Christina Vantzou ‘No.1’ – album review

Christina Vantzou ‘No.1’ (Kranky Records KRANK159)
CD / DL
Available now

One of the joys of being given the opportunity to review music is your exposure to new artists, and often to genres of music that you may not be that familiar with;

Christina Vantzou is a case in point;

Vantzou is a US artist, musician, and composer. She was born in Kansas City, and studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore (1997-2001) before moving to Europe in 2003 and settling in Brussels.
Christina is known for her work with The Dead Texan as well as in a variety of creative mediums including video, drawing, and animation. After various collaborations and a short spell as a touring member, (video maker) of Sparklehorse in the summer of 2007, Vantzou began composing the music for this album.

She apparently worked in isolation over a three year period using synthesizers, samples, and her voice. Then, a long distance collaboration with Minna Choi, director of the Magik*Magik Orchestra transformed the sprawling 45 minute single track into a score for a 7 piece orchestra. The recording finally taking place over a two day session with Magik*Magik at TIny Telephone studios in San Francisco. The album was finally mixed in Brussels with production assistance from Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie (Stars of the Lid).

”˜No. 1′ is a true work of beauty ”“ this album needs to be played in a complete session, as each piece is organically linked to the next ”“ these are movements built around a synthesizer with layer after layer of celestial strings flowing across each piece. The strings at time nudge into drones, though perfectly controlled and quite mesmerising, as the music organically builds, Vantzou’s voice swamped in echo.

Each composition evokes an array feelings and emotions ”“ contemplation, space, solitude, melancholy, openess, crisp snow – perhaps an Arctic tundra; the cinematic musical accompniment to a lone Artic fox in solitude fighting for survival ”“ this should have been soundtrack to David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet.

As stated Vantzou also works as a visual artist, her YouTube channel currently holds offers two accompanying video clips – “Homemade Mountains” and “Prelude for Juan,” ”“ if possible the tracks should be consumed as an audio visual experience, in entirety – it certainly enhances an already flawless release, quite why Kranky have not put out an enhanced CD is beyond me.

While these works certainly orbit in the same musical galaxy as those of Stars of the Lid and The Dead Texan, Vantzou’s compositions are more grounded and concerned with the terrestrial as opposed to the extra-terrestrial symphonies of the former, and are full lush symphonic movements as opposed to the shorter pop structures of the latter.

These pieces also draw parallels to a number of late 20th century composers who concentrated on layering the string sections of orchestras whist avioding the harsher brass and percussive elements.
There is no easy pigeon hole for Vantzou, the structure of material is modern classical, with an ambient minimalist edge ”“ near similarities would be the work of Gordon Sharp and Cindytalk, or the magnificent Black Rose who released ”˜Silent Tears’ and ”˜The Room Inside’ on Italian imprint Contempo back in 1990.

What becomes immediately apparent upon listening is that Christina Vantzou is a powerful new voice in contemporary neo-classical composition

A truly beautiful piece of music”¦

Tracklisting:

1. Homemade Mountains
2. Prelude for Juan
3. Super Interlude Pt.1
4. Super Interlude Pt.2
5. Small Choir
6. Adversary
7. Your Changes Have Been Submitted
8. And Instantly Take Effect
9. 11:11
10. Joggers

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7 comments on “Christina Vantzou ‘No.1’ – album review”

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  1. if the place you want to go isn’t there, then make the music that will transport you.
    much in the vein of her Dead Texan duo project a few years back and baring some similarity to the not quite as new A Winged Victory For The Sullen by her label mates – Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran, Christina has composed a new millenium symphony of ambient gloss and crystalline astomspherics as a whole encompassing dreamy tone, mood, reflection, and hypnotics. great effort for her
    first full length album. she’ll find favor with an ever growing crowd wanting something more substantial than entertainment and diversive beats. very mature music for ageless listeners. an obvious work of love and time.

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