Tobias Fischer | Tokafi | November 2008
In September, Triple Bath celebrated its second anniversary. For anyone with an eclectic musical taste, this was a feat to be celebrated. In the relatively short time of its existence, Themis Pantelopoulos' label has effectively proven that there is not just a common denominator to Experimental Sound Art, Drones, Dark Ambient, the Avant-garde and Jazz, but that these genres may actually be mutually adding to their respective qualities when efficiently juxtaposed. Even though print runs have been limited to 96 copies, the fact that all but a few releases have by now sold out completely demonstrates that one of Athens' most active citizens has been remarkable persuasive in spreading the message. These two discs are just a small sample of a label catalogue which has been growing quickly yet with deliberation. Still, they make for a perfect illustration of the company's dauntless diversity: Taking responsibility for the reckless Noise attacks of Novasak and Jeff Gburek's timbral sensuality, Pantelopoulos points at the underground's Achille's heel: dispersion into myriads of warring factions, competing camps, doubled tongues and exclusive vocabularies. Placed side-by-side, however, these albums reveal a remarkable similarity in their aims. At first, of course, the differences are more striking than the resemblances. "Alpha" is a mean beast of a record, a dense terrorscape of analogue frequency collisions, aggravated digital stabs and irritable sonic scar tissue. Novasak's Todd Novosad pitches one third of his sounds to dog's ear level, tunes one third down to a malignant rumble and sets the remaining portion on fire in a smouldering explosion. The press release speaks about "sonic events as cosmic occurrences in a meta-scientific context", but maybe it would be more correct to regard this as a music so driven and intense, that its physicality transcends into an electrifying beam of pure energy plugging straight into the brain's synapses and neurotransmitters. In any case, Novasak cares a lot for unchanneled release and little for remorseless noise for its own sake. There is a pronounced sense of dynamics in these drawn-out, almost epic structures. Space, too, is of seminal importance, with even harsh passages allowing for a certain headspace and empty matter waiting to be filled by the listener's imagination. In the 35 minutes of the album's core composition, "alpha part 2", the whispered moments of ominous swellings are possibly more effective than the volcanic eruptions when the boiling musical magma is actually catapulted from Novasak's belly. And yet, compared even to those stretches of tranquility, the opening semblances of "Red Rose for the Sinking Ship" make you feel as though someone had cranked the volume all the way down. While "alpha" is all surface, an environment actively pushing towards you, Gburek inversely draws you in with sounds that always appear very close and very far away at the same time. He also eschews remaining stuck in the same mood for all too long - each work is an intimate meditation on a particular idea, process or mood, mediating tangible revelations before moving on to something completely different in the next piece. The sonic palette is therefore impressively wide: A dance of bacteria on the first track, sharp and edgy textures and rhythmic scratchings on the second, warmly glistening chime-drones on the third. Later in the album, Gburek manages to lend a yearning finale to a piece of translucent, abrasive sheets of noise, concluding with a naive musicbox-loop. Many critics, possibly under the influence of the cover imagery, have mistaken the record to be a concrete depiction of Mao's life. In fact, as Gburek points out, it deals with the universality of longing for a better world. In his music, he follows this train of thought by peeling beauty off intimidation and by arriving at form from formlessness. The fact that the instrumentation seems to be different on each piece adds to the theme, suggesting that it's the vision rather than the tools that matters. This is what connects these two albums and all but a few of the releases on the Triple Bath roster: They are willing to go beyond the outward appearance of their sounds, craving for depth and searching for meaning in places where others hear nothing but noise or nothing at all. On to a third anniversary then - now the only thing left to do for the label is to release a piece of classical music!
Massimo Ricci | Begetellen | July 2008
A visionary ability in the assemblage of concrete and electronic sources can take you a long way, the constrictions of low budgets notwithstanding. Greek label Triple Bath, run by Themis Pantelopoulos, published only 96 copies of Red Rose for the Sinking Ship by Jeff Gburek, a 45-year old guitarist and composer who uses extended guitar techniques, signal processing, open source applications and field recordings to engender a unique electroacoustic brand. The man collaborates with Michael Vorfeld and Michael Walz in the ZYGOMA trio, has played with the likes of Keith Rowe, Tetuzi Akiyama, Kyle Bruckmann and - in 2006 - was a student of Helmut Lachenmann in Darmstadt. Recent releases appeared on A Question Of Re_Entry (the excellent Virtuous Circles), Con-V and on the Mattin website. Additional info about earlier works can be found via an attentive search through this very website. The album's title is impenetrably arcane, considering that "...Red is a kind of sympathetic individual who loves people" and that "rose" is pronounced as, and exchangeable with, "rows". In Gburek's words, "...the sinking ship will leave behind survivors, more appreciative of simple human care". The overall plot emphasizes "revolutionary nostalgia" and "the naivety of utopianism", as this five-part composition should be considered a sonic essay about the figure of Mao Zhedong. Quite sincerely, I couldn't think of a farther connection after having heard the music, dynamically variable and often very intense, the representation of a physiochemical complex rather than a reminder of revolution. Each setting is fairly incomparable, featuring a comprehensive gamut of protuberances and radiations - mildly synthetic to shortwave to ear-biting noise. The originator depicts his fantasies through processed carillons, modified guitars, birdsongs and - utterly baffling for this writer - tapings of ongoing activities at the main railway station in Milan, the incessant hubbub interspersed with computerized announcements of delayed arrivals and upcoming departures appearing like illusions in a haze of humming presences and altered ambiences. Beyond the studio treatment, there is substance in this music's backbone: Gburek is seriously endowed with architectural talent, allowing the single scenes to maintain a logic of "anomalous occurrence" while functioning coherently as a whole. Their consecutiveness is almost visible, the changes expected yet disconcerting, the listener embraced by a pale-skinned gratification throughout, until a softly unsettling finale (which will be left unrevealed). A work that grows with every listen, definitely recommended.
Martijn Busink | Musique Machine | June 2008
Guitarist Jeff Gburek says the title Red Rose for the Sinking Ship takes arcane essence. It's a sonic essay about Mao Zedong's leadership of the Chinese revolution. Instrumental as it is, these are things that has to be told to you because strictly from the sounds presented here, partly from guitars as well as various electro-acoustic constructions. Cryptic, both in title and sound. Even with an explanation that says: "Red is a kind of a sympathetic individual who loves people. In his own boat he sees the sinking ship. Isolated and lonely, he thinks-even on a sinking ship-he may find what he needs. The sinking ship will leave behind survivors, more appreciative of simple human care." Words that should add a spectral meaning to the equally spectral music. The cdr is packaged with a sheet with pictures as further suggestions. The first movement, for instance, has us floating around in a guitar wandering, quietly. Ticks and hisses are spatiously ordered but turn out to be a quiet before the storm. The second movement (or 'Threshold') is a lot less comfortable, as a fierce noise comes piercing through. In the following threshold guitar strings, a musical box and bubbling ticks takes into more open skies until ghostly voices in what seems a restaurant take us back into more inhabited spaces, even to what could be a field recordings from a train station. A mellow radiostatic follows in Threshold 4, calmly but steadily creating an atmosphere where subtle ambient chords mysteriously hover over the fluctuating static until less friendly feedback (or bowed metal) concludes the fourth part on a less comfortable note. A delicate musical box returns to search for what could be a (national?) anthem in the final threshold. The five parts of Red Rose for the Sinking Ship are varied and adventurous. Even though Gburek has laid out his view on what these sounds convey it's still very much up to the listener to create his own story and picture. Luckily, the sounds are pretty and interesting enough to make that an easy task. Score: 4/5
Brian Olewnick | Just Outside | March 2008
Jeff Gburek's "Virtuous Circles" is an early favorite of mine this year but his concurrent "Red Rose for the Sinking Ship" (Triple Bath) doesn't quite compare. Some nice sections (the third one, especially, with a subtle mix of street noise, obscure squeaks and faint chimes) but a bit rambling for my taste. It doesn't gain the traction I wanted to hear, maybe only because I liked his preceding one so much. Not bad at all, but I wants me more meat.
Nicolas Malevitsis | Multiple Prsonality Disorder | issue 24 | February 2008
translated from greek
Sunk in my thoughts, I had reached the hill of Saint John, climbed the small hill up in an almost ritual manner in order to enjoy the view to the sides of Mount Oiti and the strange forms and figures that take shape while that very moment, on my portable Discman (I remain rather old-school in certain things) I put "Red Rose for the Sinking Ship" by Jeff Gburek on -our- Triple Bath wrapped in a cover with Chinese paintings with their central theme being Mao (Zedong) and various aspects or what certain scenes in the everyday life in China of the "great leader" looked like... without essentially this meaning that the recording deals with this subject, although the allegory and the game between the title and the cover is brilliant in my opinion (which coincidentally happened at the same time as the publication of a translation of the book "Mao: The Unknown Story" by Jon Halliday and Jung Chang by Estia publications). His sound, falling from the "abstract" to more structured improvised drones and even passages of musique concrčte, drift you in a curious sound travel, that makes one of the best moments of Jeff, the little I know him and have watched his sonic steps. It would be a pity ignoring his work as much as the dark sonic forest of Triple Bath.
Frans de Waard | Vital Weekly | issue 604 | January 2008
Only a few weeks ago, in Vital Weekly 600, I reviewed 'Virtuous Circles' by Jeff Gburek on A Question Of Re-Entry, which I thought was a great work of field recordings, here he returns from his home in Berlin with another release on a Greek label and 'Red Rose For The Sinking Ship' 'informally constitutes a sonic essay about Mao Zedong's leadership of the Chinese Revolution, for fifty years until his death'. How that works exactly is not told, as Gburek loves a bit of mysticism. Triple Bath delivered some more notes about Gburek and we learn that he plays the guitar and self-constructed electronic environment to process the guitar playing. He has played with many improvisers from the field of electronic and improvised music area. This new work deals with the guitar and not with field recordings. Divided in five parts, this is however one piece. In the beginning the guitar sounds like a guitar, moving delicately through various forms of electronic processing, without losing the idea of a real guitar. It ends in the very last minute by sounding like a music box and in between it has taken many shapes: loud click noise music, soft sections and in much of that the guitar is not recognized as such. Not at all. It's again a pretty fascinating journey that he takes the listener on, moving through various textures, moods and atmospheres. Despite some of the harsher textures here and there more microsound than one would expect. A great release, again, one that will reveal some of its beauty only after a repeated playing.