Inhumane Humans

Cover of Inhumane Humans

Novi_sad | Inhumane Humans

Listen to a sample from Srebrenica

Based on field recordings from insects, cicadas, rivers and storms in the entire area of Ancient Olympia, Greece. Also used were sounds from morse signals and barn doors. The female voice that can be heard is from a woman who has been raped repeatedly while pregnant during the civil war in Bosnia. The Srebrenica massacre has been considered as the biggest genocide after the 2nd world war. She is speaking in front of some psychologists describing her experience.

Listen to a sample from Aircraft Noises

‘Aircraft Noises’ is a simplified stereo mix of ‘Silence, Aircarft Noises and Harmonies in Pain’, a project designed to be presented through Ambisonics soundsystem. The aircraft sounds have been recorded in flights through Canada, Europe, and the United States. Air Canada, Lufthansa and Delta Airlines are some of the flying companies who have been gently audio hijacked. War aircrafts landings and taking offs are from war airports in Greece.

- Format : cd

- Composed and mixed by Novi_sad

- Recorded and produced in Athens and Ancient Olympia, Summer 2008

- Mastered by Novi_sad at the Center for Composers in Gotland, Sweden, October 2008

- Released by Sub Rosa in an edition limited to 700 copies and housed in a 4 pages digipack

Reviews:

Creaig Dunton, Brainwashed

After a few well received discs, the latest work of Greek composer Thanasis Kaproulias comes courtesy of Sub Rosa’s New Series Framework project, expanding on the careful (and not so careful) use of raw noise in composition. Kaproulias is definitely on the careful end of that spectrum, restraining layers of harsh noise at times to allow calmer, more ambient moments to shine through, all the while exploring the concept of inhumanity from multiple perspectives.

“Srebrenica” initially uses the theme to showcase sounds without human interference. Opening with quiet field recordings from the ruins of Olympia in Greece, there are only the sounds of crickets, cicadas, and rivers to be heard. Then, detached and fragmented Morse code can be heard, bringing with them a dense, fuzzy drone that almost sounds like a guitar. A sinister, ominous feeling slowly develops, exacerbated by sharp, abrupt sounds of barn doors creaking and slamming, as the wind would do in a world without people.

The piece reaches a peak when harsh digital noise starts to creep in, at first slowly but eventually dominates the mix. As it is going on, recorded conversations of a woman discussing her experiences being raped during the Bosnian civil war are heard, putting forth a decidedly different, more disturbing example of inhumanity that is punctuated with the dissonant roar. Eventually the noise pulls away, revealing only the pastoral recordings from before.

“Aircraft Noises” is a literal title for the second piece, a mixed-down version of a multichannel installation performance. There’s no subtlety to be heard in the opening moments: a sprawling field of high end digitally compressed noise is heard, though propelled by some semblance of a rhythmic structure that could purely be a figment of my imagination. The sound frequency is expanded, bringing in lower, less compressed sounds that are more identifiable as a jet engine.

This is eventually pushed into the world of pure harsh noise walls, layer upon layer of distorted engine noise that drowns out all around it, until samples of flight safety recordings in various languages occur, pre-recorded and disembodied voices telling passengers what to do during a crash in a juxtaposition of human and synthetic. All the while, beeps from in-flight intercoms are miraculously shaped into a bizarre melodic accompaniment, and the piece ends with shrill buzzes and fighter jets passing over a military airport.

Again, Kaproulias expertly balances the use of noise and ambience with a flair for drama and tension. I’m personally impressed with the way the disc utilizes raw, wall noise approaches without succumbing to the temptation to simply shred speakers, but instead convey beauty as well as aggression. It also bounces dynamically between quiet and loud moments, and not simply focusing on jarring transitions. While the two pieces on here are thematically linked, they do feel somewhat disparate in their approach and the result is what feels like two separate works rather than one unified one. Not that it’s a problem, as both stand strongly on their own, but it’s a caveat that should be acknowledged.

Frans de Waard, Vital weekly

Sub Rosa has a new series called Framework, “A brand new mix-up of unusual conceptions of sound material by young unknown composers, well known not-so-young composers and old but clever composers.” I guess Novi_sad (Thanasis Kaproulias) is young and known, via his releases on Staalplaat and Touch. Two pieces here, ‘Srebrenica’ and ‘Aircraft Noises’.

The latter is build from noises from aircrafts – duh – and was a piece for multi-speaker systems. Quite a loud piece of machine noises and in flight talking on a level that you just can’t hear them, gives the impression that you are inside the motor of an airplane. I guess its alright, but perhaps also a bit too simply in approach.

Of more interest is the piece ‘Srebrenica’ which deals with field recordings from ancient Olympia, morse signals, barn doors and a female voice speaking about being raped during the war in Bosnia. That voice doesn’t seem to have a big role and its hard to decipher. But the collage/montage approach of all those sound sources, along with a five minute noise height (from fifteen to twenty minutes) make this a highly dramatic piece of music. The noise bit is essential I guess, but not well spend on me.

The whole is quite nice, but not the best I heard from Novi_sad. The two pieces are nice at its best, but both a bit long for what it is and surely could have been shorter and more effective, making room for an additional piece with perhaps less noise but equally dramatic.

Ron Schepper, Textura

Aside from the recording’s suggestive title, the first clue that this new work from Greek composer Thanasis Kaproulias (aka Novi_sad) will be more provocative than usual comes from the fact that it’s released as part of Sub Rosa’s New Series Framework. Recorded and produced in Athens and Ancient Olympia during the summer of 2008, Inhumane Humans presents two field-recorded soundscapes of dramatically contrasting character, the first a harrowing setting whose thematic focus concerns the Srebrenica genocide and the second a powerful setting assembled from aircraft-associated sounds.

Based on field recordings made in the Ancient Oympia area in Greece, “Srebrenica” begins as a peaceful portrait of the natural world, dominated as it is by a wealth of cicada chirps and rumbling sounds that issue forth during its initial moments. But five minutes into the twenty-six-minute setting, the mood grows considerably darker when a metallic drone appears, gradually building in strength and volume as it’s peppered by blips of Mose Code-like design, abrasive tearing noises, and the violent creak and clatter of barn doors. Just before the halfway mark, a human presence surfaces in the form of a woman’s speaking voice and screams (amplifying the unsettling tone of the material even more, the female voice is of a woman who was raped repeatedly while pregnant during the Bosnian civil war and who is recounting her experiences to psychologists). As if to push the nightmare to an entirely new level of intensity, a brutalizing blast of digital noise suddenly appears, burying all other sounds within a cyclonic mass until they’re all but inaudible. That wave eventually subsides, allowing the submerged elements to once again reassert themselves though now scarred by the ordeal.

Using aircraft sounds recorded during flights through Canada, Europe, and the United States (or, as Kaproulias wrly notes, Air Canada, Lufthansa, and Delta Airlines were some of the companies who were “gently audio hijacked” for the piece), “Aircraft Noises” roars at a loud pitch from its opening moment, with the total sound suggestive of multiple aircraft layers having been melded into a seething, rippling mass. Other sounds filter in—the bleep of a seat-belt signal, the booming transmission of flight safety instructions, and war aircrafts taking off and landing at war airports in Greece—to add more sonic bricks to an already immense wall. The piece remains at that unrelenting pitch for its full thirteen-minute run yet never crosses the line to become harsh and unpleasant. Though by no means easy listening, both works follow clearly delineated, even conventional trajectories in their narrative arcs and consequently hold together despite their combustible character, but even more notably, Novi_sad has created in the pieces—“Srebrenica” especially—soundscape worlds never before encountered.

Katie English, Fluid Radio

As part of Sub Rosa’s ongoing New Series Framework project comes Inhumane Humans, the latest release from Thanasis Kaproulias’ solo project Novi_sad…

Opening track ‘Srebrenica’ contrasts the gently hypnotic sounds of nature against more antagonistic man-made sounds. We are greeted by the gentle chirrup of insects before an unsettling rumbling creeps in, disrupting the previous calm. Gradually the man-made elements begin to appear; a morse signal, a harsh intermittent buzzing all flitting throughout the soundscape. All momentarily die away to reveal a guitar drone, unflinching throughout the interruptions of morse signal and the return of the underlying bass rumble. Abrasive jolts of static appear from nowhere, tearing through the meditative nature of the drone.

Despite all of Kaproulias’ field recordings for this piece being made in Athens and Olympia, the title and subject matter comes from the 1995 massacre on the Bosnian village of Srebrenica. The fragmented vocal we hear is that of a rape victim describing her experience to a psychologist; she was pregnant at the time of the attack and her panicked voice and fragmented screams against the ever increasing intensity of the soundscape make for difficult listening. The woman’s screams are echoed by a distorted guitar, the morse signal becomes more rhythmic as though forming a repeated cry for help while the guitar drone continues, relentlessly.

The shorter ‘Aircraft Noises’ consists of numerous recordings made on flights throughout Europe, Canada and the US as well as war planes taking off and landing at airports in Greece. As a modified version of previous installation work ‘Silence, Aircarft Noises and Harmonies in Pain’, ‘Aircraft Noises’ feels a much more considered work with more dynamic variation allowing space for individual sounds to come through. The slowly shifting tones and rhythmic pulse lend an underlying urgency to the layered field recordings.

Personally I don’t find this a pleasant listen; there are some interesting ideas at work but ultimately it falls short of the potential of such a premise. The intensely moving story behind ‘Srebrenica’ gets somehow lost within the formula, the woman’s voice becoming just another nameless field recording buried under an onslaught of noise. Having said that, with a title such as Inhumane Humans there is little surprise that this isn’t exactly a joyful album and within the realms of noise-based field recording work Novi_sad certainly delivers.

Aurelio Cianciotta, Neural

Thanasis Kaproulias, using the moniker Novi_sad, questions the intimate structure of environmental sounds created with a hypothetical “sculptural integrity” in mind. The artist presents auditive articulations whose essences somehow seem to precede the listening experience. The ear follows the intrinsic placement of the elements, which are marked by the characteristics of the places from where the sounds were “captured”. Samples of insects, cicadas, rivers and storms (recorded in the area of ancient Olympia in Greece) make up “Srebrenica”, the first of the two tracks of Inhumane Humans, a score interspersed with Morse signals and a female voice, the sad testimony of a woman repeatedly raped while pregnant during the civil war in Bosnia. The background of “Aircraft Noises” is populated by shrill and manipulated samples of aircraft engines, sounds recorded on both commercial and military flights, weaved together to produce a high tone density that is imbued with additional inserts and powerful cacophonies. The album is full of hard conjunctions, omens perhaps, that generate a distorted perception of “almost human” sounds.

Fabrice Allard, EtherREAL

On les confondrait presque. En voyant arriver cet album de Novi_sad chez Sub Rosa, sur le coup on pensa à Novisad,le projet de Kristian Peters croisé chez Tomlab ou Flau. Mais musicalement, rien à voir. Novi_sad est le projet du grec Thanasis Kaproulias, auteur d’une musique plus abstraite, aride, déjà publié chez Touch ou Mort aux Vaches. Comme le Black Swan de Cristian Vogel dont nous parlions le mois dernier, Inhumane Humans fait partie de New Series Framework, une série dédiée aux expérimentations actuelles.

Ce nouvel album de Novi_sad est composé de deux longues pièces aux rendus très différents. La première, intitulée Srebrenica, annonce assez clairement la couleur… Tout commence dans le calme, on imagine une nuit étoilée, le chant des insectes, le bruissement du vent dans les branches, le crépitement de la pluie, quelques bleeps de machines qui sont en fait des signaux de morse. Et puis une texture s’élève, un drone électronique parfois interrompu par quelques déchirures numériques, bruitages rustiques, puis une voix et des cris dont on ne vous révélera pas ici l’origine. À partir de cet instant, le drone explose, se froisse en une texture bruitiste de toute beauté, qui ravira les amateurs d’ambient-noise. Et puis comme si de rien n’était, petit à petit la vie reprend son cours. Le bruit cesse, le calme revient avec ce drone linéaire, puis les oiseaux, l’apaisement.

Étonnamment, Aircraft Noises, malgré son titre, est nettement plus apaisé. La texture qui ouvre cette deuxième piste est plus étouffée, moins puissante, et elle peux évoquer tour à tour le bruit d’un moteur ou une radio ne captant aucun signal. Petit à petit c’est un souffle ronronnant qui s’immisce, nous invitant dans la cabine d’un avion avec ces voix faisant part des consignes de sécurité aux voyageurs. De ces bruits nait une mélodie, aussi étonnante qu’inattendue, belle et lancinante, régulièrement ponctuée de déflagrations provoquées par des avions de chasse. L’ambiance est alors étrange, entre immobilisme et vitesses vertigineuses, entre pur bruitisme et apaisement d’une mélodie répétitive et entêtante.

Deux pièces de 25mn et 13mn, très différentes, mais tout aussi captivantes, chacune à leur manière. Le genre de disque dont l’atmosphère ne laisse pas indifférent, contrasté, à la fois douce et violente. Un artiste que l’on aimerait croiser un peu plus souvent !!

Posted January 30, 2011 in