ap'strophe
// ap'strophe currently working on their third album // more info coming soon //
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ap’strophe is the duo of Ferran Fages and Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga. They began working together in 2006, when Ferran Fages recorded “Cançons per a un lent retard”. At that time he collaborated with Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga in the track Paraula clau, which they composed and interpreted together. After recording the album they realized the impossibility of re-interpreting this piece, which is based on the detuning(s) of the guitar, but decided to continue working together and started to search for a common sonoric space. The result of this survey gave shape to their present collaboration, which consists of a duo of acoustic guitar and zither. With their music they investigate the perception of the distinctive timbre of the guitar and the zither alongside the differences and similarities of their string instruments. Their approximation combines the acoustic with the electronic in the sense that they employ frequencies produced by their acoustic notes together with sounds produced by electronic means. Their first album ‘objects sense objectes’ has been released in Etude Records in May 2009, while their second album ‘corgroc’ is out now in another timbre.
ap’strophe is the duo of Ferran Fages and Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga. They began working together in 2006, when Ferran Fages recorded “Cançons per a un lent retard”. At that time he collaborated with Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga in the track Paraula clau, which they composed and interpreted together. After recording the album they realized the impossibility of re-interpreting this piece, which is based on the detuning(s) of the guitar, but decided to continue working together and started to search for a common sonoric space. The result of this survey gave shape to their present collaboration, which consists of a duo of acoustic guitar and zither. With their music they investigate the perception of the distinctive timbre of the guitar and the zither alongside the differences and similarities of their string instruments. Their approximation combines the acoustic with the electronic in the sense that they employ frequencies produced by their acoustic notes together with sounds produced by electronic means. Their first album ‘objects sense objectes’ has been released in Etude Records in May 2009, while their second album ‘corgroc’ is out now in another timbre.
Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga (Thessaloniki, Greece, 1981) is currently based in London. She is active in the field of experimental, electro-acoustic and improvised music, playing the zither since 2006. Dimitra remaps the zither's territory, treating it as the interior of the piano and a resonance box, by making use of various objects detached from their typical usage. She performs solo, in long-term collaborations (with Ferran Fages as ap'strophe) and in occasional formations.

www.strokebystroke.net
Ferran Fages (Barcelona, Spain, 1974) is an improviser and composer. He plays guitar, amplifiers, radios, resonant objects, acoustic turntable and electronics: “feedback mixing board”, pick-ups and oscillators.

www.ferranfages.net
Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga (Thessaloniki, Greece, 1981) is currently based in Athens. She plays the zither since 2006. She treats it as the interior of a piano, extending its sonic possibilities by preparing its strings making use of various objects detached from their usual usage, as well as of electronic media as the e-bow. She is particularly interested in the co-articulation of acoustic and electronic sounds on the resonance box of an instrument.

www.apstrophe.net/dimitra
Ferran Fages (Barcelona, Spain, 1974) is an improviser and composer. He plays guitar, amplifiers, radios, resonant objects, acoustic turntable and electronics: “feedback mixing board”, pick-ups and oscillators.

www.ferranfages.net
past concerts

ap'strophe + Chris Heenan (contrabass clarinet) + Lucio Capece/Kostis Kilymis
28.05.2011, sowieso, berlin

ap'strophe meets Kammerlärm (quintet)
ap'strophe + Lucio Capece (bass clarinet, saxophone, objects), Axel Doerner (trumpet), Robin Hayward (tuba)
31.05.2011, quiet cue, berlin

trio with Danae Stefanou (piano)
25.06.2010, festival TOT 1.0, Knot Gallery, Athens

ap'strophe + tellus (pilar subirà, alfredo costa monteiro)
12.05.2010, Barcelona

Festival PiedNu
31.03.2010, Le Havre, France

trio with Christine Sehnaoui (alto saxophone)
01.04.2010, espace en cours, Paris, France

21.06.2009, taller tramuntana, Barcelona

ap’strophe with constanza brncic- presentation of the album objects sense objectes
07.06.2009, taller tramuntana, Barcelona

ap’strophe
Phill Niblock
17.05.2009, Hangar, Barcelona

with Birgit Uhler
IBA col·lectiu d’improvisació concert # 176
04.05.2008, Barcelona

home concerts
spring-summer 2008, Barcelona
discography


ap'strophe
Objects sense objectes

Etude records
May 2009

tracks: 3. 5:46 / 6. 31:35 / 7/2 6:47 / 12 12:11 | TT 56:23

Recorded by Christian Pallejà at maik maier studios in Barcelona, Dec 2008
Mixed and Mastered by Ferran Conangla at estudis FCM, Barcelona, Feb 2009


About "Objects sense objectes"

Commenting on the title he gave to the first album by ap’strophe, Michalis Kyratsous writes:
By applying the title “objects sense objectes” I wanted to throw some light on the paradoxes of the function of objects (object, objecte) within the field of contemporary improvised music, as they appear and operate in this first release by the duo ap’strophe. The forms that emerge from these four musical ‘exercises’ are essentially lacking, or rather moving away from what could be called objectual precision. Here we are dealing with forms that are constructed by ‘determinate’ objects, emerging from the organization of ‘determinate’ material, but, at the same time, eagerly transcending the logical determinations and the certain limits of a simple, empirical sonoric realization. The method in play is neither the suture of various schemas nor the putting together of several acoustic signs. One might describe its particularity (idio-morphy) as a procedure of overloading, as a gradation of signifiers (sense), or an approximation of an autonomous discourse –all the above being recurrent phenomena, proper to the nature and practice of improvised music of the last four decades (whose ontogenesis begins in the mid sixties, though noone was nor is listening…). All this is in consonance with the philosopher Michel Serres, who in his book on senses affirms: “A sound event does not take place, but occupies space, even if the source - its cause- often remains vague...”. This complex treatment of object and discourse allows us to consider the ambiguous nature, and why not, the essence of this entity, of this musical genre that was recently described by critics as “electroacoustic improvisation” (but, beware, the term improvisation shall not decide on the end, the telos of this music, it rather pretends to signify a modulation, a way of treatment, of realization of the musical material, with the simultaneous application of a restriction of contents). This is where ap’strophe are departing from and through the recording of 'objects sense objectes' they are raising the following questions: Is representation (material, form, content) the basic reality we must start from? What it is that we find through the articulation, the encounter of liberty with causality (identification through categories), in music and other fields? Can we create pure situations of psycho-physio-acoustic stimulation?
reviews

About "Corgroc"
[scroll down for reviews about "Objects sense objectes"]

The third in Another Timbre's Guitar Series sees a more obvious engagement with the instrument in its conventional form, as an acoustic, sound-producing body of metal and wood, rather than one shaped by feedback. And yet it is with an electronic microphone drone that things begin. This is probably created through holding an e-bow on one of the strings, though I'm not entirely certain – in any case, what's produced is a steady, unwavering tone off-set by howling zither scrapes. It's a fairly aggressive opening, or perhaps seems so because of the context, whereas it might not appear that way if it had found its way into the generally louder Volden/Nakamura collaboration. After five minutes or so, the drone fades away, and Fages strums melancholy chords, repeated and resonating over little pops and clicks, presumably produced by Chatzigoga. And then the track ends: this is something of a surprise, but it adds a nice symmetry and sense of neat formality – an encapsulation in miniature, perhaps, of what the duo intend to explore at greater length during the main section of the disc. Another drone opens the much longer second piece, slightly softer than the first and seeming almost to move through the air as the volume is subtly turned up and down – at once immobile (as emphasised when set against interspersed string-strums) and full of strong rhythmic suggestion. Guitar and zither, generally low-toned and almost hollow-sounding, pluck their way unobtrusively underneath this electronic tone, until, after eleven minutes, the sine wave fades away, to be replaced by creaks, groans and plucks that emerge cautiously from the sudden silence. Fages and Chatzigoga know how to take their time, sticking with an apparently limited palette, not getting in each other's way: notes may be cut off before they have a chance to resonate, or dribble out into a silent void; for some minutes, one of the players transforms their instrument into a door-hinge that needs oiling; now, with alternating single notes, the atmosphere turns distinctly doleful and ominous, Fages' guitar monosyllabic, as if letting out single words interspersed with extended, tortuous pauses, Chatzigoga using the zither as a minimalist percussion instrument ; and eventually even this becomes too much, both musicians sitting for a moment in total silence. The music picks itself up again, drags itself across the floor, the concentration now on squealing bowed zither tones, guitar still resonating with a mournful, monosyllabic lower-end. In truth, it's a somewhat tentative re-start, but it leads into something that caught me completely by surprise. While the other 'Guitar Series' discs have moments of emotional pull, there's nothing quite like the drawn-out melancholy of this section; indeed, 'melancholy' is hardly an adequate adjective for the sense of claustrophobic near-torment, of deep despair that's present – all see-sawing tones, like moaning, crying voices, quiet howls, inexorable whines. This carries on for some fifteen minutes; at a certain point, the howl-scape is joined by another of those electronic tones, this one fluttering like a sedated insect, and initiating a dip in emotional intensity, as chiming hand-bells and mic'd-up finger-taps add a swirling, rhythmic dimension that drags itself out past the disappearance of the electronic tone and into the a final silence. Given the way that the music suddenly develops from subdued textural minimalism to something of genuine, sustained emotional intensity, I find myself rather at a loss as to how to sum up the album's impression on me, especially as other reviewers seem not to have been so affected. But the fact remains that I was actively disturbed by the music's unexpected cumulative power and pull – caught off-guard, one might say. This may not strike some people as a recommendation; but 'Corgroc' is an unusually compelling recording, one which evolves from being 'just' a fine piece of improvisation into something much more: a work of real and remorseless power. –David Grundy [Eartrip]

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Ap'strophe is Ferran Fages, a guitarist and turntablist from Barcelona, and zither player Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga. They have played together for four years and have developed a quite breathtaking music that sounds something like what eels produce in the stomach. Pure acoustic passages are overwhelmed by orgies of sound where it is difficult to determine what is acoustic and what is electronic. On the album it says that they play guitar and zither, but the instruments are treated as if they were loudspeakers.

It is entirely appropriate that Ap'strophe is part of the guitar series on Another Timbre, especially since it is representative of the new Spanish scene. The music was recorded in Barcelona two years ago, but was mixed last year, and I assume that some effort has gone into the latter part of the process. The duo has previously produced pieces that are only available in written form, and seem difficult to perform live or to be reproduced.

Ferran Fages is based in noise improvisation, and the guitar sounds he uses seem really open. But he also plays in a relatively "conventional" way with rolling shapes, measures, leaps and well thought-out passages, which are interwoven with the zither, which sometimes produces loud mists of sound. Fages is a sonorous and variable improviser whose playing always has a musical flow.

Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga conjures up repetitive shapes that spin out like propellers over Fages' somewhat slower pace. In contrast to the weight of Fages's playing she spins the music into moments of sharp ecstasy.

The album is divided into two parts. First a brief, strident and cauterizing piece, then a long sound journey where the focus often switches direction. The music involves roaring clusters of sound that seem to fly forward, reminiscent of the use of sound clouds in noise music. Ap'strophe use these as matter to knead; they punch through them, then pull them down, and fill them with simple scratches or small snaps, things that seem to have been left behind, residues from their improvisations, which they then explore to see what they can do with them. Their attitude is one of a sustained and extreme attention to detail that mixes breakdown, continuity and collage. They demonstrate that they can stay focused and on track both in sequences of rushing noise, and in quiet passages with small, low-key sounds. But they never give themselves over fully to either mode; they merely indicate that things could be done in this way, make a suggestion, but then move on to the next sound. They are unique. Searing industrial passages that seem new, exist alongside the slightest guitar sounds with minimal tones. And they play in a way I have never heard before.

One of the many highlights of the disc starts in the middle of the second piece, where Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga scrapes her zither - or whatever she does - so that it resembles the sound of a loud saxophonist in the 1970s, while Ferran Fages thoughtfully plays with microtonal intervals. And together they subside after a culmination of small dropping sounds and sparse waves of high pitches. So simple, nevertheless masterful. And then they thoughtfully pick out shards of sound to create the mirror image of the previous sequence. These reflections create an exciting form or structure through which the listener can move, walking back and forth. And the music continues, as if they are making use of different tenses at the same time. The music seems about to float away, but it is held back by its incredible sharpness, remaining long enough for some mirror-like distortion to come back. It is a journey in a land of mirrors. Both at the beginning and at the end we perceive the same image.

Ap'strophe transform free postimprovisation into a minimalist painting of a new simplicity. For long periods the album contains completely unexpected sounds, and by the end it offers a trans-art dance rhythm that is hard to resist. Without doubt one of the best records in the Another Timbre guitar series, and one of the most important releases in a long time in all categories of music. –Thomas Millroth, Sound of Music

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Another Timbre has released a series of four discs, focusing on the guitar in contemporary improvised music. One of them is the album 'Corgroc' by Ap'strophe, which is a duo of Ferran Fages on acoustic guitar and Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga on zither. There are two recordings on the album, of the two musicians playing their kind of improvised music. Improvised music is a bit like a fetish, the musicians playing a cacophony of sounds, but that is a moment in this kind of music that I particularly like. Especially when it's lucid, engaging, intense and fun. Ap'strophe has made a good album, according to that idea for improvisation. It's focused, balanced, with lots of sounds, but only from two sources (the instruments that they are using). Lots of sounds, hissing, scratching, rumbling and rolling around... It's captivating and it leaves a good impression. It should be a good night out, seeing this live, at a concert. –Boban Ristevski, Outlands

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Tonight then I have been listening to the second album by Ap’strophe, the duo of Greek zither player Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga and Spanish acoustic guitarist (on this occasion) Ferran Fages. I reviewed the first album by the duo less than a year ago here. This new disc, entitled Corgroc is part of the spring series on Another Timbre, a set of discs that are tentatively linked to the guitar. There are two tracks on this one, the first lasting a fraction under eight minutes and the second five times as long at just under forty. The music in general does not stray too far from that on the first album, but perhaps there is a slightly more fragile feel to this release, a more simple structure. The first track, titled Spring begins with a stream of “finger nails scraped down a blackboard” sounds that I quite like but would annoy the hell out of most people. These are accompanied by a series of soft constant tones, presumably the result of an eBow placed against the strings of one or the other instrument. Gradually over a period of several minutes the grating sounds dissipate, and while the sinetones remain a series of more muted scrabbling and knocking remains until everything dies away and Fages’ forlorn sounding fingerpicked guitar appears for a few moments, closing the track with little fragments of half-forgotten melodies.

The second, much longer track, called curiously, is like a perhaps hand begins slowly, with more persistent tones hanging in the air, punctuated by smaller sounds from one or the other musician. It really is hard to tell where the sinetones come from as we also seem to hear both plucked zither and guitar while they remain. Things develop very slowly, always remaining very simple, using the technique of placing shorter sounds against the elongated tones as a basic rule. Often things break down to leave just the tone on its own, remaining constant for long periods until the eBow is shifted, or maybe another is added. It is not until nigh on twenty minutes into the piece that the sinetones cease and the mall clicks and plinks at strings mix with the occasional harsh scrape through a section that sounds even more sparse than it really is following soon after the dense high pitched sounds that had preceded it. There is a real tension in this part of the album, an awkward feeling of non-musical interaction as the little sounds seem to bounce about without any real connection. Slowly the guitar reappears, and we hear small three or four note particles of Fages’ playing here and there, though by the half-hour mark the music seems to fall apart again in a really strange, uncomfortable manner, leaving a minute or so of complete silence until some bowed strings slowly rise up and the music starts again. Gradually things build into a thick passage of heaving bowed zither with the guitar once again staying in small sounds territory, as if not listening to Chatzigoga’s grinding attacks. Throughout the entire CD there is this feeling of the two musicians keeping away from matching each other’s approach, so we always get to hear two different sets of sounds juxtaposed against each other rather than the musicians trying to merge their inputs together. The track then really begins to become more active than the rest of the album put together in the last ten minutes as a piercing, slightly oscillating tone arrives, and all kinds of scurrying, crashing and tinkling sits alongside it, gaining in intensity before collapsing in on itself to leave just the quietest of semi rhythmic scrapes sat in the distant reaches of the recording.

Corgroc is an intriguing, occasionally quite perplexing album. While most of the sounds used are very familiar to those that follow this area of music the way they are placed alongside each other, and the way they tend to sit in opposition to each other rather than blend into one is all a little uncomfortable, but in a healthy way. On the one hand this sounds like an album we have heard many times before, but on the other nothing quite works as we think it should, and the music has a certain fragility to it as a result, a feeling that it can all fall apart at any moment, as it repeatedly does. Curious and inventive music then, one has to listen to for what it is rather than what we think it should be. If that makes sense… –Richard Pinnell (the watchful ear) [link]

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The second release from the duo of Ferran Fages (acoustic guitar) and Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga (zither) (how great is that name, btw?). The disc consists of two pieces, the first about eight minutes, the other some 40 and, so arranged, it's hard not to hear the album as a prelude and a central piece. Hearing it so has its advantages as it forces one to try to grasp the pieces as a whole rather than a sequence of events which, in this case, with my ears, serves to benefit the music. The first track, "spring", begins quite harshly, even unpleasantly, a screechy, raspy sound (tightly bowed zither?) over a wavering, thin drone. It's a little off-putting on its own but "looking back" at the piece, after the gorgeous denouement of softly stroked guitar, one gets the sour/sweet aspect and it feels like a solid whole.

Similarly, with greater complications, for the long work. On the one hand, it seems to take a while to really find its groove but after it does, you realize how necessary the initial, more meandering parts, were. It opens with delicate, bowed drones, jangling a bit, very pretty then subsides into a very sparse are, all isolated squeaky bowings and soft plucks and taps. Almost imperceptibly, things begin to gel, the two instruments edging into more plaintive tones, still spare, but with emotional resonance. It's not a straight path, though, wherein lies much of the fascination. They veer of into several pathways, some less promising than others, enter some enticing buzz-saw environs and eventually "stumble" into a peaceful, serene glade of sorts, humming and vibrating more solidly, more convincingly than at the beginning. It's quite a lovely journey, imaginatively (if unconsciously) plotted. –Brian Olewnick (Just Outside) [link]

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KUCHEN & ROWE & SEYMOUR (CD by Another Timbre)
HAVARD VOLDEN & TOSHIMARU NAKAMARU - CREPUSCULAR RAYS (CD by Another Timbre)
AP'STROPHE - CORGROC (CD by Another Timbre)
[...] The final release is Ap'strophe, the only release here, which has a bandname attached to it. Its a duo of one Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga on zither and the more known Ferran Fages on acoustic guitar. Its also the only one which was recorded in a studio, and probably mixed from various microphone recordings. I'm not sure, but there seems to be some form of amplification, as things buzz around at times. But its the acoustic playing that prevails here. Both the zither and the guitar are plucked, bowed, hit. Most of the time with loving care, but at some occasions also with brutal force, and things start ringing and buzzing around. A release that covers the whole territory of loud vs quiet, noise vs silent, carefulness and brute force. Quite a demanding release too, which requires ones full attention before giving its beauty. Three excellent releases. –Frans de Waard (Vitalweekly 729) [link]

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Honey on the razor's edge (abstract)
On one singularly striking track on Cançons, Athens [Greece]-based zither player Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga accompanies Fages by detuning the guitar as he plucks dolorous notes and hammers out shimmering, unstable chords. It is a harrowing effect, an extension of his dark sound that is seamless and invisible. Move forward several years, and Lazaridou-Chatzigoga and Fages have a working duo called Ap'strophe, with two releases available, Objects sense objectes from 2009 and Corgroc, just released as part of the four disc guitar series on Simon Reynell's imprint, Another Timbre.
[...]
Ap'strophe's sound world is tough sledding, if approached with any vestiges of expectation about what an acoustic guitar/zither duo might sound like. Lazaridou-Chatzigoga offers gears grinding, steady-state sine tones, gates creaking and hallucinatory string-sawing. At times she sustains an abrasive area just to the brink of exhausting its interest. She is alternately delicate, murmuring and purring, and supportive of Fages' occasional foregrounding of the guitar, principally with sustained, wobbly pitches. She brings to mind Harry Partch's kitara, the third bridge mutant of the zither that enabled him to sound extended techniques on a familiar sounding folk instrument. And what of Fages' contribution to the Ap'strophe gestalt? Look, I'm not going to pretend I can always discern where one leaves off and the other begins. Much of the time Fages' guitar is a guitar, picked and strummed here and there through the ambiguity and duo fusion, metal and wood self-evident. [The nearest acoustic guitar-sourced sound palette that comes to mind is that of Arek Gulbenkoglu, a brilliant, sadly overlooked guitarist whose acoustic guitar work sounds like anything but]. Much of the time the duo erase the distinctions, and become the single-sensibility sound generator that characterizes the similarly yoked Cremaster.
[...]
Ap'strophe's Corgroc consists of two tracks, titled after the first line of an e.e. cummings poem that begins
spring is like a perhaps hand
[which comes carefully
out of nowhere] arranging
a window, into which people look.

Corgroc, situated within the Another Timbre series of the-guitar-and-how-it-got-that-way conceit, is certainly vexing at times. There is, to paraphrase Joachim-Ernst Berendt's observation about Monk, "a pathological aversion to playing the next expected sound." Repeated listens lay bare with what rigor and musicality the duo pursue that subterfuge, and actually how much their sound world is made of steel wire and wood after all. I really enjoy the sound of Ap'strophe's intimacy and the degree to which they bring a noise sensibility to their quiet sound spectrum.

Fages' work reminds me of a sort of off-hand categorization system an old friend, himself an improvising musician, shared with me 30 years ago. He said a lot of the music coming out of the European free improvisation scene, as well as American free music, could be heard as either "low-intensity/high volume", or "high-intensity/low-volume." The former, the theory runs, is balls-to-the-wall, screaming free music, volume supplanting a genuine, visceral intensity. The latter is music that achieves that grip of visceral intensity at even low volumes. Ap'strophe, and Fages' solo guitar work, is definitely of the latter. Cremaster's Noranta Graus A L'Esquerrat, with both extreme volume and attention and care given to the detail in the detritus, is high volume/high intensity. [read full review here] –Jesse Goin

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About "Objects sense objectes"

Ferran Fages (acoustic guitar), Dimitra Lararidou Chatzigoga (zither). The beauty of the plucked and buzzing string. Sometimes, the music recalls Partch's kithara, both in timbre and in the open, airy freedom he brought to the instrument. There's a certain amount of electronics employed in terms of feedback and, I think, string agitators of one sort or another, generally with effectiveness as on the lengthy "6", a novella of bumps, plinks, dropped objects and hums that grow thin here and there but holds one's attention more than not. Fages always has a tonal core no matter how far afield he floats and seems to have found a like soul in Chatzigoga; there's a warmth present throughout. A smidgen of fringe-Fahey creeps into the especially lovely last track, "12", as guitar notes are bent, allowed to hang, buffeted by jangling zither strings. Good recording, relaxing like strange wind-chimes on the one hand but with a gentle knottiness that lurks beneath the surface. –Brian Olewnick "Just Outside" [link]

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The press text for this release gives a pretty complicated text about the title, which deals with a philosophical explanation of 'improvisation', which I somehow fail to comprehend, but Ap'strophe is a duo of Ferran Fages on acoustic guitar and Dimitri Lazridou Chatzigoga, of whom I never heard, on zither. They worked together on Fages' last guitar album 'Cancons Per A Un Lent Retard', in which they worked with detuning guitars, and it inspired them to go on and work on new material. That resulted in this album 'Objects Sense Objects', which has four pieces. The shortest is just under six minutes while the longest is thirty-one. That deems to me that this is all a bit long. It's almost an hour worth of improvised music 'scored' (?) for two acoustic instruments, and its an extensive exploration of the instruments used here. Things ramble, detune, pluck and hit. Due to the extensive character of the pieces I thought this was best enjoyed while sitting back and let the music come over the listener, and not by trying to fully concentrate on each specific sound event happening. That seems to be too much asked from the listener. If you want to do that, I'd say take this in smaller quantities. But taken as a bath of sound to immerse yourself in, I think this is a fairly good album of sound explorations and improvisations for two instruments. Maybe I should try and understand the text better to see if I missed a point. –FdW [Vital Weekly]

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Ferran Fages and Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga have teamed up, perhaps on a temporary basis, to form ap’strophe; Ferran plays the acoustic guitar, while his sparring partner handles zither duties. On objects sense objectes (ETUDE RECORDS 019), the listener should be prepared for lengthy stretches of exploratory noise-making, as both players seem determined to extract anything but “normal” acoustic sounds from their chosen instruments, and tentatively approach these wooden stringed monsters as if they were tentacled aliens from Venus, or caged tigers that might bite. (One press photograph shows Fages holding his instrument with its head brushing the floor, a most unconventional posture). The winged bird on the turquoise cover promises something of the romance of freedom, but this CD spends more time on the runway and less time in the air than we might have expected. Writer Michalis Kyratsous devised the title for this CD; in explanatory notes, he speaks of “the suture of various schemas”, “ontogenesis” and “psycho-physico-acoustic stimulation”, in his attempts to “throw some light on the paradoxes of the function of objects”. –Ed Pinset [The Sound Projector] [link]

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Eine Begegnung von Ferran Fages und Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga mit tönenden Reibungen von akustischer Gitarre und Zither. Die Stichwörter dazu liefert Michel Serres‘ Die fünf Sinne. Darin spricht er davon, wie die ‚Stabilität des Objekts‘ mit der ‚Labilität der Beziehungen‘ vexiert, die Panoptik des Mißtrauens und Überwachens mit der Panik und dem Zauber des Klangs. Der Blick distanziert, Musik berührt, Lärm schießt ein. Abwesend, ubiquitär, allgegenwärtig hüllt der Lärm den Körper ein. Und mit einer Volte kippt Serres auch dies, denn seit langem schon schlafen wir nun, betäubt von Geräuschen und Musik, ohne etwas zu sehen und ohne etwas zu denken. Hermes hat die Weltherrschaft an sich gerissen, unsere technische Welt existiert nur durch das Integral des Tohuwabohus. Wie also eine psycho-physio-akustische Stimulation bewerkstelligen mit der vollen Ambiguität von Belauschen und Lauschen, der ganzen Paradoxie einer bestimmten Unbestimmtheit? Ähnlich wie Fages bei seinem Solo Al voltant d‘un paral.lel ist Ap‘strophe träumerisch auf Draht, spinnt fragile Fäden um Luftlöcher, zieht sich aus dem Tohuwabohu zurück ins Vage, schafft Luft für Poesie und gibt einem die Zeit, auch noch dem Nachhall krumm gezogener Klänge zu lauschen. [ba 63 rbd]

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Ferran Fages continues his investigation of the acoustic guitar, and here Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga joins him for the ride as the duo, “ap’strophe.” Chatzigoga plays a trebly, dobro-sounding zither, and Fages, maybe having settled upon what he needed from his instrument, does a slow about-face from what we heard on last year’s al voltant d’un paral’lel, with playing that is more abstract.

Lest we get ahead of ourselves with expectations, objects sense objectes is completely atonal and arrhythmic. Little to no instance of harmony will be found here outside of chance, particularly of a traditional variety. That said, it sounds a lot lot a Fages project; he’s savvy in the practice of getting a good recording, sonically, out of his playing efforts. Chatzigoga (Greece) is new to me, and it’s clear she and Fages share the same approach, at least in this diminutive area of music.

For “3,” a call-and-response exercise, guitar and zither are played at points with loose fretting of the strings, causing buzz and premature decay of natural tones. While the entire disc benefits from a nice stereo field and near-zero noise floor, these attributes are particularly fine here, with the instruments drifting into and away from their respective channels.

The most enjoyable track is “6” — a long duet for the instruments using extended techniques and various agitational devices, i.e. E-bows, perhaps hand-held fans, and other vibratory equipment. The individual voices and techniques of the players proliferate on this piece, with one or the other laying out at points. Fages forgoes the near-conventional playing heard on his solo disc for a style comprised of rougher edges, using a loosely held slide and over-enthusiastic fingers. Near the center of the piece both players can be heard using E-bows, Fages incorporating the device with a slide, in search of sweet spots in resonance, then quickly abandoning the found tones for something more gristly.

Other tactics are prominent with Fages, such as snapped strings detuned to lower frequencies (for the purpose of better buzz against the fretboard) and in concert with Chatzigoga’s tapping on the zither’s wood. This is a repeated feature across the disc, the investigation of other aspects/properties of the instrumentation, like scraping and rubbing surfaces.

It’s not an easy listen, as both players seem to want to undo our expectations of the natural sounds of their instruments, and doing further damage to any such recollection with playing what comes off in large part as destructive. I wish I could say the whole of it is engaging, and perhaps the duo had other, less apparent goals in mind. The disc is best-heard free of distractions or other sound on loud, strategically spaced speakers, as the quality of mastering and mix are where it succeeds most. –Al Jones [Bagatellen] [link]

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Anyway this morning was spent slightly bemused by repeated listening to a recording of Janacek’s string quartets, (mad rollercoaster-ride music) but tonight on the journey home and again right now I have been listening to Objects sense objectes, an album by Ferran Fages and Dimitra Lazaidou Chatzigoga under the name Ap’ostrophe. In recent years Fages has released a couple of very strong solo guitar albums that saw him shift away from the intense abstractions of his work in Cremaster towards more melodic, partly composed, emotive Baileyesque playing. Here on this disc he sometimes plays in a similar manner, but also extends the approach backwards to a more textural approach. Chatzigoga plays zither, sometimes in a traditional manner, more often applying extended techniques of one kind or another though.

There are four tracks on the album, all confusingly titled. The first is called 3, the second is called 6, the third is titled 7/2 and the last 12. I have no idea why. The music is in general quite sparse. It is all acoustic and very well recorded. In a comment that followed Al Jones’ excellent review of the album at Bagatellen, Simon Reynell described the music as clean and clear. That is a great way to explain it. There are no big long silences but also no dense passages or areas where you lose track of who is doing what. Guitar notes are frequent, but carefully placed, the extended sounds we hear (eBow tones and grainy vibrations in the main) are simple, quiet and well chosen, and Chatzigoga’s use of the wide scope of the zither is kept in check, working with a small set of sounds at any one time. I am reminded of the simplicity of any number of Derek Bailey duets, but perhaps more directly by some of Taku Sugimoto’s duo recordings from around the start of the decade, his work with Annette Krebs in particular.

The opening track, at just under six minutes is a nice, controlled little piece of improvisation mostly made up of plucked notes from each musician set off against each other through careful choices of contrasting pitch. The second track however, clocking in at just over half an hour in length provides most of the album’s strongest music. Here the space given by the extended track length is used well, with some delicate buzzing of agitated strings, scrapes, plucks and purrs all dropped evenly throughout. Perhaps the track is just a little bit too long, causing it to become a sprawling expanse with some truly beautiful moments scattered throughout rather than retaining a strong sense of shape and structure, but this is a small complaint in light of some of the joys to be found throughout. Sounds are allowed to decay slowly, the death of each note captured beautifully by the excellent recording. There is a distinct physicality apparent to every sound. The listener can picture each being made and engage closely with the interaction between the musicians as everything evolves very slowly.

The third track features a lot of loosely strung notes from one instrument or the other, buzzing gently as they die away, every vibration hanging cleanly in the air. This piece, like the poignant, almost mournful closing track allow the instruments to really have their say, with every strike of every string presented beautifully. There is a kind of slowed-down blues feel to the last twelve minute study that reminds me again of Sugimoto, or perhaps actually Resonator period Akiyama. At times, when Chatzigoga’s loosely tuned zither strings purr deeply it feels like I am listening to a Robert Johnson record slowed right down to a virtual stop, with each miniscule particle of the playing audible. Later in the track some stunningly well controlled tones can be heard following individual notes, barely audible but powerfully resonant.

Obects sense objects is a lovely record, very simple and honest in its construction, placing the musician’s individual and collaborative contributions right upfront with nowhere to hide. Occasionally this reveals bad choices made, but more often than not it just exposes the emotive musicality of the two improvisers and their collaborative processes. Definitely one for rainy Sunday evenings with the lights dimmed and the stereo down low. This album is even better than the two recent Fages solo discs if you ask me, and a fine first exposure to Chatzigoga’s work (she is from Greece by the way) Really nice stuff, released on the Etude label. –Richard Pinnell [link]

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When you think of the zither it’s impossible not to be reminded of Anton Karas’ idiosyncratic and jaunty theme to the Carol Reed’s 1949 thriller The Third Man. Whilst the twang is still present on this curious experimental album, all the music and mischief has been sucked out and we’re left with a rather textural exploration of the instrument itself, sound art style. It’s played by Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga, who plucks, picks, drags, vibrates, even hits her beast, often emphasising a unique fuzzy, buzzing metallic resonance, particularly on the 31 minute track curiously titled ‘6’. She’s joined by Barcelona-based guitarist and experimental musician Ferran Fages, who contributes some spooky electro acoustic inspired guitar, often using e-bows or fans, perhaps even a violin bow.

We’re in a heady, at times atonal, arrhythmic experimental realm for this release where the duo eschew any forms of melody or musicality, where at times you even question whether they are actually playing together. This kind of questioning comes on the first piece, again oddly titled ‘3′, where the duo seem to gently trade notes, one for one, allowing time for the decay of the other before chiming in themselves, a kind of “row row row your boat”, for the avant-garde set. Midway they begin to gradually relax the rules, no longer respecting each others space, finishing the other one’s note – offering added texture. Yet this is only slight and by the end they have returned to their earlier positions. It’s this lack of compromise to listeners sensitivities, to their need for understandable patterns or structures that makes Objects Sense Objectes such a difficult listen. The textures are there, the decays, the silence, and it’s quite gentle and non-explosive, there’s even some really interesting ways in which their respective instruments are pushed into really peculiar previously nonexistent realms, particularly during the droning moments on the previously mentioned ‘6′. Sonically it’s beyond reproach, however conceptually it’ s a very difficult beast in which to find an entry point. –Bob Baker Fish [Cyclic Defrost] [link]

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Ferran Fages was voorheen actief met no-input instrumenten en pickups in Cremaster maar hij is al enige tijd vooral gitarist. Een zware zit voor zijn vader (Cançons per a un lent retard) op akoestische gitaar, een soort Derek Bailey doet Raster Noton (maar zonder elektronische toevoegingen) en een wat bondigere live plaat op elektrische gitaar. Ap'strophe is een samenwerkingsverband met zitherspeelster Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga die ook nog wat met sinusoïden doet. Nog steeds geen licht verteerbare kost maar wel een heel eigen wereld die blijft intrigeren, al is het geen ontspanningsmuziek. –Martijn B. [http://www.subjectivisten.nl] [link]

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The duo of Ap’Strophe is comprised of Ferran Fages and Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga on the acoustic guitar and zither respectively. Each piece is expertly improvised with a gracious amount of space given to each tone employed. The wide ranging hues that this duo is able to produce from their instruments through a variety of techniques will expand the listener’s concept of the potentials of acoustic music. This is an excellent listen which I would recommend highly. 8/10 –Kevin Richards [foxy digitalis] [link]

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Sur Objects sense objectes, Ferran Fages (guitare) et Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga (cithare) font front commun et tentent de redresser ensemble leur ensemble minuscule de cordes à la dérive. Sèches toutes, brutes et parfois lâches, celles-ci se nourrissent de leur propre discours avant qu’entre un drone inattendu, qui va et vient parmi les nouvelles propositions de Fages et Chatzigoga : plus percussives maintenant, lorsqu’il ne s’agit pas de grattements ou même – provocation ultime – d’un arpège joué proprement. Heureusement, l’usage familier n’est que passager, et reparaissent les dissonances, les silences derrière lesquels sont pensés d’autres coups et les tensions changeantes capables aussi de notes limites. Voici les tourments d’Objects sense objectes rassurés, et même confortés. –Guillaume Belhomme (Le Son du Grisli)

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En un disco anterior de Ferran Fages, Cançons per a un lent retard (Etude 013, 2007), había un tema, “Paraula clau” (palabra clave), en el que la guitarra acústica de Fages se hacía acompañar por las desafinaciones de Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga. Este tema, elaborado con desafinaciones o desarreglos del sonido, surgía en medio de un disco de guitarra acústica, convirtiéndose en una especie de agujero, de extrañamiento, dentro de Cançons. La experiencia que se inició entonces, y que no pudo desarrollarse más a fondo dentro de aquel disco debido al planteamiento temático que tenía, terminaría por encontrar su propio espacio de gestación meses más tarde, cuando Fages y Lazaridou-Chatzigoga reemprendían el camino iniciado en “Paraula clau”.

Pero si en Cançons el trabajo del dúo quedaba como algo parentético, en Objects sense objectes toda esa labor de conversión del sonido acústico es el tema central. Tras el primer corte, “3”, en el que la guitarra y la cítara mantienen casi intactas sus particularidades acústicas, llega el largo “6”, más de media hora de sonido agónico en la que el dúo desholla lenta y pacientemente las características de ambos instrumentos con deslizamientos, rasgueos, pellizcos y golpes, exasperando su tesitura metálica o bien disolviendo la tonalidad en el ruido, destartalándolos y transmutándolos en unas fuentes de sonido completamente distintas a lo que como objetos son. Con el (nuevo) sonido resultante a veces parecen dirigirse hacia el campo de lo ambiental y otras hacia la generación de sonidos y timbres abruptos e hirientes, aunque puntualmente guitarra y cítara recuperan su tesitura, su compostura.

No obstante lo abstracto del planteamiento, queda algo de voz humana todavía dentro del corpus sonoro de Objects sense objectes, porque las cosas (improvisadas) transcurren con cuidado y atención. Este es uno de esos trabajos que, definitivamente, no ha de ser valorado por los parámetros musicales al uso, sino más bien como una experiencia artística en la que el elemento involucrado es el sonido, su naturaleza y cómo alterarla. Esta próxima primavera el sello inglés Another Timbre editará el segundo disco de ap’strophe, titulado Corgroc. –Jack Torrance [link]

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Four pieces for acoustic guitar and zither hardly sounds like the makings of a set of adventurous collective improvisation. But a look at the personnel changes all that. Faren Fages has been releasing some of the more captivating recordings of improvised music, whether in partnership with musicians like Ruth Barberan and Alfredo Costa Monteiro, or in solo settings for his acoustic and electric guitar. On first listen to this collaboration with Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga, one would often be hard pressed to identify that this is a purely acoustic recording. Using close miking and vari- ous treatments, guitar and zither are used as resonators for excited and activated strings. The buzz of loosely strung strings against metallic frets, the quavering frequencies of E-bow sliding across strings, the careful balance of percussive attack and modulated decay of sound are all masterfully formed into engulfing improvisa- tions. The pristine recording captures every subtle nuance, particu- larly on the 30-minute “6,” where the two musicians shape pools of events against a backdrop of inky silence. Jangling de-tuned chords ring out against shades of overtones, crinkles, and abrasions. There is a slow deliberation to the pacing as the two open up the sound space to maximize every detail. The two often use carefully placed pure tones and harmonics which stand in stark contrast to the field of coruscated textures. On other pieces, Fages lets chords resonate, using tonality as a structural component in the Free abstractions. This one is another winner for Fages and an intriguing introduction to Chatzigoga. It’s well worth searching out. –Michael Rosenstein (cadence music magazine)

ap'strophe
Corgroc

another timbre
April 2010

tracks: 1 spring / 2 is like a perhaps hand

Recorded by Christian Pallejà at maik maier studios in Barcelona, dec. 2008
Mixed and Mastered by Ferran Conangla at estudis FCM, Barcelona, feb. 2009

Barcelona-based Ferran Fages is known both for his lyrical acoustic guitar playing (on solo discs such as Cancons a per un Lent Retard and Al Voltant d'un Para/'lel) and for hard-edged electronics (with groups such as Cremaster and Octante). His work in ap'strophe is an intriguing combination of these two sides of his music: there is plenty of resonant acoustic playing, but this is set against both the zither of Athens-based Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga, and both players' sometimes harsh electronic extensions of their instruments' timbres. The two collaborated before on one track of Cancons a per un Lent Retard, and - as ap'strophe - released a well-received disc Objects Sense Objectes on the Etude label in 2009.
news / upcoming

ap'strophe in Paris!

07.04.2012, 20:30h
Lali Barrière + Dafne Sandoval and ap'strophe
Naxos Bobine, Paris
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6 (fragment), Objects sense objectes


3, Objects sense objectes


is like a perhaps hand (fragment), Corgroc











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