Cover of Jailbirds

Novi_sad | Jailbirds (sedcd053)

Operated and formed by Novi_sad, November 2006-May 2007.

Released by Sedimental in an edition limited to 500 copies and housed in plastic-free gatefold sleeves with spine, art design by cs.

Format : CD

“Jailbirds” is a work of highest quality and a truly unique vision with a significant multiplicity in its action on the listener. It is a density of sound, acting in three-dimensions, not as auditory sound effect, but as music with depth both physically and in functionality. Its intensity and purposefulness based in specific conceptual foundations and enhanced by a mastery (and transcendence) of technical means.

€17 EUR | $20 USD | ¥2,200 JPY (worldwide free shipping)


Vital weekly

The fastest rising star in the world of microsound might be Novi_sad, being on Thanasis Kaproulias. He has a damn fine debut CD ‘Misguided Heart Pulses, A Hammer, She, And The Clock’ (see Vital Weekly 611), and his work has been on TouchRadio and soon a release in the ‘Mort Aux Vaches’ series.

The attraction of his music lies, I think, in the combination of microsound and dark ambient music. There are the cracks and hisses of micro world, but also the thunderous deep ambient drones which can be top heavy, like in the opening ‘Komdu! Hvert?’. Field recordings, the call of the birds, leak through here, as the deep bass dies out very slowly for the rest of duration of the song.

‘Torched Estates’ starts out with some nasty high pitched sounds, but throughout the pieces moves into various heights and depths, and it strikes me that this is the more complex piece of the two on this release. Many heavily processed field recordings are present, but then also sometimes naked and pure.

Whereas the first is built around one theme, is the second piece more a collage of various moods and textures. Quite loud microsound altogether, and thus a strong break with tradition.

Great one.


On his second full-length release, this young Greek composer continues refining his technique of meshing abrasive electronic noises, pure digital drones, and field recordings into small audio ethnographies that are more than happy to make jarring, unexpected transitions.

Consisting of two 20 minute pieces, the first half, ‘Komdu! Hvert?’ is the more subtle and simple of the two tracks. Opening with quiet rushing water that gradually and gradually increases in intensity, it is met early on by a deep pulsing bass tone that can definitely cause pain at higher volumes.

This slowly transitions into a whistling track of white noise, the bass thump replaced with a droning low end tone, slowly being met with looping found sound elements and other indecipherable textures. Eventually sheets of shimmering tones and chirping birds become the focus of the track, a more ambient and lighter resolution to a dark beginning. The piece closes with a high-tension line like hum and the sound of crickets, a perfect metaphor for the combination of organic and synthetic presented here.

‘Torched Estates’ is, in comparison, simultaneously more complex and dissonant. It begins with sheets of rain that get louder and louder as a high frequency emergency tone cuts through the mix, which is painful enough before a swelling of digital noise becomes the focus, all culminating into a violent quick digital squelch before falling away, leaving an eardrum numbing bass note.

This constant rumbling eventually enshrouds a subtle bit of static and clicking that stays consistent, eventually allowing layers of analog lo-fi noise to come in and command attention. While it begins to resemble a harsh noise recording in intensity, dynamically it stays sparse enough to allow the subtleties to be heard, rather than just violently commanding attention. It ends with the emergency type tones that opened the track, the sound of a typewriter, and eventually a shrill, tinnitus inducing tone that would make Ryoji Ikeda proud.

While still a young composer, Thanasis Kaproulias is already establishing himself as a powerful and innovative artist in this field of experimental music. His attention to detail is especially noteworthy, as is his use of pure electronic as well as organic found sounds in unison. I foresee Novi_sad being regarded as among the top experimentalists in the very near future.


Novi_sad’s second album features two tracks that are rather extreme in their approach, but with patience offer a lot.

The record company describes his music as follows:”What is significant in his work is the multiplicity of its action on the listener. It is a density of sound, acting in three-dimensions, not as auditorysound effect but as music with depth both physically and in functionality. Its intensity and purposefulness based in specific conceptual foundations and enhanced by a mastery (and transcendence) of technical means collapses amplified environmental recordings, drone manipulations, structured ambient soundscape, microtones and overtones into unified whole.”

I think that is quite aptly described. There are two tracks on this disc. The first is a fine slowly evolving track. Starting with the sound of a streaming river, which is soon accompanied by the bass drone of a ship’s motor. After some time this bass is subsided in favour of more harmonic, tonal basses, though not as deep as the motor. There’s also a hissy quality. The blending of the first into the second and then into the third part is quite well paced. Slowly higher pitches are added and then we hear nature sounds on top of the harmonies. This continues for about 18 minutes when suddenly everything stops and we hear “Komdu! Hvert” a couple of times. This conversation was recorded from the Islandic movie “Noi Albinoi”. Then the motor kicks in again and continues for a couple of minutes. Quite a strange movement in the final part. I don’t see the connection but in a way I don’t mind that, either.

The second work is only a bit shorter than the first one (19’40”). It starts with trees which are swept by gusts of wind. Now it’s high pitch which accompanies the field recording. Then these to die down quickly to be replaced by a 100 hz humm. This humm is overlayed with sparse high pitch ticks which become more present in due time. The bass slowly becomes less audible and the ticks are left alone. A nasty hiss and higher pitched noise enters, the ticks leave and again field recordings come up. This time it sounds like a filtered recording of a pneumatic hammer.

In a way this could all be a dream. Or perhaps a soundtrack to it. But, especially track 2 has all the qualities to accompany a nightmare. Like the previous release of Novi_Sad this is expressive material but it could do with more balance. Or perhaps more unbalance; yet more abrupt changes. On the one hand there are these clear cuts (from drone into sudden silence) but there are also the slow fade-outs and fade-ins which tell a different story.

Blow up

Chi avesse rovistato con pazienza negli ultimi mesi tra i podcast di Touch Radio, avrà probabilmente avuto la ventura di imbattersi in una criptica e spartana pièce per field recordings ed elettronica trattata, delicatamente assemblata con materiali ambientali di provenienza disparata (Lago Mamori in Amazzonia, Olimpia, ponte dell’ Øresund) a nome Novi_sad, al secolo Thanasis Kaproulias da Atene. Già in nuce in quel primo abbozzo, i prodromi di “Jailbirds“, fugace ed estrosa fabula per immagini (un piccolo e delizioso saggio di “cinema pour l’oreille“, per parafrasare Michel Chion), si chiarificano via via nei termini di un incessante labor limae che trae linfa dalla ricerca di un equilibrio quasi miracoloso tra parcellizzazione del suono e dominio della sostanza dronica, tra microsuoni e registrazioni d’ambiente, tra processing e nuda materia acustica, tra fisicità ed astrazione. Nelle transizioni tra fasi più abrasive e momenti di stasi aleggia l’eleganza di un movimento sinuoso, che trova piena compiutezza nel dominio totale della scala delle graduazioni cromatiche del suono e nella sua profondità avvolgente. Insomma, un must. Annoverare Thanasis tra i personaggi emergenti della scena elettronico-sperimentale ventura sarebbe leggerezza imperdonabile: troppo facile capire che l’uomo è già davanti a noi.

The Squid’s ear

Neophyte Thanasis Kaproulias combines microtones and overtones with drones, field recordings, and ambient textures with engaging rigor. Nothing is overly accented, and no single element commands attention. Instead, the clammy oppressive grayness of tone that animates the album opener rubs acquiescent shoulders with the shivers and twitches of the digital tones, placed with forensic precision, while processed field recordings whisper in the distance, darting between dark sub-bass pulses.

In the rasping microtones and the general gurgle and gargle of some of the textures, elements of mimicry factor heavily into this imposing and rich opening twenty-minute composition, but Kaproulias blends and transcends these modes in “Torched Estates”, the second and final chapter in this work. As with the first piece, it is austere but tactile, spartan but deliciously immersive, yet in a stronger sense it gathers and recedes, creeping through cavernous digital spaces, periodically lit up by evanescent skeins of sound that rustle and shrink away in convincing manners. At just under twenty minutes, this second work seems self-sufficient, and Kaproulias is thus able to settle into marking his own time, alert, poised, and aware. Within this framework, each sound is given just enough time and space to develop its own dynamic. The end result is a robust and powerful accumulation of effects.

Just Outside

Novi_sad is Thanasis Kaproulias, a youngster from Greece. He apparently has three prior releases of which I’m unaware but my interest has been piqued, to say the least. Two cuts of 20 or so minutes, the first a marvelous combination of field recording and dronescape (yes, in that sense, not a new approach to be sure, except this sounds like nothing I’ve heard recently), with elements gradually emerging along its flow, including some seriously deep bass throbs, ending surprisingly with snatches of Icelandic film dialog. Really good and rich, great track.

The second takes a very different tack and is almost as successful. Much harsher up front, with some piercing wails and an abrupt, cracking explosion, it settles into a beguiling rhythm of soft sparks over a monotone hum. About halfway through, he shifts to a grainy, complex rumble that, while enticing on its own, somehow I hear as losing a bit of focus. Still, not a bad ride. Listeners who have enjoyed work from the Asher/Richard Garet end of the spectrum (like me) should certainly hear this.

Musique Machine

Jailbirds is the third album by Greek born sound artist and mood setter Thanasis Kaproulias & it that finds him offering up two lengthy- but utterly engrossing tracks that mix together field recordings, drone matter and emotional charged noise texturing.

First up we have the cryptically entitled Komdu! Hvert? which drifts into ones audio space with over lapping layers water movement that’s soon joined by owl hoots and a growing and strange almost stuck pummelling like tone; with Kaproulias building all three elements into strange haunted yet intense vibe. But just when you think you have the track tied down he cut’s out the field recordings and drifts into a pressing and brooding drone build that at first feels quite foreboding, but as he adds back in new field recording elements like spring bird song, fire crunch, etc- it seems to take on a graceful and harmonic edge yet still slightly uneasy edge.

And finally we have Torched Estates which one more starts out once more with an aquatic field recording element, but this time it’s the sound of the sea coming up a peddled beach. To this over-lapping and seemingly deeping layer of seashore sound Kaproulias adds a growing and piercing tone that suddenly burst into a noise break before dropping into oppressive tone hold. The rest of the track finds him building up roaring tone manipulation, water rush and metallic reeling field recordings that are later touched by harmonic yet sad music box’s drone drifts. Again it’s as compelling, strange and other sounding as the first track.

Jailbirds wonderful sit’s in it’s own very distinctive place between sound art, drone matter and emotional noise out pouring. Yet another highly original and emotional charged work released by the rather wonderful Sedimental label.

Paris Transatlantic

Though Thanasis Kaproulias is based in Athens, several hundred miles south of the Serbian city that he’s chosen as his moniker, my trusty (?) Wiki page informs me that “novi sad” means “new furrow”, and that’s a fair description of the two impressively crafted pieces on offer on Jailbirds. The field – contemporary electronica – isn’t new, but Kaproulias is certainly ploughing it his own way, and it makes a welcome change from the all-too predictable fare that seems to be flooding the market (or at least flooding my mail box) at the moment. Nosing about further online, I see that Kaproulias’s music is “published by Touch Music”, which figures – his skilful blend of natural and man/machine-made sounds (hooting owls meet digital static scree) and discreet use of recognisable harmonic and rhythmic material (yes, there are subtle bass lines and backbeats lurking in there, if you care to investigate) make him an ideal labelmate for the likes of Oren Ambarchi, Rosy Parlane, Biosphere and BJNilsen. But while we wait for a full length follow-up to the TouchRadio piece Dramazon, Sedimental’s got in there first this time (Rob Forman’s always had a knack for finding exciting new talent – Kaproulias joins recent discoveries Riccardo Dillon Wanke and Kyle Bobby Dunn). What’s particularly impressive about this music is its ability to move across the map, from subtle field recordings to brutal blasts of harsh noise, sometimes gradually, sometimes suddenly, but always convincingly. Impressive work from a name to watch out for in years to come.

Posted October 31, 2008 in