Arp: Inversions
Geographic North

There's much to recommend this latest cassette outing from Geographic North, variety for starters. Inversions features three very different pieces by NYC-based Alexis Georgopoulos operating under the Arp name (in keeping with the project's mercurial nature, previous Arp releases have appeared on RVNG Intl., Mexican Summer, and Smalltown Supersound). In simplest terms, Inversions presents three distinct sides of the Arp persona, specifically a brief foray into modern classical, a bold raga-styled excursion, and finally a dancefloor-styled workout designed for club play.

The two longer pieces, as different as they are stylistically, share certain properties: both originally were created for a 2014 sound installation (at NYC's Jack Hanley Gallery) and were composed in the same key (C minor Dorian). Beyond that, however, they inhabit distinct universes. Side A's “Raga for Moog & Violin” is the release's drawing card, a nineteen-minute meditation coupling Georgopoulos on Moog synthesizer with Nicky Mao (aka Hiro Kone) on violin. The contrast in timbre between the instruments is a major part of the track's appeal: the softly burbling analog synthesizer is fundamentally unlike the string instrument on sonorous grounds, and the difference is accentuated even more when the violin appears as, firstly, upwardly swooping glissandos and subsequently soft, breath-like utterances. For his part, Georgopoulos generates a placid bed of meandering tones to which Mao responds, sometimes dramatically and at other times restrainedly.

On the flip side, “Flamingo” presents fifteen bubbly minutes of kosmische pulsations undergirded by a pounding kick drum and endless volleys of synth stabs and wiry, sequencer-like patterns. Still, though it's effective as an extended riff on rhythm-focused body music, “Flamingo” is lean melodically speaking and as such registers as more of an ambient-techno workout that naturally blends into the background. At tape's end, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” switches things up one final time, with this time four chiming minutes of acoustic piano played in an ambient-classical mode to end the release on a wave of brightness and serenity. The B-side's pieces offer a variety of satisfactions, to be sure, but it's “Raga for Moog & Violin” that's the release's standout. If anything, the violin adds so much to the piece, Georgopoulos might want to consider keeping the collaboration going; it would be a shame to see this memorable production be a one-time thing.

September 2016