archiv: sigmatropic

SIGMATROPIC
SIXTEEN HAIKU AND OTHER STORIES
(Tongue Master)
If you’re looking for something a little tender in which to lose yourself in for the best part of an hour or so, then I couldn’t recommend enough this timid little beauty, I could chirp until the cows came home at how spellbinding this particular release is, softly twisting lounge like threads, native folk arrangements, trip hop textures, ambient electronics and tribal beats alongside blissed out improv workouts, yet there is a story attached to this beguiling release which adds a whole sense of charmed mystique to the mix.
Centred around the nucleus of Greek based Sigmatropic’s melodic threads, this album has been taken on as something of an International project. Original devised as a score to wrap around the poetry of Nobel Laureate George Seferis, the basis of the idea was to centre on his early written work which had been conceived in the haiku style derived from the Japanese art of chopping up poetry, it encompasses his short observations of life in the Aegean, set alongside the musical score a colourful tapestry of life begins to spring forth. But that wasn’t the end of the matter, by translating Seferis’ words into English, Akis Boyatkis, the principle player in Sigmatropic, wanted to develop the project further in enlisting a plethora of guest vocals to make this a truly international adventure. Hence the reason why you find the likes of Robert Wyatt, Laetitia Sadier, Lee Ronaldo, Simon Joyner and fourteen other invitees all together on one album.
Concentrating on the music side of things, this really is a compelling body of work, each of the tracks lock into each other to create a wide screened symphony, each can be listened to as stand alone but brought together are invested with a sum far greater than its parts, though that’s not to say that they are cut from the same cast as each memorably weaves it’s own unique imprint. In the main it’s all about creating moods, delicate soundscapes that, and here’s the beauty of this, match guest artists to styles of music that you’d never imagine them to be associated with in particular the opening cut featuring Robert Wyatt, the glacial sounds adorned with subtle trip hop beats encouraging Wyatt’s usually impeccable frail vocal to stretch like you’ve never heard it before, then the added novelty of hearing Laetitia Sadiers vocals transported from the warm confines of space lounge Francophile pop to do battle against the elements of the cavernous ‘Felt Mountain’ like dynamics on ‘Haiku 1’ while elsewhere Mark Eitzel is supported by stately Orbital like backdrops on ‘Haiku 10’. ‘Haiku 3’ features the vocals of Mark Mulcahy, the former Miracle Legioner twists alluringly against the backdrop of warming Ry Cooder like grandeur, Texas based Nuns mainman Alejandro Escovedo is also found wandering unfamiliar paths as he navigates dreamily against an abandoned flurry of detached ambient mood spills. One of the collections best moments is the rather jiggling sensuality of ‘Haiku Five’, which sees the vocals of the Walkabouts’ Carla Torgerson softly sizzling away to a fluffy space like thread that would probably be more familiar to Laetitia Sadier. Then there’s the soothing ornamental frosted lullaby’s of the graceful ‘Haiku Seven’ to contend with, bracing stuff as it flinches with a demeanour more associated with a Spaghetti western but tripped with an intergalactic vibe. ‘Haiku Eight’ has the same neutered elegance of Kate Bush’s ‘Army Dreamers’ featuring Edith Frost who apparently stretched her vocal to enough tracks to be considered for an album in its own right.
‘Haiku Twelve’ finds the first of Lee Ronaldo’s contributions caught in atmospheric territories sounding like Stewart Copeland, capped with magnificently sombre washes of electronics while underneath a stalking guitar riff burrows away. John Grant really does has a sound of Ian McCulloch on ‘Haiku 14(b)’ but maybe that has more to do with the icy glaze of the Bunnymen-ish melodies that chill in the background sounding like a cross between the ethereal ‘In bluer skies’ from ‘Porcupine’ and the Lost Boys era ‘Lips’ phase. ‘Haiku 16’ cavorts with the ladened elegiac sounds of latter day Flying Saucer Attack fencing with a perkier Roy Montgomery and which bleeds teasingly into the tasty exotic folly of ‘Dead Sea’ itself falling lovingly into the tender vocals of Pinkie Maclure on the heart aching cinematic sheen of ‘Water Warm. With ’16 Haiku and other Stories’ Sigmatropic have created a wonderfully sublime journey through life as seen by another, a thoroughly enthralling and engaging trip which is thoroughly recommended you should take sooner rather than later.

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