Socos: Hyperythmique Analogue
Triple Bath

Hyperythmique Analogue, Socos' debut solo album, remains captivating throughout its forty-two-minute duration, despite the fact that the Athens, Greece artist Nikos Sokos performs it using nothing but guitar. Whether finger-picking furiously (heard especially memorably in “Hyperythmique Analogue Pt 2”) or hitting the instrument's body to generate percussive accents, Socos unquestionably shows himself to be a guitar virtuoso. But the album isn't about grandstanding: it's the compositional caliber of the album's five pieces that impresses most, and Socos deploys his formidable playing abilities in service to that compositional dimension. If they are improvisations (as accompanying notes suggest), he must have mapped out fairly clearly their respective trajectories beforehand.

Socos demonstrates an effortless mastery of mood, dynamics, and tempo throughout; with the utmost ease, he slows a piece down and subdues it to a near whisper, then abruptly revives it with an aggressive, accelerating attack. In the long central piece, the fourteen-minute “Vis-à-Vis,” he follows delicate classical strums with violently plucked chords before an amazing penultimate section finds intricate strums catapulting the piece forward until the contemplative earlier passage reappears to again establish calm. Abetted by subtle digital manipulations that help slice and stretch the guitar's notes, Socos alternates between microsound levels and violent flourishes in “Cataleptique,” while his graceful rendering of “Louise Michel” closes the album in a spirit of Renaissance-styled elegance. His artful modulation of volume and intensity is heard to great effect during “Hyperythmique Analogue Pt 1” when its spidery, shimmering strums advance and recede, occasionally punctuated by loud knocks. Triple Bath describes Hyperythmique Analogue as “experimental-improvisational, solo classical guitar” but the album's appeal easily extends beyond a circle of prototypical guitar fanatics.

December 2007