Obsessive Surrealism, the latest CD by Parallel Worlds, is a synth lover’s dream.
The release is the fourth CD by Parallel Worlds, the first on the DIN label. We’ve been impressed by previous DIN releases, and Obsessive Surrealism is no exception. The CD is a dense blend of very electronic-sounding elements with very organic-sounding ones.
Parallel Worlds is the performing name for Greek musician Bakis Sirros. He’s been active in the Greek music scene for about 10 years, and has performed at a variety of electronic music events. He’s also collaborated with other musicians on other projects, including Interconnected (IDM) and Memory Geist (ambient/experimental).
Sirros’ music on this CD emphasisizes synthesis, using electronic gear and software to create new sounds and effects. His music is melodic and is very effective at creating various moods, but what really sets it apart is Sirros’ creative sound work.
Sirros puts a huge variety of gear to use, including: Doepfer A100 modular, Analogue Systems RS-Integrator modular, Technosaurus System D modular, modified EMS VCS-3 x2), ARP 2600, Odyssey, Roland System 100, System 100m, modified Oberheim 2-voice, Korg MS50, MS20, SQ10, Trident, PE1000, Analogue Solutions Concussor modular, modified TR606, Nord modular, JP8000, Microwave XT, MS2000R, S750, Emax 2, Korg ES1, Roland Space Echo, Korg SE500 and additional sound manipulators.
While this is an impressive gear list, Sirros appears to be most interested in wringing the most out of traditional synthesis. As a result, the music doesn’t sound like the result of intense studio editing, but more like he’s captured studio performances.
The music itself is pure synth music, leaning towards the dark ambient. It shares some elements with synth artists of the 70’s, but also with the work of contemporary synth music masters, like Robert Rich and Ian Boddy. The pieces are relatively short soundscapes that emphasize sequenced elements, along with synth-strings, “vocal” pads and quirky glitch percussion effects.
In addition to the creative sound design, Sirros makes very effective use of stereo space; listening to the CD on a set of monitors revealed the depth of the music’s range, while listening on earbuds highlighted a lot of creative stereo effects.
One of the highlights of the CD is the track Increasing Complexity. At its heart, it’s a simple melodic sequence on piano. Sirros treats the piano so that it’s muted and bathed in reverb, giving it an distant, underwater sound reminiscent of the piano effects on Brian Eno & Harold Budd’s collaborations. Over this, Sirros layers strange echoing birdlike noises, synthesized percussion effects, a sequenced bassline and evolving synth pads, building the piece to a dense jungle of sound. By the end, the piano fragment that holds things together has almost disappeared, leaving just the organic synth effects.
Another great track is Pale Yellow Sky. Like Increasing Complexity, the track uses a minimal melodic fragment as a framework for organizing a collection of uneasy sounds. Halfway through the track, the music dies down to almost nothing, focusing your attention on water-drip percussive effects, before building up again. Towards the end of the track, the melodic elements die out, leaving just drones, effects and ambience. Throughout, Sirros frequently shifts the focus of the music from background to foreground and back, highlighting the layers of creativity in the mix.
Parallel Worlds’ Obsessive Surrealism is full of very original sound design, but also makes effective use of synth music staples like sequences, synth-strings and vocal pads. The combination draws you quickly into the pieces, where the depth of the music’s quirkiness slowly reveals itself. Highly recommended.
You can preview Sirros’ music and download several tracks as free MP3s at the Parallel Worlds site.
- Beneath Fear ( 6.06 )
- Different Pathways ( 5.18 )
- Empty Human Cells ( 3.38 )
- Increasing Complexity ( 5.52 )
- Into the Caves of the Mind ( 4.50 )
- Interlude ( 2.09 )
- Reflective ( 9.32 )
- Mindmists ( 8.49 )
- Pale Yellow Sky ( 5.42 )
- Distracted ( 6.57 )
- Crying Spells ( 4.15 )
Total Time 63.29