How absurd, having a jewel in the house and sleeping for so long before understanding its value. Antichamber is one of those precious objects: a 2-CD digipack containing 150 minutes of music by Cypriot composer Yannis Kyriakides, co-boss of the Unsounds imprint. The total duration may appear too much to digest in a single helping, but it’s not; on the contrary, every time I set myself comfortable with these glorious materials the need of interrupting the experience for the chores of daily life brings a sense of discontent. Such is the level of mesmeric immersion and complete absorption that many pieces contained herein allow a responsive subject to reach.
Kyriakides is an inquisitively refined individual, whose interests seem to hover across a fairly wide range of philosophers, travels and influences. Several of them comprise the grounds upon which these works were developed, yet there’s not an instant of snooty sophistry in sight. The composer’s talent shines as he mixes sources of contrasting essence to yield quality results in direct proportion to an acoustic appearance that, in various instances, is downright stirring. I’m thinking in particular of “As They Step Into The Same Rivers” (for viola, double bass and shuffling iPod), and to the very last track “Atopia (Hyperamplified)”, where a gossamer accretion of alto flute, viola, vibraphone and computer whispers superimposed tones, subsequently enhanced by the amplification. This must be one of the most heartrending “wavering drone” examples ever heard by this reviewer: the kind of silently painful contrapuntal dimension that transforms a slumberous afternoon into a concatenation of resigned reminiscences imbued with “had-I-done-differently” grief. Instead it was born from Kyriakides’ orchestral rendering of the faraway humming of wind and traffic of a Cairo street, of all things.
Ghosts of Louis Andriessen (“Chaoids”), Daniel Lentz (“U”) and even David Behrman (“Dog Song”) can be hypothesized if the imagination is left free to wander. Ethnic constituents are also crucial in at least two episodes (“Zeimbekiko 1918” and “PNEuma”), while the the piano quintet “hYDAtorizon” should definitely appeal to audiences appreciative of Gloria Coates’ work. This notwithstanding, Kyriakides’ identity emerges quite incontrovertibly, primarily epitomized by the graceful straight-and-curve figurations of which large parts of these outstanding scores are full of.