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Tasos Stamou | seven synth drone studies
TRB.033 | 2012/01/27 | CDR

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total duration  52:29

instrumentation: Tasos Stamou, analog modular synthesizer system

recordings: during 2010, at kukuruku studio, Athens

mastering by Themistoklis Pantelopoulos, January 2012

graphic by Tasos Stamou, October 2011


    Massive sheets of metal wobbling and rubbing against each other in some distant galaxy. Derek Rogers's "Aluminum Mirrors" adapted for the 25th century. Tangerine Dream's "Zeit" with the cello flung out the window. John Elliott's "Outer Space" emissions doing the tango with Pulse Emitter's "Meditative Music" series. The latest album from Greek sound artist Tasos Stamou, entitled "Seven Synth Drone Studies", is exactly what it says on the tin. But there's a rigid adherence to some seeming ascetic ideal here that some might dismiss as austere or academic, and the thing about these criticisms is that they're true; this is indeed an academic and austere set of electronic exercises. But that needn't make it a soulless snoozefest. Ryoji Ikeda's "20' To 2000.March: Variations For Modulated 440hz Sinewaves" comes to mind; that 1999 release consists of 99 12-second sine wave modulations. Stamou more than doubles this length, and as a result his drones seem stretched to breaking point, sounding especially taut at certain moments (the last 40 seconds or so of "Study 2," for example). But whereas Ikeda chose to zoom in on a single modulation, Stamou crafts an equal intimacy with a broader scope, toying with his uninterrupted panoramic frequencies in slow undulations.
    Most impressively, these pieces at first seem hopelessly abstract but upon repeated listens coagulate into surprisingly recognizable forms. As it turns out, these are actual songs; they have climaxes, mood shifts, and while I wouldn't go so far as to ascribe a narrative onto its content (these are simply "studies" after all), I can confidently believe that they've been thoroughly crafted with the inquisitive precision of a mad horologist. The results of Stamou's experiments are subtle, glacial creatures, breathing deep and patiently-hardly the languorous "coffee table book on the sustain pedal" schlock I'll admit I was expecting. A pleasant surprise-Eleh fans in the mood for a little less minimalism in their synthy drones, take note!

    Tasos Stamou has had a bunch of releases before, but it's hard to see a line in what he does, so I guess that's good. You never know what to expect, but unfortunately that is usually not bringing in a lot of fans: people want to know what they are getting. The title of his release may give away a bit of what's coming: seven synth drone studies and Stamou takes credit for analog modular synthesizer system. In these seven pieces/studies he does exactly that. Play drone like synth pieces, which are quite atmospheric, although not always 'quiet', if you get my drift. There is an interesting nasty undercurrent in these pieces which make this a bit more than your average synth/drone record. Quite something different again from Stamou and although not a surprise as such, this is quite a nice release indeed.