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TRACK LIST: 1. Pushing the Sky 6:16 2. The Great Outdoors 5:43 3. Entry Wound 2:58 4. Subconscious 4:36 5. You've Met Someone 5:01 6. Better Halves 6:22 7. Hinder 7:04 8. Open Wound 6:37 9. The Glacier 2:16 10. Our Time Expires 5:24 11. September 2:04 12. Exit Wound 10:08 13. Say Goodnight 7:51 LINEUP: Spyros Charmanis – guitars, bass; vocals, keyboards; oboe With: Nikolas Sideris – piano; programming Theodore Papadimitriou – cello Nikodemos Triardis – cello Melina Kyritsi – vocals Sofia Nassiou – vocals Katerina Charmanis – accordion Dimitris Tsoukas – darbuka, davul, bendir, udu
Prolusion. Greek composer and musician Spyros CHARMANIS started composing his own material back in 2007, and three years later he self released his debut album "Just Another Story". Charmanis is among the artists who regards the album as a form of art in its own right, which guided his approach in the creation of his debut album. "Wound" from 2012 is Charmanis’ second full-length production, created with the same philosophy at heart and self-released just like his first album.
Analysis. The material of Spyros Charmanis is of the kind that doesn't rely too heavily on the old-time progressive rock pioneers and giants as likely sources of inspiration. He's a young guy, still in his twenties, and while he creates material that in structure and arrangement fits well within the overall scope and complexity of progressive rock as such, he doesn't exactly replicate any specific sound, style or artist that I'm aware of. As far as possible inspirations go, I'd toss in Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Lou Reed and Soundgarden as some possibilities in this particular case. How much or not this is correct or traceable is another matter entirely, as these are highly subjective associations more than anything else. I'll also add that I wouldn't find it at all surprising if Charmanis had a certain affection for an artist or three with a singer/songwriter background or stylistic expression. What this all adds up to is an album with a surprisingly mature and well developed sound for such a young artist. This is a disc that sounds like a label venture with some money put into the investment of making it rather than a self-released DIY affair. The key elements are fairly tranquil instrument motifs, mainly acoustic guitars and pianos, with carefully controlled and excellent quality male lead vocals on top, with some female guest vocalists making occasional appearances. This basic foundation is then expanded in a number of different manners. On just about all the compositions dampened, subdued effects are added in. Barely audible spoken voices, dampened instrument details, electronic effects, a brooding cello undercurrent and various other bits and pieces, all of them adding a subtly menacing, dream-laden atmosphere to the proceedings. Nightmarish if you like, not in a threatening manner as such but adding a feeling of unreality. Think Twilight Zone and you're fairly close I guess. Eerie more than creepy, the feeling of looking over your shoulder to see if something is there rather than terror as such. Frail instrument textures and clever use of vocal deliveries emphasize this, as do effective drum patterns and bass guitar: loud, dramatic and dominant when needed, unobtrusive parts of the whole when other aspects are given a place in the limelight. In addition we're also treated to passages with a more intense expression of course. Dark toned slow guitar riffs and organ are both used to increase depth and intensity in set places; twisted guitar details further enhance the fragile nightmarish aspects of the album as such, and on occasion Charmanis opts for his compositions to shift straight over to a massive, dark and grinding expression closer to grunge in style. There's the occasional metal edge to this album too, side by side with the otherwise careful and delicate atmospheres explored. If you can imagine a band like OSI but with a foundation in acoustic instruments rather than keyboards-driven atmospheres you might end up with an album such as "Wound". That there's room for a sparse drums and layered male vocals piece with a cloister like expression that develops into a chaotic fragmented vocals dominated affair amidst sounds of rain and thunder is, perhaps, as revealing about this disc as it is confusing.
Conclusion. Greek solo artist Spyros Charmanis has made a fine example of modern day progressive rock with "Wound". Modern day as in music that doesn't contain too many obvious references to progressive rock from its heyday, but still recognizable as belonging to the genre, at least as I regard this type of music. I suspect that those who have enjoyed a project such as Lunatic Soul might find Charmanis' latest to be an interesting one, and I wouldn't find it at all unlikely that quite a few Porcupine Tree fans might regard this disc as an interesting one either.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 15, 2013
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