1 December

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Andy Moor and Yannis Kyriakides – Rebetika (2010, Unsounds)

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Whilst homage can often feel pastiche, derivative, or just lazy, Andy Moor and Yannis Kyriakides’ (re-)interpretation of classic Greek rebetika guitar works is instead rather fascinating and wholly original. Featuring Moor on guitar and Kyriakides on computer, Rebetika captures the duo in live action in Glasgow, Groningen, and Amsterdam between 2006 and 2007. The pair combine to de/re-construction classic Greek rebetika recordings and in the process craft pieces from the source materials that are at times intuitive and ruminative and other moments fragmentary and alien with the results bearing little resemblance to the source materials. The opener, “Minores” (using “Minores Manes” by Stratos Pajiomdsis) begins unassumingly featuring only subtle manipulations of Pajiomdsis’ original work. As the seven minute track unfolds, Kyriakides forges labrynthine paths that entrance the listener without overpowering the innate solemnity of the original tune. Moor sprinkles the piece with some tasty and odd interjections: full and half-note plucks along with nauseating harmonic barbs, both of which add a surprisingly percussive sense of unease and disquiet. By the time the listener has arrived at track four, the album’s nine-minute centerpiece, “All is Well,” one has been fully pulled  down the rabbit hole. Dimitirs Kontogiannis’ “Eimai Finos Magkas” provides fodder for Kyriakides glitch-laden affair which is an unholy amalgam of early-Cluster and Greek broadcasts on a shortwave radio that is ready to give up the ghost. Moor continues to possess an astounding awareness, realizing all the while that his guitar must simply be a passenger and conduit and not take center stage (no pun intended), as the guitar so often does. Moor and Kyriakides’ Unsounds label has no shortage of excellent releases, but this one certainly ranks among the best in their catalogue.

8 July

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Magda Mayas and Christine Abdelnour — Myriad (2016, Unsounds)

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Pianist Magda Mayas and saxophonist Christine Abdelnour are two of Europe’s most exciting improvisers. Accordingly, this live performance from 2011, released on Andy Moor’s Unsounds,  the duo explore a host of textures, volumes, and motifs, resulting in two stellar tracks. Opening with the autumnal “Hyrbid,” Mayas and Abdelnour immerse the listener in a space that is either spatially or mentally remote. One can easily envision this as the auditory phenomena encountered when sitting on a desolate bench in the late afternoon. The piece is tenuous, yet emotive. Abdelnour’s saxophone remains almost painfully restrained. Mayas knocks the piano strings and focuses on every bit of the instrument but the ivories, making for a highly fascinating listen. At around the 11 minute mark, a foggy shroud descends. Mayas slowly introduces some “traditional” playing, while Abdelnour seemingly covers the bell of the sax and begins working through some bits that sounds like the grinding of coffee beans. The final two minutes crescendo into a frightening, horror show-esque conclusion, which dissolves almost as quickly as it appears. The second track, “Cyanide” feels much more mysterious. Abdelnour provides a rhythmic anchor, while Mayas contributes to the atmosphere of the piece, which thematically likens back to the introduction of “Hybrid.” Taken together, the pieces form a strange and slightly surreal sonic daydream. A great work, by two fantastic musicians of international repute.