Review: Tasos Stamou – Koura

front_cover_smallTo drone can be an act of subservience. Sound takes the reins. The composer is reduced to a listener who occasionally intervenes, largely naïve to the outcome of their own interruptive input. Changes to the sound are not corrections in course, but opportunities to observe the sound in a different environment; to examine how a change in pitch triggers a quickening in the pace of pulsation, or how a slight increase in velocity causes the sound to press against the walls with greater fervour. For Koura, Tasos Stamou largely submits to the will of two different instruments for 20 minutes apiece: a zither on the first track, a chord organ on the second. The instruments are sculptures to be examined from all sides, and through drones that magnify every intricacy of timbre, Stamou and I come to know them intimately.

He utilises FX, although these are enhancive rather than transformative. The zither is stretched and subdivided into tassels of sustained microtones, bending away from eachother to form blurred exposures before realigning again. Over the top, Stamou introduces little droplets of plucked zither, descending like rain onto the rippling bed of drone, varying in pace and pitch like the crisp, unruly clang of gigantic church bells. On the chord organ piece, he lays tones upon eachother one by one, examining the impact of each new introduction like an artist mixing paint. The frequencies agitate eachother, flinching off pitch in protest at the encroachment of personal space, with overtones gleaming on the surface like anxious sweat. Stamou’s input is patient and deliberate. He persists with single actions until he exhausts the potential within them, before making slight adjustments that illuminate new means of comprehension. Like the subjects of echolocation, these instruments emerge in the overlap between different exposures, rendered vivid in the mind’s eye through a persistent, eternally evolving effort to understand.