Review: Fani Konstantinidou – Winter Trilogy / The Big Fall


The bellows collapse. There is an expulsion of air, but then so much more: a low drone that pools like water, with overtones that dance upon the surface as prism light. The thick, fermented aroma of several vanished years, of history and heritage, the scent like a matted stack of sepia photographs. The first of these two trilogies, titled Winter, was conceived when Fani Konstantinidou took a trip back to her family home and found an accordion there. Each piece is a sigh that releases the instrument from dormancy. Warmth returns to its folds and valves. A continuous drone wafts into the air, pushed gently into different shapes through a light-touch digital manipulation. Care is taken to ensure that the instrument never loses the essential musk of stagnant air and dust through which the accordion recounts its own history, as collected from the exhalations of nearby conversations or from open windows in summer, mingled with the sweet spores of untreated damp soaking into the instrument fabric. Occasionally the drones are cradled in a wind that rattles the surrounding walls, which is absorbed by the accordion as it stretches all around, like an old blanket that faithfully repels the cold. There is a meditative continuity at work throughout this first half, as Konstantinidou sinks ever deeper into the inferences rendered in the accordion’s hum until vibration becomes poetry, becomes memory, becomes identity.

I move into the second trilogy, The Big Fall, which is based on synthesiser experiments conducted in the Netherlands. It’s like stumbling out of a farmhouse and into a metropolis. Strands of electricity lash the stereo edges and fizz like neon signs. The warmth of the accordion’s exhale is replaced with the sharp sensation of touching a metal plate. No longer focused on one instrument, I find my awareness flickering between the criss-crossing stimuli, from a steely gleam in the background to anxious pulsations that rush the centre. It’s a startling contrast. Whereas harmonious overtones spill effortlessly from the accordion drone on Winter, the buzzing dissonances on The Big Fall resemble the affected and brittle coherence of bustling cities, where intuitive elegance drowns beneath the clamour of conflicting architectural intention. I sense myself jerking from a patient meditation on the past to the flashing hypnosis of our modern now. Within this meeting of disparate halves resides a wonderful remark on how environment is constantly informing our notion of time and selfhood; some places encouraging reflection on how we relate to our lineage, others collapsing all notions of identity into a cacophonous, reactive slither of present tense.