Returning for the second release on Season of Mist, SepticFlesh guitarist Christos Antoniou’s Chaostar’s fifth album, ‘The Undivided Light’, is definitely an eclectic mix of genres that befits the “Avant-Garde Ambient Classical” moniker given by the record label. Joining Christos is Androniki Skoula on vocals, with Charalampos Paritsis on the electric violin and Nikolaos Velentzas taking care of drums and percussion. There are plenty of guest musicians on various other instruments required to keep things as majestic as they are.
Opening the album with a stellar vocal performance, “Tazama Jua” has a steady drum beat and the electric violin come in before the overlaid synths help fill out the sound giving the song a much large palette than before.
The guitars on “Blutbad” are played by Nikolaos Velentzas and Margarita Stadler provides the voice of the little girl in this very minimalist track comprising mostly of Androniki’s stupendous soprano with the odd twanged string and piano note until the last minute where drums add some more texture to the slightly more anguished singing.
A rolling drum fill is accompanied by Vahan Galstyan’s duduk and Stella Valasi’s santur on “Stones and Dust” until the violin comes in to lift the vocals before both are surpassed by the orchestral instruments.
The warble in the vocals on “The Undivided Light” give the title track a very Persian flavour, but it’s the gentle dance feel of the drum beat that drives along as the brass and synths.
The duduk makes another appearance on “Mέμνησο”, as does a cello played by Kiara Konstantinou, along with plenty of violin making the song extremely upbeat until the vocals come in, where they soar above the laconically played strings and wind instrument.
Just short of 11 minutes, “Silent Yard” has several movements from eastern sounding woodwinds to discordant piano clanking, with crescendoing guitars buzzing away to drop into a lively tribal drum beat with blaring brass over the top, exemplifying the cacophony of sounds they merge together to complement each other.
Guitarists George Emmanuel and Greg Eleutheriou give “Ying & Yang” a gentle feel as they get through the first 4 minutes of the guitars building up for them to disappear entirely leaving nothing but the duduk to finish the last 3 minutes of the song an album.
I know I’m biased, so I was bound to enjoy the album, but sometimes something completely different from the normal is always refreshing. Even if it avant-garde can quite happily be substituted with weird.
(8/10 Marco Gaminara)