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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

THANECO: Journey to Ithaca (Vol. I) (2020)

The music on this album is reproduced with an accuracy that is equivalent to the many twists and turns in this intrepid adventure of Ulysses

1 The Journey Began 9:26

2 Ismaros 6:29

3 The Lotus Eaters 6:22

4 Cyclopes 8:15

5 Aeolia 10:06

6 Telepylos 8:08

7 Circes Island 9:24

8 Underworld 7:22

9 The Long Way to Ithaca 6:48

(CD-R (HQ)/DDL 72:18) (V.F.)

(Progressive Berlin School)

This love thing occurs around Cyclopes and Aeolia. Previously Thanasis Oikonomopoulos weaves the webs of his musical trap that is JOURNEY TO ITHACA (Vol. I). For the record, Thaneco took my ears by storm with the astonishing The Cretan Tapes, a melodious album inspired by the musical writing of Johannes Schmoelling. His second solo album on SynGate is different. Quite different even! Available in download and CD-R HQ format, JOURNEY TO ITHACA (Vol. I) is a concept album that revolves around Ulysses' legendary journey to the island of Ithaca. Such a subject requires a high level of creativity which brings us to the stories and poems of Homer. The music on this album is reproduced with an accuracy that is equivalent to the many twists and turns in this intrepid adventure of the King of Ithaca. Each title presented by the Greek musician is designed in progressive steps, even going up to 5 levels of mutation in a title. The music is great. Transiting between ethereal atmospheres, cosmic rock, Berlin School, progressive and even psychedelic rock as well as phases of Electronica, JOURNEY TO ITHACA (Vol. I) is a musical adventure as difficult as the journey of Ulysses. But in the end, the enchantment is there ...

The Journey Began begins with astral winds blowing on the surf of waves propelled by Ulysses' boat. Unreal, these winds have a multi-sonorous hue which hides a choir and which weighs down this decor of lyrical ambiences from which emerge these fluty chants which thrown airs of Cavafy's epic poem; Ithaca. This opening of ambiences and of bewitchment prevails for the first 3 minutes which draw us into an intense cinematographic phase. The point of mutation of The Journey Began seems painful with the apocalyptic synth harmonies perfumed with the essences of Tangerine Dream and Vangelis. Fragrances that emerge here and there in the 72 minutes of JOURNEY TO ITHACA (Vol. I). The sequencer comes in then with a stable movement. Thaneco takes care to make some of his jumping keys dribble in a hesitant structure, like a cat which puts forward its paw to immediately take it back. This electronic cha-cha-cha favors an activity at the level of the synths that launch good solos flirting with the mythical 70's. Synthesizers and guitars, with a psychedelic vision, weave a vibe of electronic progressive rock with these solos that turn into benches of cerulean mists. The percussions adjust to the heavy rhythm hopping awkwardly with percussive knocking which is followed by a delicious and too short electronic ballad. Thus, are burned the first 9 minutes of this last album of Thaneco. The Greek musician takes care to flesh out each of his titles by letting them advance with a new element, in order to embellish and enrich each title with a progressive minimalist vision. Ismaros takes us by surprise with a lively dance of its arpeggios which tinkle with an Asian essence. Or Greek Islands' with a xylophone manipulated by an octopus that some dense veils of orchestrations are trying to envelope without however containing its rage for rhythm. If the violins have become laments in the form of solos, a bass line adds a degree of accentuated gradation to this ethnic rhythm while another load of manual percussions increases its frenzy. A line of flute emerges. Its brief passage and chant awaken the sequencer which adds another layer of rhythm to a track that constantly adjusts to each new rhythmic element proposed by its creator. These first two tracks are the kind that we always like a little more with each new listening. Frosted arpeggios dancing a glass ritornello, The Lotus Eaters is immediately struck by a slightly hungry bassline sequences. Another line of rhythm frayed by a nervous approach condemns this however beautiful melody to remain incognito, the time that layers of Elvish voices don't try to change the oneiric dimension of the title. Organic psybient effects add a cacophonous touch to a melody which was nevertheless well started.

It's Cyclops time!

The opening is rather cosmic with elastic burbs stretching their effects in a mass of wiishh which make also peal multiple bursts of tonal lights. This hubbub of the god Aeolus brings us to a riverbank where a keyboardist, dressed in Vangelis' clothes, spreads step by step the chords of his electric piano in a beautiful ethereal romance where the river waves come to caress our ankles. The rhythm starts before the 4th minute. Hopping with a tortured spring effect, it's besieged by arpeggios as melodious as rhythmic, structuring these awkwardly evolving electronic cha-cha-cha. At first glance harmless, Cyclopes increases its musical mass by injecting orchestrations and evanescent lines of rhythms until it embraces a progressive philharmonic vision which restructures the approach of JOURNEY TO ITHACA (Vol. I). Aeolia's introduction is topped with prism-filled winds and Blue-like guitar chords. The fusion gives a good, dreamy Astral Blues which gradually moves towards the ascending rhythm of a sequencer in Berlin School mode. The rhythm is heavy and swirls with a destabilizing effect. The synth / guitar combination gives solos with a cold in the tone. In tone rather precise for an Astral Blues with a cosmic twist in the wing. Then comes the superb tribal rhythm of Telepylos. The first part is a kind of Funk with a line of reverberating sequences which dance with arpeggios and their computer wahwah dialogue. This cybernetic dialogue progresses, but not at the same tune of the beat which turns into a good cosmic rock attracted by a vision of dance-music à la Vanderson. Ulysses is camping in an avian garden under the stars which fly and whistle at the same time as a tribal rhythm insidiously sets in. Cinematographic layers cast an aura of mystery and bewitchment, especially with the appearance of this semi-human flute that bewitches the senses. A little less than 5 minutes after its opening, Circes Island therefore becomes surrounded by an avalanche of samples of ethnic percussions which plow a lively rhythm before plunging into pure Electronica à la Moonbooter. Feet weighed down by the resonances of the dance floor, Underworld comes to us with its ascending Berlin School model. If at first the approach seemed acoustic, it has become much more furious, even if the chants of the synth expel these strange harmonies with the essences of Tangerine Dream and Vangelis. The percussions restructure the rhythm in an approach that has become spasmodic with a dribbling effect in the bounces of the jumping keys. This structure of rhythm nervous and nicely clubbed by various percussions is eventually becoming arrhythmic. But throughout its development, Underworld welcomes particularly good synth solos with the same completely captivating essences. The Long Way to Ithaca ends this good Thaneco album with a nice melodious vision, we are almost talking about New Age here, whose Mediterranean essences blow us a final here, as well as an opening on the second volume of JOURNEY TO ITHACA.

Sylvain Lupari (18/09/20) *****

Available at SynGate Bandcamp

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