the realities of listening, after all. Here I was forced to, let's say, "direct" these elements in one way or another; at one point you are in a space with lots of room ambiance, then suddenly it all drops out and you're in the cold space of bits and bytes, or you're deep into sinewave territory when all at once sounds from the street outside intrude for a few brief seconds.
Live, I would be dealing with the moment and performing in the moment; on the record I chose to comment on the things that take place when we experience the moment, this was something I wouldn't have been able to do using a 100% transparent live recording. I had to engage with the listener's attention in a different way so I chose to provide a fixed set of conditions in order to better illustrate all the parameters I described above. So, even though improvisation can yield more exciting, truer results you might say, I've come to think that when it comes to a record you can always try to lie a little.

What kind of spaces and sonic phenomena interest you as possible points of departure for your sound work?
I am quite untalented when it comes to capturing sound in the field, but I think I can do a decent job at pulling something worthwhile from within it. Many of the captured sounds come from everyday situations in public spaces. I look for pervasive textures or tones that each time award a specific character to the situation. Even though I don't "use" this character per se, it's good to have it there. I then use all the events that take place inside the recording as something to build upon.
This "character" in the recordings can also be important conceptually. On some parts of Perspectives for example, the sounds of my room seep through to the recording, and this was done on purpose, because the tracks have a lot to do with the act of listening itself. And it was important for me to have in there the actual sounds I listen to almost every day, in order for the whole thing to ring "true" - there is a flipside to this, there are elements in the record which were subtly performed but then dressed to mimic experienced sound.
I am also quite active when recording sound. I rarely sit on one spot and wait for the sound to reach me, I go around looking for it and sometimes even end up using bits from the actual process.

How did the arrangements for Temporary Perspectives come into being?
It all happened by ear. I worked on a pool of material that I expanded and built upon from time to time, developing arrangements, connecting the pieces  and so forth. At some points, there were shifts in my level of understanding of what was going on in the material, which means I didn't necessarily have a clear picture right from the start. Of course some of the pieces were easier to approach; the last track was done live and in one take, and the basic recordings behind "Much remains to be broken" suggested clearly much of the end result. But I rarely start with ideas and even if I do, I usually end up dropping them in the process. Instead, I start with sounds that I will examine and build upon.
On Temporary Perspectives as a whole, there is a line connecting all the material. But even this line only appeared roughly 80% into the making of the disc, months after most of the arrangements had taken shape. Having had the whole "story" brought together, it was easier to fine-tune the details. But at that point I already felt like I was supervising the material more than creating it.

What made it so hard finishing some of the pieces?

I couldn't really find closure for a while. This time I was convinced to make something communicative, something that would be getting some thought across to the listener. And there I was, having a few bits in the disc that you'd call expressive - some, but not too many - and then a lot of space is taken by parts that are more passive, that are all about listening. So how do you put the punch line to something that evolves almost despite of you? In the end, I used up so much time because I had to sleep on some of the sections for a while, in order to make it work and for it to make sense.
But other than that, it wasn't as extensive as it looks. The dates [2006-2009] have to do with the fact that a lot of the material that runs through the record evolved in different batches throughout these last few years. Actual work on the tracks was more like 2008-2009, but in terms of materials used (and in one case the basic tracks), they go a long way back, all the way to my first experiments with sound.

There does not seem to be a typical official press release to Temporary Perspectives. Does that mean you like listeners to come up with their own interpretations?

It's best to hide a good idea. No, seriously, good music for me doesn't come with a manual. Plus there are tons of references and interconnections on the release itself: the sleeve, the pictures, the titles, the subtitle - enough to keep someone busy for some time if they're so inclined. On top of that, I think we're in need of a more immediate connection with this music. I want to like things because I like them, not because I want to like them.

Homepage: Kostis Kilymis
Homepage: Organised Music from Thessaloniki

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