review

Textura

Two new EP-length releases from Three :four Records, the first a guitar-based set of instrumentals and the second a split project featuring song-based material from Annelies Monseré and Richard Youngs, prove themselves to be well worth one's time and attention.

On the evidence of ‘Neath the Tumbling Stars, Absent Without Leave, the guitar-based project of Athens, Greece-based George Mastrokostas, can rightfully take its place alongside the work of similarly minded six-string artists like Talvihorros, Fennesz, and thisquietarmy. It's hardly his maiden voyage, as Mastrokostas has previously issued music on labels such as Symbolic Interaction, October Man Recordings, thisquietarmy Records, and his own Sound In Silence, among others, and collaborated with port-royal, yellow6, and Televise, to name a few. Mastrokostas makes a compelling case for Absent Without Leave in the EP's twenty-two minutes and three instrumentals.

Though all three prove rewarding, the EP's major piece is the A-side's title track, which unspools across twelve glorious minutes. A classic slow-builder, the piece begins with unassuming strums easing the listener into a languorous setting of effects-laden haze before ethereal e-bow-like streams stretch themselves across the sky. The material grows ever-more uplifting as the minutes roll by, with the materials gradually swelling into a dense cloud that mutates halfway through into a grainy, Fenneszian wave of epic proportions. Of all the EP's pieces, it's this one that displays Mastrokostas's artistry and control most forcefully. The B-side, which features two five-minute pieces, opens with “As the Leaves Fall From Trees,” which, in keeping with its title, is sombre in character, with tremolo-laden guitar figures dropping from the air in slow-motion. A wistful folk aura surrounds “Calm of the Sea,” a peaceful meditation that provides an illuminating end to the recording. It's a lovely mood piece powerful enough in its understated way of evoking personal associations and memories in any listener. Enhancing ‘Neath the Tumbling Stars' appeal even more, the hand-numbered, twelve-inch vinyl version of the release is packaged in a red cover distinguished by a blind-embossed design.