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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

THANECO: Journey to Ithaca Vol.2 (2021)

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

A solid album where the vibes of TD and Vangelis go along for a fantastic journey

1 Dark Pelagos 8:03

2 Sirens 6:11

3 Skylla 7:49

4 Charyvdis 5:17

5 Cattle of Helios 8:24

6 The Wrath of Zeus 5:49

7 Alone in the Endless Sea 4:46

8 In Calypso's Captivity 9:07

9 The Land of the Phaeacians 8:02

10 Alcinous 5:42

11 Arrival – Conclusion 9:24

(CD-r/DDL 78:35) (V.F.)

(Berlin School, Ambient movie EM)

This is Thaneco's second part of Ulysses' journey on poems from Homer, and his Odyssey, and from Cavafy for the city of Ithaca. Following the routes of Journey to Ithaca (Vol. I), the Greek musician plays it safe by offering a fantastic journey to the heart of the fertile imaginations of those who see the music by listening to it. And as far as we know these two poems, the music reflects the emotion announced by the titles. A characteristic that shows all the talent of melodist and arranger of Thanos Oikonomopoulos. The music is more violent on JOURNEY TO ITHACA (Vol. 2) because of the poems' passages which are clearly more violent than on volume 1. I'm thinking of Skylla, Charyvdis, The Wrath of Zeus and In Calypso's Captivity among others. Thaneco trolls his audience from Berlin School's phases, mainly inspired by the Dream, to Vangelis-like dreamy tales along with segments that flirt with a more dynamic style like Electronica. The sequencers are ingenious while the keyboards and synths weave tender melodies and solos that pull out our eardrums from our ears. In short, as much as we liked Journey to Ithaca (Vol. I), the verdict will be the same for JOURNEY TO ITHACA (Vol. 2).

Intriguing, the opening of Dark Pelagos proposes a wave of woosshh and organic rattlesnakes, a bit like if we enter a cursed swamp. A nice introduction that leads us to a passage animated by a lively movement of the sequencer. A sinusoidal race with big steps and other less hungry ones where a sequence of dribbled jumping balls is added, adding a frenzied depth to this rhythm structure. The ambiences remain dark with layers of haze and ghostly voices, as well as semi-translucent filaments, increasing the prismatic texture of this very good Berlin School. The rhythm is sustained, apart from the hesitations that only increase its charms. We continue in the field of the sibylline charms of the album with Sirens and its synth laments humming like those mythical half-fish women. I would have thought to hear Martenot waves, but these chants are conceived from the Moog Sub37 which, according to Thanos, is the ideal way to structure an enigmatic ambience where the charm destitutes the reason to be afraid. A very nice atmospheric track! Skylla takes us again to a good Berlin School structure with a zigzagging rhythm under shot's effects from a video game. The rhythm is catchy with a good harmonic direction drawn by the keyboard. It hops around with slight imperfections and dribbling effects scattered about, like those keyboard riffs that add some velocity to it. The synth blows some good solos on this structure that ends in confusion two minutes before its finale. Skylla and Charyvdis are the two monsters that destroyed Odysseus' boat, hence the aggressiveness and the nebulous ambient phases in both titles. Charyvdis offers us a chaotic rhythmic structure with two series of sequenced arpeggios that clash in a harmonic-rhythmic duel. A line of well-rounded, juicy sequences mark out the territory with an aggressive rotary figure. There is rhythm per square inch in this track that ends with a beautiful moonlit ballad. A dull hum initiates this synth wave rolling like a ball in the opening of Cattle of Helios. The moods remain gloomy up until the tinkling of bells makes the tunes of a synth glow in this desolate area. At the end of the 3rd minute the synth and the sequencer lay down the beginnings of a melody whose tonality was borrowed from these tinklings of bells. The synth layers that cover it remind us Vangelis'. And when the melody reaches its maturity, it offers us a superb downtempo living of these melodious and spasmodic arpeggios before letting filter a very beautiful solo of synth. In short, a moment of an incredible tenderness!

I like when a music identifies itself to its title. And you can't say that Thanos Oikonomopoulos missed it with the aggressive rhythm in The Wrath of Zeus. Even the synth is aggressive with solos that defy the howling winds that accompany this procession of Zeus' wrath, which after a more moderate passage, fades out without warning. Alone in the Endless Sea is simply fascinating! A carousel of charming marbles bouncing and clinking like glass sets up a sequenced nursery rhyme movement. Electronic chirps add an organic touch to this rhythm sparkling like glass shards. A pulsing bass-line is added to this fairy-tale setting and sets off a rather ferocious march. The work of the sequencer and of the percussions on this track is simply delightful. And even more when a violin caresses this folkloric tumult with a veil of melancholy. There are tracks like this that we wish would last longer. A remarkable track! In Calypso's Captivity is a track that starts with a buzzing wave. A wave that moves with the step of a bass as gloomy as this synth air sounding like a depressed violin. Stars twinkle and other tones sparkle, bringing an ambient enthusiasm to this track that quietly develops with this synth that has become subtly very melodic. The sequencer comes out of the silence a little before the 4th minute. Its static flow initiates a sober march that fits very well to the synth quietly weaving acrobatic solos. One of Thaneco's great qualities is to surprise us, and while a big layer of Gregorian voices moves on with the firm intention to swallow everything, In Calypso's Captivity pushes itself then in a superb, and so unexpected, Electronica movement copiously sprinkled by some very good and creative synth solos. An excellent track that precedes the no less splendid The Land of the Phaeacians and its sweet crystal glass melody that tinkles and resonates in its opening. The moiré arpeggios float gracefully, imitating those bucolic dances of our ancestors, before turning into a melodious song of the synth that quietly settles the mellotron that absorbs its candor. And turn and turn this astral ritornello by accepting a new item of charm, a layer of ethereal voices. The sequencer pulls out a convoluted rhythmic line that swirls before sticking to a violent pulsing bass-line. A flute accompanies this rhythmic dynamic that welcomes a chthonian choir, signifying a drastic change of rhythm where electric piano chords dance reminding me of Ray Manzarek's work with The Doors. A track that requires patience and love! Just the opposite with Alcinous and its two rhythm lines that run and intertwine in another duel rhythm versus rhythmic melody. A movement in the Berlin School, more precisely the vintage years of Tangerine Dream, with a synth that unfolds its harmonious loops, accomplices of the mellotron and its nebulous hold on a track that seems to me too short.

Arrival - Conclusion ends this other solid album from the Greek musician with a cinematographic first part worthy of the great works of Vangelis. The piano is all beautiful and its melody intuitive. Emotional shivers dance through my body as the orchestrations take it to another level. There is just under 4 minutes left when the sequencer clears away the last of the fog by setting a dizzying pace that doesn't give a damn about the elastic rhythm impulses. It traces an insane race and runs out of steam when there are more than 90 seconds left on the counter. A time for the death-like ambiences that enveloped this delightful opening melody to remind us that life and death are a cycle that repeats itself over and over again. As quoted by the pen of Thanos Oikonomopoulos.

Sylvain Lupari (September 29th, 2021) ****¼*

Available on October 1st 2021 at SynGate Bandcamp

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