(Aural Terrains)

Early morning is my preferred time for scrutinizing records where the interactional movement of variable sonic streams — as lawless as it may appear — shines brightest in absence of human disturbance. Five Shards — the new chapter in the now solid history of Thanos Chrysakis’ Aural Terrains — is a studio recording from the end of 2019 that shows this precise nature of interplay, blending instrumentalists endowed with both independent vision and team spirit.

The balancing of the constituents is crucial to the ensemble’s electroacoustic workability. Chrysakis (laptop, synth and piano) is partnered by two members of The Remote Viewers (saxophonists Sue Lynch — also on flute — and Adrian Northover), trumpeter Dawid Frydryk and trombone player Edward Lucas. There would be plenty to envision a major strike against the constitutional order of commodified composition in favor of an articulate improvisational naturalness. In fact, as is often the case in such settings, a fluid compositional direction self-generates during the proceedings. Let’s never forget: those who know where to fish for the necessary sound in a given instant have within themselves developed structures of intuitive awareness that remain unachievable to most non-musicians (or to mediocre musicians, for that matter).

It is essential to experience each of the Shards in the right perspective. Highlighting, as the performers do throughout, the junctures of suspension between utter silence and the resurfacing of one or more signals. Valuing the suitability of a timbre even in contexts supposedly not appropriate for that instrument. Inhabiting the communal vibrancy that emerges from the unspoken. Freezing the audio image in a sort of mental snapshot, knowing full well that it serves absolutely no purpose, if not to delude ourselves into thinking that we have “understood” for a split second. It is however a pleasant illusion, which cleans the perceptive channels instead of contaminating them irremediably with futile verbiage.

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