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Constantine Skourlis Scores the End of the World

Returning to Bedouin Records with 'Eternal Recurrence', the Greek composer draws from the cyclic nature of catastrophe

Top Notes
Doomsday ambient for the not-so-faint-of heart
Mid Notes
Dark epic melodies blending classical instrumentation, hymns, and drums from the depths of hell

Base Notes
A snapshot of the contemporary Greek cultural landscape through collaborations between genres and artistic disciplines

How do you capture the sound of the world crumbling? This is a question Constantine Skourlis has sought to answer throughout his body of work, from his debut album Hades, named after the Greek god of the underworld, to his scores for film and theatrical productions of epic tragedies like Don Quixote and Richard II.

His sophomore LP Eternal Recurrence sees him pursue his vision towards even more mind-bending, ominous territories, delivering a cathartic release for the chaos that’s permeated throughout this year. Liberated societies come and go, and Skourlis, hailing from Greece, a country which has experienced its fair share of political turmoil throughout its history, is uniquely positioned to draw from the kind of feeling where the only constant in life is uncertainty.

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On its opener “Collapse” we hear low-pitched voices slowly creeping in from beyond the depths of a slow-thudding drum that eventually grows into an epic choral set to flickering soundscapes. It’s an earth-shattering composition, a storm that blows over just as quickly as it began, leaving the dust to settle in the last minutes and listeners to ponder what comes next. The appropriately titled “Reality Cancelled” picks up the pieces, with strings circling around Skourlis’ contemplative piano chords, growing increasingly menacing as it reaches its boiling point, echoing out into calmer tones with “Atonement”.

Skourlis has described the record as his attempt to delve “deeper into the abyss of human psyche and its inevitable dualistic nature of beauty and violence.” Continuing themes of Greek mythology present in Hades, tracks like “Elegy” and “Lethe” imagine the sound of an arduous journey into the underworld, where the light at the end of the tunnel is murky and the only way to get to the other side is to suffer through the present. To musically underline his themes of uncertainty and despair, Skourlis utilizes a full orchestra comprised of the halldorophone, an electro-acoustic string instrument of which there are only five models in the world (one of which was famously used by Hildur Guðnadóttir in her Oscar-winning Joker soundtrack), as well as live percussion by Serafeim Giannakopoulos, of the Greek heavy rock band Planet of Zeus.
Those who are looking for an easy escape from the anxious nature of our times would be best to skip this. However, there is a full catharsis to be unleashed in the nerve-wracking nature of Eternal Recurrence, a powerful statement piece on the cyclical nature of chaos, while leaving listeners ultimately more hopeful with “Ascension”. It’s a reminder that, once the dust has cleared, there are renewed frontiers for optimism to settle.

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Eternal Recurrence is out on November 20th and available for pre-order on Bandcamp.

Album artwork by Vangelis Rinas, additional photographs by Myrto Grigoriou.

Caroline Whiteley is an editor at Electronic Beats. Find her on Instagram.

 

Published November 09, 2020. Words by Caroline Whiteley.