Constantine - Hades (Bedouin Records)

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words: Elena Mara Reed, 2017-10-26

Based in the United Arab Emirates and run by Salem Rashid, Bedouin Records deliver authenticity that goes far beyond the functionality of a club. An excellent example of bona fides is "Hades", a debut album by Constantine Skourlis. Borrowing from classical musicianship, Skourlis demonstrates an innovative approach to ambient. Highly emotive and delicate, "Hades" lies within evocative inquiry into social justice issues. The inspiration for the album came when Constantine was spending time on the Lesbos Island, the dramatic gateway for thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing the war zone. The four abstract tracks of "Hades", the title of which references the Greek god of the underworld, ingeniously document the biggest human rights crisis in decades.

The opening track, “Cosmos,” is slow yet dense. The Greek producer used field recordings from inside of a cave to capture the sound of storm. Indeed, “Cosmos” brings up the feeling of nature’s uncontrollable power. In the whirlwind and storm, church bells are ringing. Grand piano passages build suspense. The heart-wrenching cello reminds me of “Entire Populations” by violinist Jessica Moss (much like Constantine, Jessica uses her eerie violin to address the Syrian refugee crisis). The second track, “Divide,” evokes a Treha Sektorian feel. Drone, soothing chime bells and the heavily altered, ethereal, ghostly vocals of Constantine create a liturgical ambience. “Emptiness” is the peaking point of "Hades". Like a butterfly it flutters between the Earth and sky. The noisier moments are evocative of another brave response to the current political situation, namely “Eris Harmonia” EP by Lakker (the duo of Dara Smith and Ian Eomac). On the track “Emptiness,” dark sorrows burst open in a tsunami of drone, chitter and the sweetness of the pitched down cello’s compass. The last track “Erebus” is yet another confirmation of the magic of electronic and ‘live’ commingling. The title borrowed from the Greek deity born of chaos perfectly reflects the unruly yet seamlessly blended soundscapes of this beautiful finale.

The debut album by Constantine is a masterpiece opening a new chapter in a rather sterile dark ambient genre. The multi-instrumentalist Constantine Skourlis is a visionary, whose name, I predict, will soon become a living legacy for those not afraid of stepping into experimental abyss.