Mort Aux Vaches

Cover of Mort Aux Vaches

Novi_sad | Mort Aux Vaches

Composed by Novi_sad.

Recorded and produced by Berry Kamer and Maurice Woestenburg at VPRO, Amsterdam 20th February 2008.

Format : CD

Released by Staalplaat in an edition limited to 500 copies with exceptionally unique artwork, 3-panel silkscreened old cut vinyl records cover.

The voice that can be heard, is that of Bibi Andersson.

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


Vital weekly

From the somewhat forty-five minutes this new discs last, about eight minutes are totally silent. Since putting an excerpt of this in the Vital Weekly podcast, I have to transfer it to my computer and normalized (meaning make it zero DB) and noticed there is also actually music in there. Odd, why should it be so incredibly silent? If you would turn up your volume all the way up in those parts (three minutes at the beginning and five at the end) it would mean ripping your speakers apart in the middle part, when things become so much louder. A Lopezian take on dynamics, perhaps? Since this was recorded for a radio broadcast I am pretty sure these minutes were not broadcasted. Novi_sad from Greece is the youngest ‘star’ on the scene of microsonic, field recording and laptop artists, with a considerable profile, playing for instance the Gaudeamus music week here in The Netherlands (who hardly invite would invite a like minded Dutch artist I’d say) and works for Touch. And quite rightly so: what Novi_sad does, might not be entirely new (but then: who does?), but what he does he does with some excellence. Following his silent intro, there is an outburst of sea wave like noise sound for a while, which forms the absolute counterpoint of the silent intro. The middle part – of the part that actually can be heard – is a sort of organ like drone piece and in the closing part, the organ and the seaside meet up and make a brutal return of cascading sound. Before we leap into silence again, the organ makes the final fade out. Its microsonic in that respect that the changes in this piece are as minimal as they come, whereas the sound has a maximum output – when there is something to be heard of course. In that respect Novi_sad is not microsound at all: the music is loud and abrasive. A really great work, which brings a lot of delight here. Loud, soft, silence, noise, its all there and all brought with elegance and style. Excellent package also.

Sound Proector

One of the most interesting units in remarkable label Staalplaat is sublabel Mort Aux Vaches, releases of which have been already reviewed at Sound Proector for several times. Here the records for radio program Dwars are released in limited editions of 500-1000 copies. Each release is a live concert of a musician or a group of musicians – musicians who can’t be uninteresting. Recently in rather long and beautiful list of Mort Aux Vaches there was noticed a little known to us sound designer from the capital of Greece – Thanasis Kaproulias aka Novi_sad.

His record for VPRO is rather complicated – I even couldn’t make myself deepen into it while the first listening. I ran up, hit myself strongly over the monolithic sound wall and went off for pretty long distance. The thing is that one must find a comfortable place, tiny hole which will allow to pick off delicately a piece of the cover and soak into the dense body of sounds. It’s very important not to miss the first 2-3 minutes of almost total silence, when only hardly audible hissings can be heard. It’s the moment of entrance, the moment when one would think irreversible processes start increasingly happen. Hissings and sudden flashes of industrial crash develop into amorphous stream of abrasive noise, there lives something on the background, something unclear, indistinctive. As if suffering with agoraphobia I happened to get into a big city, inside human anthill, interlacing of streets and houses. Panic increases, it becomes stronger and up to the 24th minute of the record you suddenly feel – it started. You are running, running, suffocating, looking back, running, stopping, looking all around, turning left, moving faster again trying to move through the countless number of people – to the right, to the left, to the right again… People, there are hundreds, thousands of them around – going forward to you, pushing you from your back, shouting to telephones, coming into shops and coming out of them, looking straight at you, crying, smiling. Run, run, I must run and come somewhere, I must break away until the reality squashes me with its large-tonnage press. About 10 minutes of crazy pressing and it seems that you are ready to drill your head like Max Cohen from the unforgettable film “Pi” by Darren Aronofsky. Tiredness accumulates and it seems that everything is just about to end and it happens really so. It is like if you lost consciousness somewhere on the outskirts of a town – a hit after which you open you eyes and don’t feel what’s happened several seconds ago. Novi_sad lowers the noise stream, lets you breathe deeply and breathe out and dedicates the rest of the record to some kind of withdrawal – the sounds comes down slowly turning in the result into several minutes of slightly distinctive field records, made obviously on some hill not far away from a road. I sweated…


Greek musician Thanasis Kaproulias, better known as Novi_Sad, was asked to do a recording session for Dutch radio program VPRO Dwars. And as more often with these sessions this got suggested to Staalplaat for a release in the legendary “peel session” for the experimental music scene: Mort Aux Vaches. And as always you can directly recognize this as a real Mort Aux Vaches release: a tree panel sleeve made from old vinyl records.

A lot of the release in the Mort Aux Vaches series are sort of improvised or at least unpredictable and the same goes up with this one. Novi_Sad starts this release with slowly increasing sounds. The pulses grow and grow to the first climax of distorted drones. From these drones a psychedelic loop arises to take over. With very small changes you are lured into a mind trip of weird looped noises.

In the always evolving soundscape of analogue devices and probably field-recordings sometimes a voice appears, short samples from a film or speech. It is not possible to really place the words, but in the dense industrial noises it delivers a haunting feeling.

From what I know Novi_Sad is still a young musician, but the music does refer to music form the 80’s with the dark looping noises and the electro-acoustic additions. Not only is the industrial idea there, but also the dynamic changes as we known from Francisco Lopez. Even in the silent parts there is still music to be found when you crank up the volume enough.

Novi_sad delivered us a well deserved addition to the already impressive Mort Aux Vaches series. And as an introduction to his music for me it was a good surprise. Noisy though alluring.


The earliest parts of the performance are most inline with Gunter’s work, consisting of an extremely quiet hiss with microscopic textures that are almost psychoacoustic in their changes. It has a slow build in volume and texture, with shrill tones appearing extremely low in the mix, but still enough to be noticeable. Kaproulias’ penchant for shocking the listener is definitely here, as on his previous work, with an abrupt, violent clattering of field recorded noise crashing in unexpectedly. This appears as a loop, with the subsequent reprises being far less violent and jarring than the first.

The hiss continues under the clattering, which eventually rises into a rushing stream of white noise: a monochrome hiss that initially sounds like simply static, but slowly morphs into a complex composition of chaotic sound. Under the dissonance of the noise, tones that resemble a processed piano appear below the blanket of sound. Occasionally a rhythmic blast of destroyed digital sound comes up to act as a counterpoint to the more inviting tonal elements, but it never lasts for long.

The white noise cuts in and out in Kaproulias’ preferred style, eventually reappearing more as an apocalyptic swarm of locusts that swells into harsh stuttering noise, with the piano-like tones holding on for dear life amidst the end of the world chaos that surrounds it. Eventually it all relents, with the closing minutes mirroring the first moments of near silence, which left me on edge for another moment of jarring noise that never quite happened.

Novi_sad’s style obviously works in a live context, as it does in a more composed studio format. The overall structure is one that is more restrained and minimalist than what was showcased on his other releases, but it never feels overly limited or simplified at all. As usual, the label has packaged this radio performance in a unique way, this time in a digipak style fold-out made of recycled LPs, held together by the ubiquitous center pin. It has a cool appearance to it, and from the sound of other reviews, it’s not going to render the disc unplayable.


Das Staalplaat bisweilen auch bei der sonst sehr lobenswert ausstaffierten MOV-Reihe schwächeln, ist angesichts des bereits veröffentlichten Kosmos an überzeugenden Künstleraufnahmen nicht tragisch, allerdings vermittelt das sehr aufwendig aus alten Technovinylplatten gestanzte Cover plus Labelbedeckender Siebbedruckung doch schwerste solide Arbeit sowohl an CD-Aufmachung als auch am Klang.

Wohlan, zu meckern gibt es klangtechnisch nichts, aber man fragt sich nach spätestens 10 Minuten, welche Zitierungen Thanasis Kaproulias alias novi_sad an sein eigenes one-track-Werk gestellt hat. John Duncan? Mitnichten, das streng minimalistische Backgroundpfeifen welches auf der CD mittels Resonanzeffektes etwas angereichert wird, wäre von John Duncan so wohl nie über den Status einer Skizze hinausgekommen. Alva Noto’s Xerrox-Serie? Dafür zu plump und ungeschliffen. Herr Kaproulias spielt 50 Minuten leider ohne Bruchstelle gerade vier klassische Spratzel-/Noiseschleifen im Dauerloop, additionale Bearbeitung durch Laut/Leise-Gefälle exklusive. Das gerade dieser Beitrag eine solch solide Aufmachung erhält, lässt bei einem Label wie Staalplaat lediglich Wundern und Kopfschütteln bewirken. Aufmachung volle 5 Punkte, aber für die Musik entfällt diesmal die Wertung. Thema verfehlt auf ganzer Linie.

Blow up

Secondo album per Thanasis Kaproulias: una sola, lunghissima suite, che racconta una performance tenuta il 20 febbraio 2008 presso la radio olandese VPRO per il programma Dwars. Si tratta del secondo lavoro per il musicista ateniese, che per l’occasione abbandona i movimenti fluttuanti del precedente “Jaibirds” per immergersi fisicamente in un mare ondeggiante di noise e suoni modulati. La scelta precisa è quella di utilizzare per la quasi totalità suoni registrati, evitando almeno per la fase del campionamento la mediazione dei dispositivi digitali: field recordings, in particolare, raccolti in luoghi disparati di tre continenti ed impastati nella centrifuga di un suono che assai spesso si fa virulento e brutale. All’inizio è silenzio, un lungo silenzio che poi ritorna in chiusura (per un totale di 8 minuti su 47), dissolto all’improvviso da un muro impenetrabile di rumore. La traccia procede per microvariazioni tonali, nonostante l’aggressività e l’abrasività preponderante del suono: le striature droniche di un organo nella fase centrale trasfigurano nell’assalto industrial finale, prima del silenzio definitivo. Emergono qua e là nel magma incandescente relitti galleggianti di soundscape: field recordings, una voce, dei brevi sample da una conversazione, registrazioni analogiche. E’ la sottile legge dei cambiamenti dinamici (viene in mente Francisco López), regolata dal loop ipnotico che scandisce sotto la superficie per intero i movimenti della suite. Anche il silenzio finale è solo apparente, rotto da un flusso molecolare microscopico, flebile, praticamente impercettibile all’udito. Notevole il packaging, con un cartonato in tre pannelli incastonato delle parti di un vinile dissezionato. In edizione limitata.


The package is made of three thick layers of black vinyl, edged by a heavy fabric ribbon, fastened by the usual copper “pin”, the “centerpiece” of all Mort Aux Vaches releases. Our player starts and although we’re wearing our headphones and the volume is pumped to the maximum, all we can hear for about two minutes and forty-five seconds is a slight background rustle. We are then forced to tweak – many times – the software audio control because the emissions become progressively more intense, at first with slightly extended and penetrating signals, interspersed with granular audio emergencies, which are then dilated by amplified hums, ubiquitous and cyclical. In the forty-five minutes of the project – in the end – there were eight that were completely silent. The central part of this work – the one the human ear can hear – is instead marked by an organ-like but somewhat metallic drone, progressively “colonized” by cascading frequencies and gradually diminished several times, before the silence claims again its space, leaving us astonished at the impact and the brilliant composure of the plot.

The cookshop

After successful releases Thanasis Kaproulias was invited to the venerable VPRO Radio to perform a piece live, and unsurprisingly it has been released on the Staalplaat label for the rest of the world to hear. The single 47 minute track covers the composer’s sound as it is being refined, capturing elements of other artists such as Francisco López and Bernhard Günter, but still retaining an identity all his own.»

It’s not that hard to describe what Novi_sad does or even what it sounds like. He makes field recordings and messes them up, playing them so incredibly loud that they turn into giant walls of noise. He takes huge slabs of white noise, adds a little of the other colours that are out there and the aforementioned messed-up field recordings and, in the end, you can’t tell which is which. So let’s examine first how this particular release sounds like – Novi_sad’s entry to the Mort Aux Vaches series, which I’m sure most of you are familiar with.

It starts out really quietly with this lovely, static-like noise, but it’s – unlike regular static – rather beautiful and relaxing. As a matter of fact, you have to crank up the volume all the way in order to hear a thing, and then it gradually gets louder, until it gets really loud. At this point you have to either adjust the volume or be submerged to brutal aural torture for the rest of the time – a clear López-styled tactic. I have tried both ways and I must say that it indeed has to be listened to – irresponsibly – loud for maximum enjoyment, though you still may want to tone it down a bit. After a while a great circular loop settles in; the changes are minuscule but present and remind me a bit of ‘Looping Jane’ from Merzbow‘s Amlux but only better. The noise falls, and you hear some distant sounds of what may or may not be people talking in this great circular loop. There is some spoken word too, but the loop stays and does the López trick again, so you either have to readjust the volume or sense relief if you have been listening on almost full blast. The piece switches to a pure field-recording and right before the end, if listened closely, you can hear a rooster, which is just absurd.

What does it mean? Beats the hell out of me, really, but it’s better than both Amlux and the López stuff that I have heard before; it does have a distinct identity and it’s really a rather lovely piece of music. Perhaps the fact that I haven’t gotten the slightest bit of an idea as to what it is supposed to be… makes it so wonderful? The mystery, puzzlement and confusion. It is beautiful and it doesn’t make sense. Let’s just keep it at that and don’t make me start talking about the innocence of childhood or whatever, because I don’t believe in that stuff.

Posted November 7, 2009 in