Constantine Skourlis chases Hades with another album of immersive, oppressive tracks: a fitting corollary to our current climate. While listening to Eternal Recurrence, one can sense the cumulative weight of anger, depression, denial and finger-pointing, wrapped in a blanket of illness. This music is born in an atmosphere of struggle, whether for rights or for health, and points the way to possible Schrödinger outcomes: disaster or triumph.
Multiple contributions are required to make music this thick. In addition to electronics, halldorophone and cello, guests contribute percussion, bass clarinet and soprano voice ~ a high note that cuts through the low. Serapheim Giannacopoulos (Planet of Zeus) lends the project a heavy metal feel. Occasionally all the music breaks down, as in the beginning of “Reality Cancelled” (now there’s a 2020 title!) when a piano is able to get a word in edgewise, as if to say, hold on, there’s still hope. When the darkness encroaches in a mangled cloud of drone, one remembers there was a melody, once upon a time.
While a sociopolitical tone runs through the titles, a religious tinge does as well: “Destroy False Idols,” “Atonement,” “Ascension.” The thread of Greek mythology, apparent in Hades, continues in “Lethe.” We are living amidst grand schemes, crossing religious lines: battles for the right to define reality itself, as if our world leaders were vying for possession of the red stone. In “Reckoning,” an electronic rustle imitates a steam engine: we may move forward or back, but we must move.
To which force will listeners gravitate? Some may perceive this as melody quashed by abrasion; others abrasion softened by melody. Some may hear the hars tones as a morass of concerns; others may own these tones as cathartic expulsions of protest and disgust. Skourlis encourages the choice, just as we have the choice to be pessimistic or optimistic, to withdraw or to push back, to give up or to go on. The world is a horror show right now, but this music implies that oppression has not eradicated hope. One form of “Elegy” has been offered, but another may yet emerge. Can we pull together before it is too late? Is the opportunity for “Ascension” still available? (Richard Allen)