David Papapostolou – QuartetsJune 1, 2012
Compost and Height
Verrry tired tonight after a hellish day at work trying hard to avoid all mention of royalty but failing miserably. I badly need to just go and get some sleep, but have spent some time over recent days with another free download from the Compost and Height label and so will share some thoughts on it now.
In truth, its hard to know what to think / share about David Papapostolou’s Quartets. The download consists of sixteen pieces for sine waves and white noise of varying kinds. The shortest track here lasts just a fraction over two minutes and the longest a little over three and a half. So all of the pieces clock in at a similar, relatively brief length. In his notes accompanying the release, which you can read and download here, Papapostolou talks of Bach and Cage, and how he sought to replicate the depth of discovery sought by Bach with the intentional accidents of Cage. How this lead on to whatever processes were used to create this music I really am not sure, but what we end up with are sixteen quite sparse compositions that are made up of raw, visceral materials arranged in such a way that we are often surprised or shaken by how the tracks flow.
These pieces of music actually put the in mind of Cage’s Ryoanji drawings quite a bit, where he chose to draw around stones found in the Japanese zen garden, producing work of great beauty, mostly empty white paper sheets with simple vaguely circular forms drawn upon them, sometimes overlapping , sometimes not, their placement, and the form of each figure to some degree down to chance, though as it is hard to believe that the often very beautiful composition of those drawings was entirely down to chance, Papapostolou seems to have chosen his palette carefully, but then applied a degree of controlled chance technique to these sounds in some un-noted way to produce works that sound like lines drawn around pebbles, occasionally overwriting other lines round pebbles, causing compositional excitement when they do- the simplest of connections amplified by the fact that they are all there is to see / hear.
So it is hard to say how much of what we hear on this set of downloads is down to chance and how much isn’t. There is however a frail, and yet somehow quite explosive manner to the music. When sounds appear it is usually without much fanfare, but then on odd occasions a blast of noise will crash in unexpectedly loud, or perhaps exist so distantly quiet that as a listener you have to hold your breath so as to not interrupt them with the sound of exhalation. The way that various sounds combine (I don’t think there is ever more than two sounding events at the same time here) is also quite diverse, sometimes uneventfully obvious, but also often quite surprisingly aggressive. Sudden blips of really sharp sinetone might cut across a soft field of white noise, or two loud blasts of slightly differently pitched abstraction might collide mid-air with a small explosion before collapsing into two inaudible heaps. The music sounds composed to me, as if various parts have been placed where they are to maximise the surprise and energy of Bach, but the spectre of Cage always overrules this and leads you to think about how these sounds may have come together through chance procedures. The end result, however it was made, is a nice listen, very sparse, quiet and raw, music made from the barest of materials and yet impacting on you with the force of much more. Again, its a free download, so you can go and make your own mind up without having to pay too much heed to my opinion, but if it was up to me I would certainly recommend taking a close listen.