Review: Yiorgis Sakellariou – Nympholepsy


The voice of Savina Yannatou babbles and subdivides, spreading rapidly from the centre to the edges, becoming a palpitating flock of sharp inhales and tumbling tongues. One definition of nympholepsy is “divine frenzy”, used by the ancient Greeks describe the state triggered when someone is possessed by the nymphs. With Yannatou’s voice as source material, Yiorgis Sakellariou enacts this condition of rapture: spasms of incantatory speech, words fracturing into illusory reflections and responses, the breathlessness of a body under supernatural siege. Yet it also depicts the blur of myth, ancient history and the divine through which this condition is manifest. As Yannatou’s vocalisations melt from shapely syllables to the howls of open vowels, I hear a smudging of the boundaries between forms and worlds. Just as the state of nympholepsy incites the muddling of bodily autonomy and divine influence, so history becomes a portal to the inseparable whirl of fact and fantastical conjecture.

Aptly, the narrative of Nympholepsy is akin to the unfolding of distant memory. Spaces melt into eachother as walls curve round to become floors. Voices arc like rainbows and then fall to become fogs. Some of the field recordings woven into the composition (the scrape of rusted metal, the rustle of dry leaves) are rendered in sparkling fidelity, while others feel vague and phantom-like, their particulars spilled somewhen upon the cobbled pathway of time. At certain points, transitions are rendered like spectacular cinematographic edits, like when a chorus of hydraulic water jets suddenly vanish into the crackle of a dying fire. Yannatou slinks in and out of the frame throughout, sometimes condensed into human form, elsewhere dispersed like crepuscular dawnlight. Throughout, Nympholepsy manifests as a demonstration of Sakellariou’s magnificent and cruel capacity to build spaces that are rich enough to feel inhabitable, only to augment and obliterate them in a manner that casts doubt on all material solidity.