Darren Bergstein | e/i Magazine | Installment 9 | July 2007
Symphonic might be an oxymoron when hitched to drone/noise, except for the case of Nokalypse, where such contradictory styles are vigorously forged during the very act of creation. Surely the longest compact disc to thus far grace this reviewer's collection (it clocks in at a towering 81-plus minutes), yet there's not a wasted moment or squandered idea to be found. Like his olympian moniker, Nokalypse seeks to stamp some grandeur onto his fractured fugues: the five epic-length tracks are each broken up into a number of distinct suites bearing titles such as "Duality of Singularity", "The Drive to Gradual Arrogance", "Oasis Amidst the Brutal Vulgarity" etc. Such constructs painfully suggest that Nokalypse is forever stuck in some middle-school sub-Elizabethan poetic purgatory and that conclusion would indeed be correct if the attendant sounds surrounding these portentously-titled pieces weren't so utterly mind-fucking. Yes, this is all symphonic stuff, as the multi-tiered works teeter from fire and brimstone to industrial browbeating, from hard-drive battery hum to febrile glitch, from deep Moog space-pings to ordered pianissimo, all on a dime. Orchestral electronics that brings to mind an ungainly ménage à trois featuring Nurse With Wound, Hirsche Nicht Aufs Sofa and Klaus Schulze in dark - cloaked embrace - a scary proposition to be sure. Nevertheless, this is a superb piece of work.
Andrea Vercesi | Chain D.L.K. | June 2007
"Ocean of Inexistence" is the third album by Themistoklis Pantelopoulos aka Nokalypse, out in a limited edition of 96 copies on the Triple Bath label. The atmosphere on the CDR is somehow bleak and gloomy but it would be misleading to call this dark ambient because it doesn't use any conventional sound of this genre. Nokalypse's strategy on this cd is to blend electroacoustic rumblings and Tangerine Dream-like synth-lines with electronic pulses that will startle all those familiar with latest Xela, adding some piano here and there. In the end there are many ideas and some of them are really good, but the overall feeling is that the composition is still a bit harsh and the album far too eclectic for my taste.
Ken Hollings | Wire | issue 277 | March 2007
The first release from Themistoklis Pantelopoulos on his own Athens based start up label is so micromanaged that each of the five main tracks has been further subdivided into smaller subtitled sections. The result is an uneven collection of passages that, while arresting in themselves, lack focus and direction when taken together. The neatly stacked percussion on Underred and some fuzz toned acid rhythms neatly separated out in the mix of Carreira make you wish Pantelopoulos would cut loose a little more often. As it is, the emphasis on build-up over climax, together with a weakness for infinitely withheld momentum, means that much of the best work on "Ocean of Inexistence" ends up languishing somewhere between the faintly discernible and the barely audible.
Matt Howarth | Sonic Curiosity | issue 292 | March 2007
This release from 2006 features 81 minutes of moody drone ambience. Nokalypse is Themistoklis Pantelopoulos. Dark ambience is the keynote here, with sparse layers of environmental sounds spliced together with desolate electronics designed to instill the listener with extreme foreboding. Scraped cello lends a hint of classical presence to the overall stygian ambience. Strummed harps waft in the distance, as if too frightened to integrally join the rest of the music. Passages of delicate ambience erupt with illbient fury, pursuing a grail of electronic fury before falling prey to their own exhaustion and sinking in a mire of minimal pulsating drones. Aggressive outbursts are liable to sputter out without warning, giving way to further expressions of dark sonic wrath. As the pieces progress, mass accumulates, punctuated by a rising sense of melody buried in the gloom. Harsh sounds swell and periodically overwhelm the atmospheric night like meteors plummeting from the sky, but the irascible melancholic mood proves triumphant in the end, returning the tunes to morose structures of minimal expression. These compositions explore a strict dedication to decay and rebirth from the resulting ashes. Structures are built and then collapse under their own spurious weight. The consequent mood is one of brows furrowed under duress while entropy feeds on the world.
Thodoris Kolsouzoglou | Tranzistor | March 2007
translated from greek
The ruined temple of Nokalypse got re-inhabited in 2000 by Themistoklis Pantelopoulos in order to reflect on us even more the fear of night and infinity. This, third official work of Nokalypse is titled "Ocean of Inexistence". It is undoubtedly a monumental disk open to all the currents of modern experimental sound. Majestic compositions stand undisturbed through chaotic atmospheres, being tied by intelligent sound-equations. In the space unfolds a splendid sound-collage with the five basic parts of the album easily being characterized as sound poems of diverse sentimental situations. Surprising are the sparsely thrown-in rhythmical parts, something that Nokalypse had not got us used to in his past (two albums). Composition of this disk began in September 2004 and completed in April 2005. Released by the up-and-coming Athenian label Triple Bath in only 96 carefully-made copies.
Maurizio Pustianaz | Chain D.L.K. | January 2007
Limited to only 96 copies, "Ocean of Inexistence" is the third release of the project conducted by Themistoklis Pantelopoulos and it is also the second release for his own CDR label. The album is divided into five main tracks which are also divided into different movements and if at a first listening it could recall some Klaus Schulze/Vangelis tracks, by listening to its whole length, "Ocean of Inexistence" is more faceted than you could think as Themistoklis starts playing with ambient solutions but soon after he adds elements of industrial, electronic and experimental music giving to his tracks a deeper existence by creating different moments/movements where the atmosphere turns from light and dreamy to dark and experimental... where sounds take a hold on melody just to drop down the hostilities and changing again, forming a sort of tense soundtrack (like in "Orgiellegro"). Very intense but unfortunately strictly limited. At Themistoklis' website I read that there are only 16 left. Check it out in a hurry!
Bauke van der Wal | Connexion Bizarre | January 2007
Each person travels a musical journey on which he or she encounters many forks in the road. Nokalypse's biography talks about these travels and therefore his musical development. And this is cool, because many steps are audible in his music of which "not afraid to experiment but still come up with a solid and harmonious release" is the best and definitely most valuable lesson he learned. The five tracks are in length between 10 and 25 minutes and they were given mysterious names like "Poetrig", "Orgiellegro" and "Aggrauche". Each of the tracks is built from fragments which could be seen as shorter tracks on their own. These short tracks are also all very nice on their own, but through the combination of the tracks the whole album is definitely more then the sum of its parts. The finalized product - albeit burned to CDR in a very limited edition - guarantees a journey through various timbres of music. From ambient through influences from post-rock, classical music and experimental soundscapes towards rhythmic tracks and even filmic scores. Nokalypse is Themistoklis Pantelopoulos and this release is done on his own (new) label Triple Bath. This means that Themistoklis did the distribution, production, graphic design as well as the music. And he did a good job on all parts. On the website the tracks on this album are called sound-poems, and who am I to contradict this very well found description. A small last remark is that there are various kinds of poetic schemes and personally, I'd go for a bit more sonnet-structure instead of more dadaistic or modern poetic structures. But that is just a matter of taste.
Tobias Fischer | Tokafi | January 2007
Themistoklis Pantelopoulos is a modest man. So modest in fact, that he has spent the last ten years with fanatic listening, before arriving at his first release as a solo artist under the cloak of Nokalypse back in 2005. Even though modern times seem to dictate that wherever you're going, you ought to get there fast, there are certainly a couple of benefits in allowing things to mature - finding your own style instead of copying the other cool cats around for example. In Pantelopoulos' case, it has also allowed him breathing space to set up his own label, Triple Bath, and to do things just the way he wants them. So, while "Ocean of Inexistence" is no debut in the strict sense of the word, it is one in spirit. Here, the Greek eclecticist is allowed to roam the corridors of his surreally illuminated musical attic like a little child on its first curious journeys through the house (only difference being, this is a very big house). Themistoklis has experienced the techno revolution and the explosion of big beat in the early and mid-90s just as much as phases of adoration for stadium rock, ambient and classical music. But it is his ongoing fascination for Progrock and Steven Wilson's Porcupine Tree in particular which have put a stamp on this album. In five complex compositions of medium (10 minutes) and extensive (23 minutes) length, he reconciles melancholic piano reverb with burping and bleeping acid, juxtaposes shadily gliding drones with rugged but melodious industrial and proves himself as a master of both elegant transitions and raw breaks. The intellectual concept behind the work, which is tangible at every stage, from slightly pretentious titles such as "Droid Events of Gnomic Relevance" or "Space Exists As Far As You Don't" to the breaking-down of every single piece into several interconnected parts, has however not translated into mere head music. "Ocean of Inexistence" offers just as much food for dreams as for thought and doesn't require you to study music theory before listening. Its surprises stem from subtle sources - the confoundingly seductive channel switching of the opening "Poetrig" - "Duality of Singularity" or the way the closing "Aggrauche" constantly changes tonal colours and leaps from sound to whisper and silence. This is music for concentrated listening from tip to toe. Don't even try to put this on while doing the dishes or getting up. It's headphone music, too, with myriads of shimmering details appearing behind the already delicately textured surface. An ambient-made vision of what Progressive Rock could sound like in an empty Mars probe on discovery mode, this has the potential to please everyone with an open ear and an ambitious palate. It should also get rid of Themistoklis' modesty - this was under serious consideration of becoming "album of the month".
Michael Chocholak | via e-mail | January 2007
I know Themistoklis has a concept going here - with subsections within sections - the whole CD is set up this way (also has some great titles that I'm jealous of), but I listened to the CD many times and each time I went from beginning through to the end. For me it comes across as one overall work. I enjoyed the places where the sound coalesces into electronica, beats (which are very cool), structured ambience, and some very Eno/Budd & Eno/Fripp atmospheres (the two segments that were offered as previews - both excellent). These are points that certainly focus the listeners attention, but I'm also taken in by the vast sonic spaces between the the more structured moments - the tapestry of sound that he builds bridges with. These are just as interesting to me. It becomes like a journey with recognizable landmarks along the way, but largely filled with subtle topographies where you are transported dreamlike to the next station. Islands of music in an ocean of sound. Think of it as the dreams and nightmares of Ulysses in the years following his return home.
Moodi Drury | Freenoise | December 2006
How can you be super-minimalist, extremely fragile and frighteningly loud and volatile all at the same time? Another stunning offering from the fledgling Greek label run by Themistoklis Pantelopoulos (whom I suspect is the artist behind this), following only a month after the first release but composed between Sep. '04 and April '05. This time a whopping 81:16 minutes with some rather intelligent and thought-provoking sounding track titles (or rather sub-sections of tracks) inviting me in; eg. "The Drive to Gradual Arrogance"; "Space Exists As Far As You Don't" and "Congregatory Contradistinction". After a truly superb gradual building tsunami wave in the three parts of "Poetrig", track two, my personal favorite, "Underred" enters into the realm of ultra-deep rhythmic trance with an urgency which turns out far more sophisticated than anything I've heard from latter day underground techno-meisters (eg. Cypher, System 7) but then that's the nature of the material; for listening, and what pleasure it gives. Understated synth-solos glide over layers of frantic beat, giving way ultimately to introspective, nightmare visions of freestyle piano competing with sub-bass drones and malfunctioning holograms of dolphins in distress... Fear not, the 3rd part of this 2nd movement harmoniously titled "Cycles of Fulfillment" brings belonging back to the picture; the piano is rather classical and even new-agey but never overrides the mysterious theme of the 12 minute piece. The 17 minutes plus of "Orgiellegro" is a very loud and unrestrained slow melodic analogue synth-stab exercise, well executed and inspiring, the theme continues with "Carreira" resulting in a rather lengthy visitation into deep space with minor nods toward more obscure Jarre as well as Tangerine Dream and Phil Niblock, an oriental style melody floats in at the end, reminding me of the Ozrics, although it is unfair to say there is influence from any of these directions, the whole album being so strong and original overall. The final "Aggrauche" proves there was no shortage of ideas during the eight month recording session and more ultra-ambient scapes evolve painfully slowly, over a brave 23:27 minutes, giving way to a seemingly unending menagerie of bizarre sonic images, the gorgeous ambient drones all the while subconsciously keeping me hexed stock still on the chair to the very end. Warning: do not drive, operate machinery or attempt to speak whilst listening to this truly great work, in fact use it to escape from such futile nonsense. And I thought I was going off electronic music.
Jaap Kamminga | Ikecht | December 2006
translated from dutch
"Ocean of Inexistence" is the second release on the greek Triple Bath label. On the first release I reported that this label had been set up by a real music-lover not to spread his own music. However, now Nokalypse is the project of the label runner Themistoklis Pantelopoulos, therefore a release of double importance. This disc is here now, again a CDR release, like this label will continue to do but this time in a limited quantity of 96 copies. On the disc which concerns more than 81 minutes of music, there are five tracks, each being subdivided in several parts. But approximately everything on this disc flows in fact in a rather smooth way into each other part. Music reaches from neoclassical to ambient and everything in between but in any case no voice or voice samples are used. It is a captivating journey along valleys and big heights but especially it's valleys. Nicely formed. A journey which can be followed best in headphones but also on speakers. A journey which encounters with beautiful influences of everything and still, the nevertheless clear ambient soundscapes remain, no matter all the sonic processes taking place. And all that in a way that make a truly captivating 81-minutes long disc. With this, being his third CDR release (of which I do not know the earlier two) this time on his own label, Themistoklis took good care. An amazing release, where music is not indeed of the most accessible type but for those that dare and want to listen to sonic experimentations - however, without being something renewing - worth it.
Frans de Waard | Vital Weekly | December 2006
Triple Bath label owner Themistoklis Pantelopoulos works as Nokalypse and as such he has already released two CDRs, of which I heard only "Axiac Infinity" on Echomusic (see Vital Weekly 481). Pantelopoulos calls this "reflections of ambient, electroacoustic, classical" but for me it's mainly ambient, albeit of a darker nature. Five lengthy pieces, spanning in total 81 minutes(!) and most tracks are divided into several parts. It's system music: music that goes from system to system, sounds are linked to each other and seem to follow out of each other in a kind of natural way. Things move slowly and in a minimal way, occasionally rhythmic but the emphasis lies on producing highly atmospheric music. Some of these pieces could easily fit the Mystery Sea label (I wouldn't be surprised if he releases there in the future). This music hardly holds a surprise but it's executed with great care. Perhaps a bit long but at the same time it's the longitude that works well and is perhaps needed for this kind of music.