I'm running out of adjectives and adverbs to adequately encompass Andreas Georgiou's blindingly brilliant work. Having run through the marvelous Jua Ni Juu, Asate, and Modus Vivendi, Vananda now makes its way to the fore and features not just the usual stellar sessioneers but also the Yeravan Symphonic Orchestra. Does this guy never stop topping himself?!?!
A strong side attraction here is Floros Floridas' spectacular but unfortunately brief sax work on two cuts, especially Constantia, a direct correlate to Paul McCandless' legendary prowess and, to my ears, infused with an outside edge not unlike Steve Lacy's (whom I strongly suspect McCandless also found inspiration in). Eberhart Weber's back, thank goodness, as his colorations are inimitably complementary to Georgiou's playing and composing, as is Savina Yiannatou with her gently vaulting wordless vocals. Pianist Kora Michaelian joins in on a pair of tracks to add a ghostly dimension in tonal / atonal tinklings and ornamentation.
Three cuts here harken back to Modus Vivendi, two duets with Weber and a solo from the bassist. Gathering sounds akin to Alex Skolnik and Stanley Clarke popping, pinging, and pizzicato'ing their nimble fingers off, then Georgiou switches to a highly abstract Ralph Towner mode and Weber keeps the burbling skittering bass pyrotechnics going. For over 15 minutes, they keep up an interplay that's terrifyingly agile and as beautifully chaotic as Picasso's Guernica until settling into a long tranquil mid-section that's a cornucopia of stylistic improv.
Lament, at the close of the disc, is another duet, this time arising from a spectral landscape eerily similar to some of Towner's Solstice work, a chiaroscuro of Penderecki-esque creepiness and poltergeists. The guitar sounds like a bass, and the bass becomes an unsettling creature far off in the dark. Somehow the two also manage to convert their axes (5-string electric bass, fretless electric guitar) to a shenai and tanpura! Don't ask me how. Bowing? I couldn't say but it's unreal, absolutely amazing. Once again, Georgiou is singlehandedly resurrecting the high period of ECM, and if that alone isn't reason to check into his work, then I'm completely stumped as to what it will take.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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