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Apostolis Anthimos - 2008 - "Miniatures"

(43:54, Metal Mind Records)


*****
                 

TRACK LIST:   

1.  Sunrise 3:49 
2.  Manhattan Circus 4:06 
3.  Circles 3:48 
4.  Pinnochio’s Son 2:15 
5.  Far Eastern Road 3:51 
6.  Squares 1:47 
7.  Midnight Walking 3:56 
8.  Ta-Ta 4:43 
9.  Triangles 2:19 
10. Oh I Can’t Stop 1:38 
11. Alpha 4:52 
12. Sunset 1:53 
13. Moussaka in Evening 4:55

LINEUP:

Apostolis Anthimos – guitars; keyboards; drums 
Robert Szewczuga – basses
With:
Krzysztof Dziedzic – drums

Prolusion. Apostolis ‘Lakis’ ANTHIMOS, a Polish songwriter and musician (Greece is his historical motherland), is familiar to many above all as a member of SBB, one of the most widely known prog rock acts to come out of Poland. However, he has also worked with some jazz-rock stars of the world’s first magnitude, such as guitarists John ‘Mahavishnu’ McLaughlin and Pat Metheny, drummer Paul Wertico and keyboardist Czeslaw Niemen, as well as some other cult artists. The press kit of this release says “Miniatures” is the third solo album by Anthimos, while to my knowledge there are four items in his solo discography to date, the other three being “Days We Can't Forget” (1994), “Theatro” (1999) and “Back to the North” (2006).

Analysis. The thirteen instrumental tracks here are all rather short, ranging from one- to four-and-a-half minutes, and I must tell you Apostolis has quite succeeded in crafting what is indicated in his latest recording’s title and which is the art of creating artistic miniatures in particular. One of the two pieces with a lot of keyboard patterns at their fore, Sunset, is a fine, airy composition involving only piano, synthesizer and guitar. Otherwise the music is never overtly soft/atmospheric nor is it distinctly intense/aggressive either, but is almost consistently ear-pleasing, combining some grooviness (at its bottom end, hence a slight hypnotic feeling) with plenty of subtle yet always refined details. Seven of the pieces, Manhattan Circus, Pinnochio’s Son, Midnight Walking, Ta-Ta, Alpha, Moussaka in Evening and Far Eastern Road, are uniform in terms of style, composition and structure all alike, even though the last of these deploys a drum machine instead of an acoustic drum kit. (The only such track here, it also doesn’t arouse any associations with what its title suggests.) On each of these we get a variety of melodic interplay between the guitar and bass, the music being reminiscent of Pat Metheny-style Jazz-Fusion with ‘elements’ of Allan Holdswoth, Paul Wertico and John Patituci. Although the latter connection is quite obscure, I believe those who are familiar with that artist’s work will agree with me that Robert Szewczuga’s approach to playing bass is often similar to John’s. One way or another, Lakis’ two guitar lines (one of which is certainly overdubbed) and the bassist’s ones create a fairly intricate ball, er, tangle of loose, slippery leads for which drummer Krzysztof Dziedzic provides what can be labeled as a background, whereas in fact his solos are as diverse and inspired as those by his partners and are delivered with enough (think: reasonably increased) power to make the compositions come across as being much more dynamic in nature than, well, they would have been otherwise. There are also quite a few of pleasing, mostly slow, yet always purposefully moving synthesizer passages on all these, though only the first-named one contains segments where keyboards or, to be more precise, pianos play a key role. This is my favorite track here and while most of the others are just a bit inferior to it, I slightly regret that Apostolis, who appears to be a true multi-instrumentalist on this outing and one showcasing more facets of his performance talent than ever before, hasn’t used keyboards, pianos in particular, as a lead voice in the arrangements more frequently than he did. Triangles and Oh I Can’t Stop weren’t listed among the previously described compositions only because neither features the instruments that the two preceding sentences are in many ways dedicated to. The only piece that reveals some distinctly heavy guitar riffs, Sunrise, reminds me a bit of a jazzier take on King Crimson circa “Thrak” and is noticeably different from its, say, SBB-version which is available on that band’s latest release “Iron Curtain”. As for the remaining two pieces, Circles and Squares, despite the fact that there is direct evidence of the musicians’ – excellent – command of their instruments, too, both have a strong experimental quality to them, as the random-like soloing that forms their contents and what we comprehend as melodic progression are mutually exclusive matters.

Conclusion. Although some comparisons have been made, it would be a fault not to mention that Anthimos has his own, original vision of style – or approach to it, if you will. Almost everywhere on the recording the man displays a wonderful flair for combining composed themes with inspired improvisations, the former always serving as a platform for the latter. If melodic Jazz-Fusion (and here we deal with quality melodic Jazz-Fusion) suits your tastes, this CD would probably be a must-have for you.

PS: Quite a lot of people emigrated from Greece to the USSR at the time of the Black Colonels’ dictatorial government in their fatherland. There is still a little Greek diaspora in my hometown, and one of a few of its representatives that I’m acquainted with shares most of my musical tastes. Since he should probably already be regarded as a Russianized Greek, I can’t be sure whether he is right, and yet when I said that Apostolis uses Lakis as his nickname, the answer was: “Really? Very strange, because this is the pet name of Vasilis”.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: June 2, 2009
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Metal Mind Records
Apostolis Anthimos


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