The Approach by Costis Drygianakis

Costis Drygianakis | The Approach
Hxoi Kato Apo to Spiti (CD/DL)

I read the accompanying text simultaneously to listening through The Approach by Costis Drygianakis.  I can’t recommend experiencing this contemporary orchestra any other way.  Created from January 2018 through January 2019, now presented in a limited pressing of 300 copies. The two-track (each over a half hour) convoluted masterpiece includes a lengthy booklet in Greek and translated into English.  Drygianakis brings his own journal texts to life.  He is joined by Thanasis Chondros & Alexandra Katsiani reading from two essays and Thanos Kois reading from his novel.  More than twenty musicians perform on the album!  Everything from electronics to piano, guitar, horns and percussion to toy instruments, balloon, even a camera. 

The cover art shows, centrally, a group of women in colorful impressionistic style.  They are drying undergarments; perhaps over the side of boat.  A house is shown, recessed, while an angelic form clips just within the upper left frame.  A single die facing 1 dot up counterparts in the bottom right empty space.  My first thought is that the art captures a patient passage perhaps of refugees.  As I read and listen, I become uncertain as to the overall meaning of the transmission. Some plein air situation filled with tinkering seems to be the opening theme musically.  The text commences:

The world of the zoo is rich in internal communication and symbolism. It embodies contradictions, combining the cold logic of science with the liveliness of wild nature, the laxity and enjoyment of play with the rigidity of limits.’

As the words weave between a critical analysis of zoos, Thanos’ prose fiction, and Costis’ personal travel and dream reflections, the whining, whirring tones arhythmically surface and recess.  The head swims a bit.  In the nineteenth minute of part I, there is a distinct atmospheric shift.  The tone morphs into something much more mellow and subdued.  There is, after some five minutes, more intertwined chaotic elements which abruptly drop into a text reading over an electronic pulse.  The long-form established pacing unravels in the last six minutes of this first part.  The ‘channels’ change more rapidly.  Suspense builds.  

The Approach Pt II commences with an announcement of sorts – sad news and outrage.  By the time I return from my intermission cigarette, I have had a moment to begin to process the text.  Zoos are compared to art museums.  An encounter with law enforcement begets an isolated foreigner.  Dreams recalled from a journal mingle with fictional dreams being crushed.  Ultimately, the conflict has many meta interpretations.  I can’t quite achieve a resting moral but life in it’s beautiful details contrasted with control, authority, classification.  This is certainly through a tragedy.  The elements remain present, shrill only now slower, with more space, and full of lament.  For Greece and for those of international concern, the complicated abstractions form an altogether unforgettable deeply human narrative.  

The broad collection of contributing parts of The Approach merges towards intentional obscurity.  In the fuzzed borders between different geographical locations, different culture and societies, different peoples and perspectives even, questions emerge along with deep empathy.  However, the lines are all blurred so as to render a shadowy ‘out-of-place’ experience.  The jarring end of the text is countered with an appropriate musical fade.  Listeners must then wrestle with the amalgam of nuances herein presented – no easy endeavor for this serious work.  

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