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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Stephanos Chytiris/Nikolas Skordas – Invisible War (Slam Productions, 2020) ****

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

Listening to Invisible War repeatedly I never stopped wondering about the title. It’s one of those small things that tend to get stuck in my head. Does the title imply the inner wars that any artist, any human being has to deal? Is it, maybe, a reference to our current dystopia, the eschatological feelings inside many of if us?

The pairing of two Greeks, Skordas on soprano and tenor sax, flute and tarogato with Chytiris on drums, came out on July even though it was recorded in 2018-19 in Thessaloniki. Bad period to launch a cd for sure, but many people out there still struggle. I’m not sure if the two have played together before, but Invisible War makes it really clear that their interaction is on the highest level. Having caught Chytiris live, I’m pretty sure that his flexibility as a drummer played a big part on this.

Invisible War consists of seven tracks where the coltraneish dynamics of their duo are mapped by Skordas’ buoyancy on the wind instruments and Chytiris instant ability to adapt. One of the most significant values of the duo is the ability of the two artists to interact, to play on the same level, on the same time and space. Skordas and Chytiris manage to incorporate all this into their playing. It has nothing to with speaking the same language but, more importantly, with communicating in this non verbal language we call music and being open.

Openness has always been a key element in Free Jazz and one that differentiates this (let’s call it) genre from structured musics. Even though Skordas rapidly moves from another wind instrument to another, there’s this basic feeling of togetherness. I could also trace fragments of Greek and Eastern Europe traditional melodies. Sometimes I caught myself wishing that I could get more of that-tradition for most Greeks is always a do not touch affair.

The ritualistic aspect of this recording is something that goes across all the tracks and makes my Balkan roots feel at ease. But, mind you, not in a way that’s soothing for the listener. It is an adventurous feeling of displacement. Of a music belonging to a certain place but travelling everywhere at the same time. A spiritual journey to say the least.



Richard said...

This doesn't seem to be on bandcamp, but I found another album involving Stephanos which sounds good on first listen:


A review is coming up for the Tragelaphus trio...

Richard said...

I'm glad you're covering the Greek scene so well, Fotis. I'm really enjoying the Anastasios Savvopoulos album, especially.