The two compositions that make up this album ("Everlasting Babylon of Your Mind" and "Discerning Eye of Mystics") are extracted from a vast body of work created during the Spring and Summer months of 2006. According to Pantelopoulos, the objective of this recording session was to see if he could "thrill himself" without the use of any melodic elements, at a time when he was seeking non-emotional or gnostic stimulation; sound itself was to be the sole, fundamental component. Revisited in 2009, the tracks were mixed and processed further, resulting in Nokalypse's most lavish electroacoustic work to date: toxic, metallic, alienated sound, far away from academic theories or political beliefs... (Allon Kaye, Entr'acte)
release date : June 26, 2009
label : Absurd (noise-below.org) / Entr'acte (entracte.co.uk)
catalog number : A78 / E73
format, quantity : 12" Vinyl LP, 250 copies
side A Everlasting Babylon of your Mind [19:18]
side B Discerning Eye of Mystics [19:05]
April - July 2006, February - March 2009
Allon Kaye, April 2009
10 EUR (including shipping costs)
free CDR copy of the album on every order
Ed Pinsent / The Sound Projector (thesoundprojector.com)
The Greek musician Themistoklis Pantelopoulos composed this over a three-year period and serves it up as two side-long suites of electronic music. He's been active for a decade, associated as a producer and technician for his Triple Bath label in his own country, and has produced various ambient and beatbox records either solo or as part of groups during that time. This release is atypical of his catalogue and marks a personal turning point for him, when in 2006 he consciously decided to abandon conventional melody and rhythm favour of something much more atonal. This followed on from a lengthy bout with the record player and a large collection of avant-garde electronic records from the 20th century, an experience which turned his head around. I'd hazard a guess that the recorded work of Iannis Xenakis was in that collection somewhere, as Pantelopoulos is making a strong bid here to push the envelope of electro-acoustic music, determined to arrive at some form of personal artistic satisfaction without the use of any melodic elements at all, and sternly declaring that "sound itself [is] to be the sole, fundamental component" of the work. He certainly hit the jackpot with 'Everlasting Babylon of your mind', the A side to this release which is a complex knot of horrible electronic sounds, which rotate and mutate inside an undefined framework and never resolve into anything remotely listenable or take shape in any way. Indeed as the piece progresses, or at any rate your needle moves closer to the centre of the LP, the complexity simply grows and becomes even more impenetrable, producing a thicket of aural thorns and barbs. Detuned synths, off-key notes, jangling shards, queasy drones and more are all bundled together into this atonal ball of disease-ridden nastiness. Lacking the structural capability of Xenakis, this has plenty of complex events and layers, but Pantelopoulos doesn't have a clear idea of how he's going to organize all that complexity, other than just allowing this small army of carnivorous insects to march where they will over the bumpy terrain. A tough listen. The B side 'Discerning Eye of Mystics' is slightly more conventional science-fiction dark ambient droning; in some ways it's characteristic of the "house style" of Triple Bath. There are faint mechanical clanks in the background adding a tone of menace. With its clusters of dark continuous sound, this side is more in the vein of Dumitrescu's music, and indeed is rather akin to moments of Pierres Sacr?es in the way it makes identical use of heart-stopping crashes of metallic noise to punctuate the droning stillness. I found this a shade more listenable than the flip, but its overall vagueness and lack of ideas made me want to revisit the horrors of the A side again. Which is a bit like preferring a bout of indigestion to eating another bowl of porridge. The quasimetaphysical titles don't help either, giving me as much mental indigestion as the music itself, but there's no denying the seriousness of this man's intentions and the patience he has expended in realizing them.
Keith Moliné / The Wire (thewire.co.uk)
Themistoklis Pantelopoulos insists that this work is an attempt to dispense with melody and instead focus solely on sound itself, in the manner of the electroacoustic music that has become his main inspiration. Nevertheless, his roots in less academic forms like Industrial and Ambient are immediately apparent - this is primarily a sensuous rather than an intellectual experience, comprising dense organ tones pitch-shifted until they acquire a ringing, metallic edge. In the end, contrary to what Nokalypse might hope, the material here is all about melody, and on that basis the album is a qualified success. "Everlasting Babylon of your Mind", the more energized of the two pieces, is a relentless swarm of steely dissonances that impresses at First but starts to grate by the mid-point as the obvious lack of any real purpose becomes apparent. "Discerning Eye of Mystics" is better for proceeding more cautiously, allowing its chiming resonances to linger.
Dan Warburton / Paris Transatlantic (paristransatlantic.com)
Athens-based composer Themistoklis Pantelopoulos aka Nokalypse spent the summer of 2006 trying to "thrill himself without the use of any melodic elements, at a time when he was seeking non-emotional or gnostic stimulation" (right on!), creating a "vast body" of music which he revisited earlier this year, indulging in some heavy treatment and post-prod and ending up with what Brian Olewnick described rather nicely over at his Just Outside blog as a "messy lasagna" (though moussaka might be more appropriate, I think). The first of the two side-long tracks, "Everlasting Babylon Of Your Mind", is somewhere between Daniel Teruggi's glistening glitzy remix of Xenakis's Persepolis on that infamous and dreadful album that appeared on Asphodel a while back and one of Jean-Luc Guionnet's organ albums, a queasy stew of clusters and whirling glissandi. Side two's "Discerning Eye Of Mystics" is more tonally stable, sounding like a Mecha/Orga drone left out in the rain to rust. Impressively crafted stuff, but a little heavy on the special effects nutmeg and béchamel. Have a glass of ice cold water and an Alka Seltzer (or a Howie Stelzer) standing by.
Brian Olewnick / Just Outside (olewnick.blogspot.com)
Themistoklis Pantelopoulos adopting a somewhat annoying nom. Hopefully it's not only his Hellenic derivation, but the comparison in a surface sense to Xenakis is hard to pass up. The Xenakis of "Kraanerg" and "Persepolis", at least as evidenced here. The piece is a huge mass of swirling sounds, kind of organ-like in essential nature but I get the feeling they're often synthesized mutations from a large variety of sources, some of which might be natural. They're layered one atop the other, several dozen ply thick it seems, into a huge, messy lasagna of sound. It's not bad at all, actually, if (not surprisingly) lacking Xenakis' structural rigor and having, somewhere beneath it all, a rockish tinge (no rhythms, just a kind of guitar-chordy sound). Not bad, easily the best of the three LP releases (Jacques Beloeil - "Bidules 1-9", Ian Middleton - "Time Building") here.
Ed Pinsent / The Sound Projector (thesoundprojector.com)
Nokalypse's rather ghastly record is jarring electronic dischords which drone on endlessly, perhaps in an attempt to recreate the sensations induced by lines of futile and pointless thinking; I deduce that much from the title "Repeated in an Indefinitely Alternating Series of Thoughts" (E73), which is like a mini-essay on psychology. Jointly released by Absurd Music in Greece as A78, this unsettling work was realised by the musician Themistoklis Pantelopoulos.
Frans de Waard / Vital Weekly (vitalweekly.net)
Only a few weeks ago I reviewed a CDR by Nokalypse, the musical project of Themistoklis Pantelopoulos, who also runs the Triple Bath label. Here he has two pieces which he recorded in 2006 already but that are now revised for the release on this LP, a joint venture between UK's Entr'acte and Greek Absurd branch. Nokalypse plays music using software, AudioMulch and WaveLab are two of his favorite toys. With that he creates drone music but it's not the usual kind of drone music. At times it sounds like music that is somehow, somewhere slightly academic in approach, but throughout one listen it isn't. Besides the official academic composers of the sixties, there were also the outsiders, who released music on vinyl. Highly obscure material, and when I was listening to Nokalypse I was reminded of that. His compositions aren't very tight, but rather loosely structured, with repeating blocks that return every now and then, sounds fading in and out. Things are pitched up and down the scale and develop over the course of the side of a record. A bit PBK like, Conrad Schnitzler is never far away as an influence, and it makes two lovely pieces of music. Somewhere between academic and non academic, ambient and industrial, this is a great one.