Personnel: Freek Ruysschaert, Robin Van Heghe (violin); Pieter De Rydt (viola); Harm Garreyn (cello); Toshiyuki Shibata (flute); Eva Debruyne (oboe); Fabienne Vergalle (bassoon); Jesus Moreno Miras (trombone); Hannes Verstraete (horns); Mike Delaere (upright bass); Simon Decraene (percussion).
Recording information: Concert Studio, Schouwburg, Kortrjik.
Photographer: Julie Calbert.
Arranger: David Anne.
Brussels-based multimedia artist Christina Vantzou's third album expands upon the symphonic sound of her first two, continuing to mix orchestral instruments and choir vocals with electronics in order to create shifting soundscapes that mystify and enchant. At 71 minutes in length, No. 3 is easily her longest and most ambitious album to date, as well as her most structured, as it revolves around a series of pieces called "pillars," intended to be more direct than the ethereal drones that make up the rest of her work. Electronic instruments play a much wider role here than on her first two albums, including several modular synthesizers, and the album's second track is named after computer music pioneer Laurie Spiegel, whose warm, unpretentious compositions are a natural precedent to Vantzou's work. Pieces such as "CV" have greater emotional depth than her prior recordings, employing strings and woodwinds that explore different dynamics. Vantzou's labelmate Loscil guests on "Stereoscope," adding a glowing bass pulse to a distant, decaying drone. The album feels dark, ominous, and chilling, conjuring up images of deepest space, yet there's an unmistakably human touch to it, emphasized by gentle pizzicato strings, sparse piano notes, and serene vocals. No. 3 is a breathtaking album, seamlessly mixing electronic and acoustic elements in order to create music that feels as earthly as it does cosmic. ~ Paul Simpson