Hior Chronik: Unspoken Words

Athens, Greece-born Hior Chronik gets more than a little help from his friends on his sophomore album Unspoken Words, which follows quickly on the heels of his 2010 debut release I'm a Tree (Enregistrements Variables). Dictaphone clarinetist Roger Doering, I'm Not A Gun guitarist Takeshi Nishimoto, pianist Akira Kosemura, vibraphonist El Fog, and singer Natalie Beridze are just a few of the guests whose musical contributions illuminate the rich, deeply textural ambient set-pieces fashioned by Hior Chronik. Throughout this appealing collection, melodic, sometimes lullaby-like patches of piano, clarinet, vocals, and music box tinkles gently float o'ertop the dense masses Chronik shapes from processed clicks, hiss, and flutter.

Blowing winds and the crunch of footsteps through the undergrowth lend “She Wasn't Here” an outdoorsy dimension, even if the meditative piano and clarinet playing give the song an introspective, even hermetic quality that's more emblematic of indoor seclusion. Elsewhere, elegant piano playing by Zinovia Arvanitidi in the suitably titled “All Alone” perpetuates the meditative mood, an abundance of music box tinkles gives “Small Tree” a radiant sparkle, and Beridze's delicate voice murmurs languorously amidst the becalmed lull of “Still Foggy.” Though all of the guests leave their mark on the material, it's Doering who makes the strongest impression, in part because he appears on three of the album's dozen pieces but also because the timbral character of the clarinet stands out so vividly against the textural backdrop. Perhaps the album's loveliest piece is “Call,” which is distinguished less by the contributions of Nishimoto and Doering and more by the luscious piano, strings, and crystalline electronics that otherwise appear, though “Oper II,” which carves out a deeply seductive space of entrancing serenity in less than five minutes, is just as beautiful.

Though an autumnal character, not surprisingly, pervades the elegant, string-drenched pianistics of “Rainy Yellow Leaves on a Tree,” Hior Chronik's material is largely uplifting and serenading, and the album's sunlit spirit is also captured in song titles such as “Sparkles” and “You Are a Bright Star.” More soothing than unsettling, his is a warm and nostalgic music that perfectly complements the mü-nest aesthetic.

November 2011