Taking the Veil
Lucky is the artist whose work appears on the Kitchen. imprint. The latest beneficiary of the label's attention is Athens-born and current Berlin resident Hior Chronik, who began producing his expressive ambient-styled material a mere seven years ago. Taking The Veil is not, however, his first appearance on the label; instead, it's the follow-up to 2012's Vanishing Mirror, which he and classical pianist Zinovia Arvanitidi issued under the Pill-Oh name. As is so often the case with Kitchen. products, the new release is lavishly presented, in this case in a handsome CD-and-sixteen-page booklet combination (2000 copy edition). The visual narrative is rooted in the idea of young women whose inner thoughts and imagination are concealed from view—veiled, as it were—which in turn makes the women grow enigmatic and mysterious to those around them.
Chronik's an avid collaborator whose second solo album, Unspoken Words, includes appearances by Akira Kosemura and Dictaphone's Roger Doering and whose latest pushes the idea to an extreme, with all but one of its fifteen pieces featuring a guest on each track. Kindred spirits such as Field Rotation, Sophie Hutchings, Aaron Martin, Luup, and Japanese composers Yasushi Yoshida and Yoshinori Takezawa take part, and the fifty-minute recording is elevated by the vocal contributions of Amber Ortolano and Familiar Trees' Fabiola Sanchez on four songs.
Ortolano's sleepy recitation of the familiar nursery rhyme “London Bridges” provides a promising entry-point to the release, but it's “Nest of Autumn” (with Hutchings) that more clearly establishes Chronik's style when it presents a serenading blend of classical piano playing, electronic textures, and orchestral strings. A version of “Twice” by Swedish electronic band Little Dragon adds a subtle trip-hop twist to the album when Ortolano's laid-back singing appears alongside Chronik's sparkling backdrop, and Taking The Veil rises to a whole other level of enchantment when Sanchez adds her hushed voice to the strings-drenched meditation “Can You Hear.”
“Small Wonders” nurtures an affectingly plaintive mood in the way it threads lachrymose strings into its stately arrangement, and with delicate flute playing joined by piano and strings, “Cold Winter Morning” achieves a supple splendour despite the evocation of wintry chill. That “Simple is Beautiful” stands out as one of the album's most stirring classical-ambient settings won't come as a huge surprise to those acquainted with Field Rotation's own strings-heavy recordings, and you'd be forgiven for thinking of French composer Yann Tiersen (well-known for his soundtrack to Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain) when the waltz setting “We Are All Snowflakes” (with Takezawa) floods the room with all manner of light-hearted sparkle.
Each one of the fifteen settings plays like a miniature sound painting resplendent in colour and mood. Yet while obviously there are differences between them, they're unified by the ubiquity of acoustic piano playing and electronic treatments. With a little help from his friends, Hior Chronik once again shows himself to be a deft practitioner in the art of evocative ambient-electronic production.