Once A Day

Nick West's reviews for Bucketfull Of Brains and Rock'N'Reel

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Location: London, United Kingdom

Co-editor and publisher of Bucketfull Of Brains since 1996.

Friday, December 05, 2008


SIGMATROPIC

Dark Outside

(TONGUE MASTER)
www.tonguemaster.co.uk

Sigmatropic began in the late 90s as a floating ensemble gathered around the Greek musician Akis Boyatkis. Purveyors of a Hellenic-hued electronica, in 2003 they released 16 Haiku; settings of poems in English translation by the Greek Nobel laureate George Seferis. A cohort of sympathetic singers was recruited to the project including Alejandro Escovedo, Robert Wyatt and Carla Torgerson, and, if something of an acquired taste, it was fascinating.

Sigmatropic now appear to have a more settled line-up and have added the earthy blues-tinged vocals of Anna Karakalou, though they still employ other voices; Torgerson again, Howe Gelb, Robert Fisher, and Jim Sclavunos. Together they create an intriguing melange, like a combination of Portishead, The Walkabouts, and Lee Hazlewood. Vistas of heat and light, sea and sand, open up. There’s a definite European art movie ambience accentuated by the often-mellifluous lyrics of Boyatkis and Michael Willet.

Bright variety is the order of the day; Sclavunos impassioned on ‘Ours At Least’, Torgerson fragile on ‘Red Across The Sand’. Gelb and Karakalou contrast on ‘White’; he speaks she sings. Boyatkis, at times, adopts a style of sing-song storytelling, straight out of the nursery, most notably on the e.e.cummings’ setting ‘maggie and millie and molly and may’. It falls to Fisher to throw perhaps the biggest surprise in ‘The Blue Side Of The Sun’, less in the voice than the setting; a early 80s funk backdrop redolent of Pigbag, Wham, or somewhere in between.

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