Fontas Troussas | Jazz & Tzaz | issue 178 | January 2008
translated from greek
The Athenian Triple Bath (perfect CDR productions of 96 copies closed in elegant colored covers) is introduced to the readers of Jazz & Tzaz, at first through the one-man project Red Needled Sea (Panos Alexiadis). "Old River Blues" is an abstract work of avant electronics that develops/evolves through various levels. Piano associations à la Harold Budd and electro-ambient à la Eno and Aphex Twin, coexist in an absolutely slowly burning extent, but not necessarily egocentric.
Dene Bebbington | Melliflua | December 2007
Greek musician Panos Alexiadis records solo work under the moniker Red Needled Sea. "Old River Blues" is a limited edition work of melancholic ambience that slowly drifts the listener along on a river of tones, drones and abstract atmospheres. Where instruments are used for producing something other than drones it's in the vein of amelodic refrains. Rumbling sighs like the breathing of a giant, or air funneled through a building, get things going in the opening track "Save As". Lonely notes are heard here and there as though we're walking through a cavern where unseen things lurk in the shadows. The most absorbing and evocative track is the slow burning "Under the Sea". A subtle drone like the hum from power cables and quiet ghostly sounds initially deep in the background, act as a continual but gradually changing and increasingly resonant backdrop. Then echoey sparse piano notes play eerie almost discordant refrains which add to the sense of a journey seeking to find the truth of hidden secrets. In the piece "Never Forget" searing refrains like highly distorted guitars wail across the soundscape as if we're party to an outpouring of grief. Falling off in intensity it continues in the same vein but at a lower level. Then closing the album is the title track "Old River Blues". Hard edged drones mix and occasional sonics like microphone feedback gradually fade to nothing while a wistful melody and detuned notes create a quietly contemplative aural setting. Even when the tones are on the harsh side there's something oddly beautiful about this work. The sounds are constructed and melded together in a special and absorbing way that only a few drone artists, such as Matthew Florianz, can do. Take a peaceful hour out of life for listening to "Old River Blues" and your reward will to be carried along to undiscovered thoughts and memories. Like a good wine, it's there to be savoured.
Alan Lockett | e/i Magazine | Installment 15 | December 2007
Moving into a different and more variable frequency range (than "Eidolon" by Simulacra), we find Panos Alexiadis, who's already poked around the piano on previous Red Needled Sea releases. Now, on "Old River Blues", he takes the ivories for a runaround in some less surveyed textural fields. Alexiadis varies between more purist ambient compositions to light dronology and on to a form of electronic minimalism, occasionally pushing into the realms of improvisation, albeit a reined-in version. His old Johanna is the most present of elements, treated variously with soft digi-showers and drone-backwashes, while periodic electric guitar infusions impart more timbral resonance. Despite the odd sighting of an ambient trope, Alexiadis manages to avoid setting off the worst cliché alarms, as he stretches out his doleful atmospheric miniatures. A music of withdrawn but graceful manner is proposed, steeped in melancholic minor keys redolent of solitude and abandonment - wherein maybe lies the linkage with the spirit of the eponymous blues. There are also some undertones of the oddly disengaged engagement of Andrew Chalk and the odd look in the direction of his Mirror, beyond which can almost be glimpsed the spectral outlines of Popol Vuh. "Old River Blues" is suffused with a strange sense of evanescence - of music that's almost not there, or half-there half-mirage, or, once established as there, forever abandoning you, but yet somehow always returning.
Tobias Fischer | Tokafi | November 2007
The first few releases of Themistoklis 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 considered 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 Alexiadis, 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 labeled intellectual. The latter is not to be understood as a four-letter word here. Alexiadis 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 continuously changing backdrop of sinister atmospherics. In 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 Alexiadis closes everything down with a spacey, 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 audience 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 avant-garde. 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.
Charlie Martineau | Connexion Bizarre | November 2007
Red Needled Sea is the solo project of Panos Alexiadis, who is based in Athens, Greece. One of the things that immediately stood out to me on "Old River Blues" was how nice the piano contributions are and how much they add to the overall atmosphere of the work. Another quality this disc has is how well each track flows from one to the next so seamlessly. The second track, entitled "Document", caught my attention right away with its gentle drones and static-like background noises. Towards the end of the track a more prominent drone comes into play and before you have time to completely bask in it, it fades out with the rest of the song. "Under the River" showcases Alexiadis' piano training, which adds its share to the atmosphere of the piece, as it flows perfectly with the background ambience. Although it is almost thirteen minutes in length, the track flows flawlessly and is something to become easily lost in. The transition into "Document II" is so smooth that one could easily not know he or she is listening to a new track, although the piano is absent this time around. What ended up being my favorite track on the disc was "Never Forget", because of how much it stood out from the rest. Although it has noisy textures throughout, it still keeps the calm feeling of the rest of the disc. Red Needled Sea has a lot to be proud of with "Old River Blues" and it is easily one of my favorite drone pieces made by someone I haven't been previously familiar with in quite some time. In fact, several moments here and there reminded me of drone luminaries such as Andrew Chalk, which means Alexiadis has to be doing something right.
Bauke van der Wal | Gothtronic | September 2007
"a soundscape of melancholic opalescence through which raises a solitary hopeful sense of finding a truth at the end."... this catchphrase would fit many dark ambient releases but despite that, Red Needled Sea is able to turn it into a very nice fit. The CD is filled with oppressive ambient soundscapes which are combined with erratic piano tunes. Atmospherically it is not far from being the soundtrack from an unreleased horror movie. Some of the tracks radiate a sincere loneliness ("Document") which definitely adds to the mental imagery. Other parts of the album lack a bit of production skills which at times suffocates the sincerity of emotions to let it really grab you. The CDR - in an edition of 96 copies - ends with the title-track based on guitar ambience à la Troum or Aidan Baker, combined with the piano and mixed with minimal noises. Together with the second track "Document" they are the highlights of this album. "Old River Blues" by Red Needled Sea is definitely worth exploring, as it has been the case with more releases on the Triple Bath label. It's maybe not the best release you've ever heard, but it will show you a good time in the aural perspective while you're lying on the couch, reading up on H.P. Lovecraft or E.A. Poe.
Ian Holloway | Wonderful Wooden Reasons | September 2007
The last time I reviewed Red Needled Sea it was his 3" mini-CDR on Dirty Demos. It was a nice little release but a little too brief to establish a firm opinion. This new release on Triple Bath rectifies that situation more than satisfactorily. Here Panos Alexiadis allows his project a much wider scope accentuating his drones with guitar and piano flourishes that means the album as a whole feels less insular and more vibrant than its predecessor (which was by no means a bad album). The drones are Mirror-esque in places although a far greater reliance on identifiable melodies and instrumentation allows Alexiadis to explore his own path to a beautiful destination.
| Lunar Hypnosis
| September 2007
Red Needled Sea is the solo project of Panos Alexiadis who is located in Athens, Greece. Even as this project is only a few years old, Panos has had many releases already, although they have only been released on net labels in mp3 format, CDR's, and cassettes. His latest and the topic of this review is "Old River Blues", a CDR limited to just 96 numbered copies through the Greek label Triple Bath. Additionally, besides his solo activity he is also active in the doom metal band Heavensore as their drummer. The music in question here is of the dark ambient variety, though it's a bit more than just the usual droney stuff. Of course the music has a drone quality to it, but there are little extras that add a bit more interest, such as melancholic piano parts and even some industrial sounds, which actually sound like distorted electric guitars rather than just normal noise. The music is mostly calm the whole way through and to me at least most of the music has sort of a feeling of longing to it or as if something bigger is on the horizon. On the other hand the title track "Old River Blues" is a very despondent piece which leaves the listener feeling rather disheartened. It's a bit hard to describe fully, but what I can say is that this is an enjoyable release from Panos and I do believe I'll have to try downloading some of his net releases soon.
Frans de Waard | Vital Weekly | issue 592 | September 2007
Panos Alexiadis' project Red Needled Sea may need no introduction: many of his releases were already reviewed in Vital Weekly. Earlier this year he gave us a release which featured the piano, and "Old River Blues" takes matters on the piano a bit further. The title is already poetic and the music drifts nicely. The piano is heavily processed in the digital domain and with all the electronic treatments going on, it's sometimes hardly recognizable. Red Needled Sea also adds electric guitar, which give more textured layers to the music. Highly ambient in approach, but Alexiadis keeps an experimental element alive in his music to prevent it falling into kitschy new age. At times dark, somewhere else things light up, but always it's highly atmospherical. Anything connects with ambient music of Eno and thirty years onwards passes by, except that there isn't a single beat around here. A very fine release.
Jaap Kamminga | Ikecht | August 2007
translated from dutch
Red Needled Sea is Panos Alexiadis. Taught in classical piano and sound engineering and lately quite active on several experimental labels (TIBProd, Dirty Demos, SQRT, Epicene, Ambolthue and now Triple Bath). On this disc there are six new tracks concerning something more than three quarters of an hour. Soundwise, this disc goes up many sides. Set up from drones to dark ambient to free improvisations on piano, everything in quite experimental manners, with rather much use of original instruments - I get the idea (drones of bass, deformed electric guitars and piano of course). All this makes for a disc with the state of abandonment being present all around. With only a small point slightly lift from this way from time to time, which however extinguishes it fast again. Unprecedented beauty which sits on full sorrow. That is a true rendering of melancholy. Musically, it goes around quite varied drones, harmonious landscapes of electric layers from the guitar and monotonous middle frequencies, all this complete with vague disharmonizing elements of piano, and all of a sudden those pieces seem traditional in a modern way, with free improvisation at times and a returning light melody line in order to keep the light visible at the end of the tunnel. The six tracks differ one to each other rather in style, but make altogether a strong whole. A disc that keeps you captivated and that continues to draw you to the chair until there is no longer, pushed away by sorrow and melancholy until the disc reaches its end in a beautiful manner. Now, this is really the disc that is a mandatory expense for everybody that loves experimental ambient, drones with melody and other music lovers. Rush for this impressive disc before it is already gone.
Thodoris Kolsouzoglou | Tranzistor | June 2007
translated from greek
Don't be drifted by the title of this release since it has no relation with blues music. The only common element they both share is the melancholy that you will find in every corner of this disc. Red Needled Sea is the personal project of Panos Alexiadis who is left to be drifted by primary sounds that can cause some interest to him. In "Old River Blues" you will listen from soundscapes of pure ambient composition to dark and heavy drones and from minimal electronica up to the most absolute free improvisation. The piano touches create an exceptionally melancholic atmosphere. If "Old River Blues" finds you in a period of loneliness then you should expel it far away. Its nature is so solitary that does not leave margins for nothing more. Its unique aim is to disaffect you through each melody of the piano, through each harmonic note of electric guitar, through each of its noise.