Classic Kranky material here from Chistina Vantzou’s third record, for which she enlisted a 15-part micro-orchestra. Formerly involved with The Dead Texan, Vantzou here pulls those classical instruments (and several synths) through layer-upon-layer of processing, ending up with a smooth and shiny surface.
9/10 Robin Staff review, 15 October 2015
Muffled quietists Kranky have been having a banner year, delivering Steve Hauschildt’s new kosmische reality to our doorsteps, offering us fan fiction pitches like “what if Grouper made shoegaze?” and gracefully letting Benoit Pioulard do his thing. If you’re willing to believe it, they’re now dropping a new record by Dead Texan alum and visual artist Christina Vantzou, the third in her series of ambient solo records. Whatever you knew about her past musical trials, forget it: this album is a dementor. You’ll survive, but your soul won’t.
On ‘No. 2’, Vantzou organised her synth-programmed compositions for interpretation by a full orchestra, resulting in a pastoral, melodic record that often sounded dark, but with plenty of guidance. Its follow-up, this hour plus monolith, is sulking and morbid in comparison. Long, resilient drones are accompanied by little more than odd flourishes of orchestration, which cower in comparison to the huge open spaces they’ve been placed in. Vantzou’s synth is a monster: it swallows any instrumentation whole, residing over the record like an overwhelming stench. Vantzou couples her synth with processed vocals that hum like a cold wind.
This is gorgeous stuff, but made in sorrowful droning figures: where Vantzou almost seemed to be emerging as a serene neo-classical composer with her last record, here she creates emptying ambient music that leaves the listener feeling stilled and isolated. The ominous fog this record exists within makes it hard to tune out: hearing tracks like “The Library” for the first time is a fully terrifying experience, the violent bass grooves and violin plucks layered underneath weighty textures that make one feel trapped by nothing more than their own fear. I don't want to be alone, but acutally let me listen to this a few more minutes.
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