Hail Hydra

Last noted Dimitris Papadatos in a March 2015 post where he was appearing as one half of Virilio. Now he’s here again as The Hydra, a solo venture which he juggles alongside his other solo alias KU. The cassette On Troubleshooting (RECORD LABEL RECORD LABEL RLRLC002) has one side called ‘Give Me Another Universe’, and it’s a fairly bonkers onslaught that makes extensive use of repeat / loop actions, either through excessive digital delay pedalling, or switching the synth auto-trigger on. Or both. We read that this one was constructed from sound samples (including an extensive record collection, apparently), but the modular synth still continues to dominate the sonic soup kitchen like a cruel master chef with a grating voice. The completely abstract and inhuman outpourings pass on a strange and unreal experience, much like being covered with a sort of bland, flavourless, brown ice cream that’s been left out of the freezer too long. So far this Hydra is living up to its name as a beast of many heads…

The flip called ‘The Metaphysical Animal’ is no less portentous, even if the ice cream here was originally another flavour. It’s another slow-moving drone monster of treated modular synth sounds, comprised of many layers which swim against each other like langourous sea beasts in a sluggish ocean. Rather cold and inhuman, but the swelling rhythms do exert a certain physical pull. He was apparently trying to build “a frozen crust, still and unmoved, while below it a rapid movement takes place.” Out of context, that could be read as an editorial from the pages of National Geographic magazine when they’re covering dormant volcanoes in Fiji. Dimitris is keen (in the press notes) at any rate) to point out the mechanics of the production of his music, a process which involves use of field recordings and plunderphonics as well as the moaning synths.

Despite all the very specific and named sources used for creating this music (including jazz, a muezzin recording, a sound effects record), On Troubleshooting remains resolutely abstract and featureless, largely due to the creator’s tendency to processing, thus blurring all separate identities into a morass of drone. At least when Philip Jeck played old records, he allowed some recognisable elements to appear, acting as signposts for the listener. Coversely, The Hydra plunges the listener instantly into an unknown world, and keeps us there. From 02 December 2014.


From same label, the tape Dual Processing (RECORD LABEL RECORD LABEL RLRLC001) features the reductionist tuba player Robin Hayward (also in Phosphor) and percussionist Morten J. Olsen from Stavanger, performing here as Subroutine. They are quite pleased with the way that all their sounds are acoustic in origin, yet the results are oddly reminiscent of sound produced by electronic or digital means. Admittedly, the recordings are layered and mixed, but the process that’s relevant is the real-time acoustical interaction that each instrument (microtonal tube and bass drum) is having on the other. Real-time non-digital remixing of some sort. I dig this, but they do it at such a tedious pace that the work feels precious, and ultimately rather boring in its non-eventfulness.