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Novi_sad, "Wound_Burner"

cover imageCompared to the multimedia project Sirens from last year, Thanasis Kaproulias’s latest work as Novi_sad is more of a return to his older style as far as composition goes. The single piece that makes up this album may be less concept-heavy, with the only information included being that is is based on environmental recordings in the US, Sweden, Brazil, and the Greek countryside. But even stripped back to just music, Wound_Burner excels in both its diversity and its sense of cohesion. Throughout the 45 minutes he mixes in digital interference, noisy found sounds, traditional electronics, and even voice (courtesy of Irini Kyriakidou in a swirling, yet structurally consistent and gripping album.

Sub Rosa

Leading off with near silence and echo-heavy field recordings, the piece is soon broken up with some heavy low end rumble and interrupting knocking noises that sound almost too lifelike.Far off traffic and sirens are made all the more sinister by the rumbling drone that surrounds them, using familiar sounds to disquieting effect.The sounds slowly drift off into silence before Kaproulias introduces a flat, almost vacuum like drone to the mix.It is intentionally monotonous, but is soon broken up by some jarring, violent explosive-like sounds that pummel through with a shocking intensity.

The mechanical, humming-like drone that follows is uncomfortably sparse and repetitive, because based on what preceded it, I was just waiting for another shocking outburst.Glitch fragments and found, rough sounds are peppered throughout, and kept me on edge for another harsh blast to occur.Even when it does not, the droning hum is amplified and becomes abrasive enough, but is soon paired with the voice of Kyriakidou, giving some semblance of humanity to the otherwise industrial disaster mood that preceded it.

This is a turning point for Wound_Burner, because the remainder of the composition is notably less menacing in comparison.Crackling, processed static like layers are blended with an almost conventional sounding passage of synthesizer.The sparse arrangement makes for a nice counterbalance to the chaos that preceded it, and even once some odd found sounds are added into the mix everything stays rather pleasant.The percussive rattling juxtaposes the hypnotic synth drone very well, making for a lovely, if somewhat odd pairing.

Atop the electronics, Kaproulias adds sloshing water and more vocals by Kyriakidou, filling out the mix nicely and taking the second half in a lighter, more inviting direction, even if the mix is dense and there is a significant amount of strange activity going on.Even some chirping birds are added in, seemingly leading the work into a peaceful, pastoral conclusion.Things do not stay as they seem though, and the sound drifts back into noisy territories more than a few times before ending on a slightly bleak, though not necessarily aggressive note.

There may not be a luxurious art book to accompany Wound_Burner, but the latest release from Thanasis Kaproulias stands perfectly on its own as a purely audio product.From its harsh, often jarring and occasionally terrifying first half to the more musical, placid second portion, I found the evolution and development of the work the album’s strongest asset.Never did I find anything predictable, and the strength of the record is not just its varied nature, but also Kaproulias’s expertise in shaping sounds, familiar and anything but.