Spyweirdos, John Morjopoulos and Floros Floridis: Epistrophy at Utopia
Ad Noiseam

On this Ad Noiseam departure, Spyweirdos (Athens, Greece-based Spyros Polychronopoulos) joins hands with jazz musicians John Mourjopoulos and Floros Floridis for an unusual mix of jazz, lounge, glitch, and funk. The trio pays tribute to jazz giant Thelonious Monk and electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott on two songs: Monk's bop classic “Epistrophy,” with its familiar acoustic bass ostinato and theme (here voiced by clarinet, not piano) front and center, receives a glitch-funk makeover, while “Raymond Bound (By His Own Loops)” is a swinging romp that sounds like it hails from an even earlier era, something like Duke Ellington's Blanton-Webster band of the early ‘40s.

Elsewhere, the trio opts for more restrained fare: “Ethnic Music Cleansing,” a slinky cocktail that mixes breakbeats with acoustic bass wobble, horn samples, and bluesy jazz piano; “At,” a brooding mood piece that mixes bass clarinet meander with simmering electronic broil; and “Wet House (Empty Houses with Dripping Taps)” where high-pitched glassy tones segue into a lounge-like episode whose wooziness is intensified by samples of Ravel's La Valse. “The Letter After Omega” ends the album (not including a hidden track by Gyro Gyro) on a downtempo note by layering breathy bass clarinet playing and moody jazz chords over a pitter-pattering glitch base.

It's certainly a pleasing enough project and fairly unique too in its fusion of jazz and electronics. If anything, Epistrophy at Utopia would benefit from more of the be-bop fire stoked in “Epistrophy” (tunes by Charlie Parker and Miles Davis interspersed amongst the existing pieces, for example) with a corresponding de-emphasis on meandering mood settings (e.g., “Utopia”) that only lightly swing.

July 2008