Christina Vantzou :: No. 1 DVD & Remixes (The Numbered Series)

Subjecting such a frugal piece to deconstruction by remixers is unexpected, though Vantzou certainly has enlisted an impressive roster. All show the original great respect by exercising vivid imagination under the same tight leash of restraint.

Christina Vantzou 'No. 1 DVD & Remixes'

Christina Vantzou Artist and musician Christina Vantzou released No. 1 on Kranky in October of 2011 and shortly thereafter, released this generous companion set on her own imprint. The DVD contains the entire album accompanied by its own series of video vignettes.

Ambient video is hard to review inasmuch as one does not watch it but rather glances now and then. It would be churlish to over-think it, too, given the generosity of the gift. In some of the pieces, Vantzou has blocked out the centre of the frame with a black diamond or sun disc, forcing the eye to investigate the periphery, or deliberately brought the images far out of focus, turning the figurative into the abstract. In others, she recuperates stock footage. She makes an American military jet look like a sexy, streamlined modernist sculpture. Her repetitive, slowly tightening close-ups on the face of a comely young woman, possibly surrounded by children just out of frame, who is clearly uncomfortable maintaining direct eye contact with the camera, is like a modern-day version of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. Its poignancy is forlorn and beatific.

This music was composed by Vantzou, who only turned to composing four years ago, on laptop and is performed by the seven piece Magik*Magic Orchestra, led by Minna Choi, who transcribed the work to sheet music. It is delicate but but somehow abject, like a dragonfly captured in amber, its wings forever caught in mid-flight. Its lingering pace disguises the fact that there is so much going on.

Subjecting such a frugal piece to deconstruction by remixers is unexpected, though Vantzou certainly has enlisted an impressive roster. Her erstwhile partner in The Dead Texan, Adam Wiltzie of Stars of the Lid, and his new cohort in A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Dustin O’Halloran, are both on board, as are Loscil, Ben Vida (Town & Country), Robert Lippock (To Rococo Rot) and the duo ISAN.

All show the original great respect by exercising vivid imagination under the same tight leash of restraint. Koen Holtkamp opens by looping a viola slowly and elegantly, which Locsil mirrors, multiplies and makes gently pulse. Ernest Gibson III digs deep inside to sculpt metallic craters he calls “Moonsound.” Montgomery Knott rearranges the strings to accompany his tentative falsetto song, the weak exception on so many terrific albums which proves the rule. Vida creates chamber music à la americaine with a small rustic choir and selected wind instruments. O’Halloran, who has been called a “neoclassic” composer, conducts the most majestic, orchestral arrangement. Robert Lippock re-imagines Vantzou’s score in a minimal, rhythmic electronic context. He does so brilliantly and it makes for a nice, midway change of pace. White Rainbow continues the electronic section with wordless pop song pagentry. ISAN’s is the most drastic remake, dropping each of Vantzou’s notes in syrup and stirring slowly while sprinkling its own like fairy dust around them. For an exquisite closing, The Dead Texan perform a new track called “The Adversary of Evil Budd,” a Harold Budd pastiche done with a wicked little smile.

In all, it’s the total package. You can play the DVD with the picture off and enjoy a stunning debut, you can enjoy the movies, and the remixes dovetail seamlessly with the album while comprising an impressive, hour-long listen on its own.

No. 1 DVD & Remixes is available on The Numbered Series. Buy at Christina Vantzou shop.

TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.