Review by Michael Flynn
Manos Achalinotopoulos began to study the clarinet from an early age. On this album he incorporates the mastery of that instrument with traditional music of Greece, jazz and to my ears the Balkans as well. Achalinotopoulos combines his fine musical talents here with New Zealand’s most frequently performed composer John Psathas, whose own Greek heritage shines through here, adding some warmth with his loops and sequencing to these compositions. There are seven pieces on the album, each one a journey of discovery. The plaintive calling from his lonesome sounding instrument soars on the opening track Heliotrope. The reedy Dragonlake with Tim Prebble’s synth evokes a desolate landscape, a dreary one I have to add. The album changes moods considerably with Iris Flight. Oliver Holland’s tasteful contribution on bass and Steve Garden on drums fit well here on this beautiful composition. Overall it’s a fine album and a worthy addition to the Rattle catalogue.
Review by William Dart
This inspirational Greek musician captivated an almost capacity Auckland Town Hall with his clarino solos in John Psathas’s New Zeibekiko. Psathas name features prominently on the Achalinotopoulos's new Rattle recording, seven stories narrated by one clarinet, each in a continuous stream through the uncharted territories of the unconscious. Achalinotopoulos's highly rhapsodic clarinet solos have been complemented by electronic back-drops by Psathas, Tim Prebble, David Downes and Steve Garden in a recording that should find a wide and rapturous response. On Iris Flight, the Greek clarinet player is complemented by a group of Greek and New Zealand musicians mostly on percussion, with Chris Mason-Battley on soprano sax and Olivier Holland on acoustic bass. What appeals here for me are more varied musical elements, harmonic layering and propulsive rhythms even if the drumkit might seem a little dominating for some. The final understated bass solo from Holland provides a memorable playout.
The poetry of light. My light - inside and beyond. Spirit. Breath. Inspiration. I flew the uncharted territories of the unconscious, one clarinet narrating seven stories, each in a continuous stream - in one breath. Not limited by the barriers of pattern, form or style, this journey was a flight on light, with no predetermined or conventional course. My teachers were whispers, lulls and silence, as were the diffractions, reflections, colourations, and luminance of light, which I tasted, created, touched and was touched by.
In the ocean of my childhood I imagined horizons from above, with clouds below and the air light and sparse. Here, at night, the galaxy lowers, the wind comes close, and the stars are like an endless river. All is translucent, penetrated by splendour and sweet flesh, where we become light, open and real.
In that translucent silence, everything is delightful and humble, but wild at the same time. Nothing artificial or false echoes there; it drowns. Only that which has breath – has spirit – survives, like a flute, a clarinet, a fife, or whatever is uniquely itself. Here, the wind is your teacher, and silence is harmony.
This fragrance of light, this breath from beyond, this is what my lonely clarinet seeks to taste. This is the truth it carries, that it struggles to colour and sculpt, out of the belief that everything related to the inner world and to the beyond communicates, that the worlds outside and inside us function for each other, that each is an expression of the other. So may my blemishes be forgiven, and may any flood of light or iridescence that radiates here be considered a shared offering.
From my heart, I thank all the important composers, musicians and sonic artists who, I acknowledge, have complimented my performances with creativity and precision. Special thanks to John Psathas - a great champion for music.
RAT-D021 (April, 2011)
Heliotrope (Achalinotopoulos, Psathas) 7:52
Dragonlake (Achalinotopoulos, Prebble) 5:03
Crystalline Athos (Achalinotopoulos, Downes) 5:17
Iris Flight (Achalinotopoulos, Garden, Psathas) 7:39
Antara (Fog) (Achalinotopoulos, Psathas) 8:53
Morning Aura (Achalinotopoulos, Prebble) 4:50
Horizon Of Remembrance (Achalinotopoulos, Garden) 2:59