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4 stars The lonely and difficult paths are the ones that lead to the most beautiful places.

Regular humans in their everyday lives try to keep the forces of chaos at bay, those forces that indicate randomness and the unpredictable and fragile nature of existence itself, remaining closely attached to the forces of order. Well, everyone is entitled to have an opinion of Art and mine is that art should function the other way around, forcing the creator to avoid Order and its linear conservatism and to pursue the fleeting, the chaotic and his/her creative momentum.

The thoughts above came to my mind after listening to Topos since I can't explain or describe differently the total twist of linearity attempted by Nikitas Kissonas and his creative vehicle Methexis. Their 2015 album Suiciety gained excellent reviews by being an ambitious concept that combined social sensitivities with 'normal' progressive rock, music with vocals and eclectic jazz, funk and rock influences. Nevertheless, instead of safely leaning on their achievement, they set sail with Topos to new and unexpected directions.

Topos (translated as'' place'') is consisted of two 20 minutes long instrumental tracks that cannot easily be described with popular music terms. ''Topos I'' kicks off with a traditional prog rock riff, with its odd time signature, off beat dynamics and everything but it is soon proved that it was just an intro. What follows is a 'cinematic' orgy of alternating sound horizons, an epic journey where Light and Dark fail to eliminate or to be eliminated but travel together, tightly held to one another. The sense of colour intensively comes to mind: this is a composition with very colourful and wide arrangements and instrumentation, demonstrating the fact that Kissonas gets the best out of his bandmates, T. Christodoulou (Drums), N. Nikolopoulos (Flutes), K. Kefalas (Trumpets) and P. Krabis (Piano). ''Topos II'' has the same conceptual roots but a feels a bit more dense as a composition, with more parts, a bit more complicated textures and obviously being more guitar oriented. Both tracks are as recitative and fragmentary as they should, though prog rock fans may prefer the fusion mood of ''Topos II'' a bit more. Kissonas offers the listener the option of listening the tracks in 'slices' (in 8 and 5 parts respectively), I wouldn't suggest this easy road to anyone though, a road in which big picture gets blurry and shimmering. I recommend the experience of the undivided, cohesive listening.

One needs to focus on two points of great significance, starting with the production. If Methexis had chosen a slightly more vintage and 'warm' sound, they would build a bridge with music released in the past by prog giants like ELP or King Crimson, thus they could sound a bit more likeable, at least to a specific audience. By choosing a wide and modern production instead, they construct an environment that equally relates to prog, contemporary classical and cinematic music.

But the best feature of all is a well-hidden detail. Almost any creator in Kissonas' place would rather guide the listener to the conceptual and thematic roots of the album, chewing up the 'whys' and 'becauses' of the described 'place' for him/her. On the contrary, in the credit notes he clearly states ' Imagine your own place', respecting in this way the primary and chaotic function of art, in which the creator should have no control over the creation when it reaches the senses of the receiver. Willingly or not, he lets Topos free for the listener to make it his own, with no guidance, no self-suggestions, no Order.

As I have written elsewhere, 'Methexis keep releasing one amazing album after the other under our unsuspicious noses'. Regardless of the final evaluation, Topos is an album that has to be checked out by everyone who believes that music has to be an adventure and something more that simple or refined fun. Methexis' greatest triumph though is not the release of a remarkable album but leaving us righteously eager to see what they will do next. We should welcome the chaos of art upon our well settled lives.

So follow, if you will, that lonely and hard path and discover for yourself if it will lead you into a beautiful place. Travel lightly.

Originally written for

Report this review (#2041841)
Posted Sunday, October 7, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Nikitas Kissonas is back with another serious contribution to the evolution of progressive rock music with an all- instrumental set of two "side-long" pieces that are structured much more like symphonies than rock songs.

1. "Topos 1" (19:28) a spacious, multi-faceted, symphonic creation which relies much less on rock constructs and traditional rock sounds (though they're there) than anything I've heard from Nikitas before. It's as if I'm listening to a combined instrumental performance of 1970s KING CRIMSON with Gabriel-era GENESIS: stark and industrial while still, oddly, pastoral and folk-friendly. This is going to take me many listens to fully appreciate, to fully judge. It's length makes it very difficult to get a grasp on a holistically. (9/10)

2. "Topos 2" (20:52) opens like blending of a Mark Isham soundtrack with Mike Oldfield's Hergest Ridge and a Villalobos guitar concerto. At the end of the sixth minute synthesized sounds take over on every level, then the electronic is woven within the symphonic (or vice-versa). At the end of the ninth minute the introduction of jazz guitar, fretless bass, and more-staccato trumpet play shift the music more into the domain of jazz. At 10:15 5he computerized click track ends and we transition briefly into a Greek folk ditty before returning to a slowed down, bare-bones, note-by-note version of the opening section. At 11:30 a bombastic drum entrance and blaring trumpet solo announce the arrival of a plaintive, "ballad" section. Electric guitar solos in a blues-rock fashion over the piano and slow rock rhythm section. I feel we are building--building in emotion, building in tension, building toward some further explosive exposition. Guitar moves into upper octaves to continue its cries before grand piano does some neat soloing over a very-Mike Oldfield-like section. Again, building and building, slowly, toward some crescendo or dénouement. But no! At the 16:00 mark we stop and switch into an entirely new style, new driving tempo, new sound combination, and melodic theme. The tempos and soundscapes continues to build, shift, clutter and clear, while an eerie space-synth solos in the background. Just shy of the 19 minute mark the lead switches to edgy electric guitar in an angular solo reminiscent of one Robert of Fripp. But then, rather suddenly, at the 20 minute mark, everything shifts into a Latin sound fusion for the finish! Weird! Again, I'm going to have to hear that one many more times in order to get an overall sense of what I'm experiencing. (9/10)

4.5 Stars; a near-masterpiece of eclectic symphonic progressive rock music.

Report this review (#2083676)
Posted Thursday, December 6, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Good news from Greece!"

What a coincidence, I just finished my serie of reviews about the early King Crimson albums (the 40th Anniversary Edition), then I started to listen to this new Methexis CD, to me it sounds like the experimental side of, indeed, early King Crimson (1970-1975 era). This third Methexis album is my first musical encounter with Greek prog since I listened to Aphrodites Child, PLJ Band and Akritas in the late Eighties. The musical brainchild of the Methexis project is multi-instrumentalist Nikitas Kissonas, he plays guitar, bass and keyboards, along his work as composer, arranger and producer, and he played in the alternative Greek bands Verbal Delirium and Yianneis. The debut album The Fall Of Bliss was released at the same year and Nikitas Kissonas played most of the instruments. Three years later new material was composed recorded, together with musicians of the new prog generation: from Joe Payne (The Enid), Linus K'se ('nglag'rd, Brighteye Bison) and Nikos Zades (Yianneis, Mother 'n Son) to Walle Wahlgren (Agents Of Mercy, Lalle Larsson). The second album Suiciety was released in 2015 and, like The Fall Of Bliss, an independent production. For a new direction in 2016 Nikitas Kissonas joined forces with Mampre Kasardjian (bass), Haris Botsis (keyboards) and Theodore Christodoulou (drums) turning Methexis into a four piece formation, but already one year later Methexis went down to a power trio, performing all around Greece. In 2018 Methexis its third album entitled Topos was released, it is instrumental and for the first time also on vinyl.

1. Topos 1 (19:28) : This first epic composition contains several very short parts that range from hypnotizing sound collages to experimental musical landscapes. But my focus is on the longer parts, what a captivating and adventurous blend of prog, jazz, metal and jazzrock, these musicians love to scout musical boundaries: the one moment heavy guitar riffs with lush Hammond organ or fiery electric guitar and jazzy piano, the other moment a sumptuous church organ interlude, then a mellow atmosphere with trumpet and xylophone and finally a swinging rhythm with trumpet. Or first soaring Mellotron violins in a menacing climate, gradually turning into 'organized chaos' with heavy guitar and thunderous drums. That element can also be heard in the final part of this composition, first dreamy with trumpet and synthesizer runs, then a stacccato Hammond sound and propulsive drum beats and finally again that 'organized chaos' (with fiery guitar and a bombastic atmosphere), once a King Crimson trademark between 1970 and 1975.

2.Topos 2 (20:52) : This second epic composition delivers also a lot of variety, adventure and surprising musical ideas. From mellow with piano and acoustic guitar to a slow rhythm with flute and soaring keyboards. And from experimental with fat synthesizer flights and trumpet to a swinging rhythm with a mandoline sound. The final two parts are my personal highlights in this album. Part Four starts with tender piano and flute, then a slow rhythm with trombone, soaring keyboards and piano, halfway culminating in splendid guitar solo, evoking Jan Akkerman in his best Focus days, very powerful and compelling. The conclusion delivers a sparkling piano solo, what an unique prog music! The final Part Five is even more exciting: a tight beat, powerful rock guitar and distorted electric guitar runs, gradually the music turns into heavy and bombastic (a dark undertone, like King Crimson on Red) with biting electric guitar and a thunderous rhythm-section. The closing section is another fine surprising musical idea by Methexis: a swinging rhythm with piano and trumpet '. yes, this band loves to be a musical Pandora's Box!

This is fascinating and adventurous, but also complex and very varied, genuine progressive rock. If you are up to a blend of many different styles, with the focus on experimental and avant-garde (like early King Crimson but also current Italian prog band DAAL), I highly recommended this music!

P.s.: I hope there will be soon room on PA to review current prog bands/artists Encircled, The Adekaem, Fizbers, 41Point9, Laura Meade, and Pollard, Daniel, Booth and Dean Baker (both EM).

Report this review (#2137536)
Posted Monday, February 18, 2019 | Review Permalink

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