Melorman CD of the Month

MelormanIf you thought the only electronic-based music coming out of Greece was from Yanni and Vangelis, then you haven’t been keeping up on a wave of electronic artists who are more plugged in to Boards of Canada’s textural melancholy than Yanni’s grandiose orchestrations. Melorman is one of those artists. That’s the parody-ready moniker of Antonis Haniotakis from Athens. He says the name refers to “melody” and “man.” He’s been at the electronic game for a few years now and his new CD, Waves, may be his signature work.

Like so many electronic artists, he’s a laptop jockey, conjuring up panoramic spaces and interior architecture on his computer. Unlike a lot of these artists, Melorman is more concerned with melody and mood than ear-bending sound design, though there is some of that as well. Each song on Waves builds like a spinning model of a molecule: melodies wrap around rhythms, cycling in counterpoint to other melodies, all against a shimmering borealis of sound.

The album begins like one of those old avant-garde electronic albums on CRI or Nonesuch, with a spare, dark, unmoored tone hanging in space, then illuminated by a doppler search light sweeping across it like it’s a submarine invading the waters.   It’s a subtle, almost meditative opening to Waves, which quickly shifts into “Glow” with a music-box minimalist sequence riveted to a glitch-tossed groove, all moving towards a slo-mo melodic crescendo.

Melorman dials-in chilled electronica with a post-rock sound in his rhythms that aligns him with artists like The Album Leaf and Tycho. But there are no conventional guitars or strings with Melorman: he’s resolutely electronic. Sounds ricochet against his syncopated rhythms then drop out into free space on “From Now On.” Melodies trace each other like fireflies in synchronous trajectories on “Lights.” Some of his works approach minor opus status, such as “Walking on Water” which shifts between a slow loping groove and free floating classical legatos wafting up into cathedral rafters.

Melorman has been compared to Boards of Canada, and while this might be sacrilegious to their acolytes, I find Waves more satisfying than BoC’s self-consciously abstracted Tomorrow’s Harvest. Melorman’s Waves flows as naturally as the surf and pulls you in with the most melancholy undertow.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

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