Christina Vantzou is a Greek American composer based in Brussels. Her work deals with time expansion, atmospheres and harmonies through electronics and acoustic instruments. Often composed over long periods of time with stimulus from travel and forays into nature, Vantzou’s music accesses the depths with a light touch. Few notes and sparse instrumentals alternate with field recordings and occasional orchestrals blending the imaginary with the real.
Vantzou’s releases include five numbered solo albums on Kranky, 2020’s Multi-Natural LP for the Belgian label Edições CN, three albums with John Also Bennett as CV & JAB, and many other solo and collaborative works. In her latest work, voice, synthesisers, woodwinds and electronics take on a ceremonious air inspired by ancient earthworks.
Observations, edits, a cure for restlessness is a sequence of sound fragments recorded and collected over the last many years, extending back more than a decade. Home recordings, rehearsal recordings with close collaborators, and some early studio recordings found their way onto this 20 minute sprawl.
Composing this work felt like preparing for a large dinner party; The piece starts with a home recording of John Also Bennett making dinner in our Brussels apartment. There’s a field recording from my cousin’s village in Vresthena, Greece, where the local priest broadcasts sermons and chants regularly on loudspeakers. Working in multiple locations and choosing small repeating musical phrases with occasional shifts glorifies the comings and goings of travel, and finding one’s rhythm when moving from place to place.
There’s a feeling that naturally arises when it's possible to move freely, and to rest freely. I like the idea that sound can ripen like fruit, age like wine and bond organically when in contact with another sound. A composition can grow out of this delicate nature – working with sound's own potential. Intimate and intuitive recording sessions with several musicians going back many years also creates a delicate network. This impromptu dinner party is casual and grand at the same time. The unexpected hovers around this work; there are many twists, turns, and soft breaks as the courses keep coming out of the kitchen.
Listening is an efficient way of making space. Letting a sound, a voice, or the natural environment seep in gives space for reflection, inspiration, like a portal. Listening with a group of people gathered, with a certain level of focus, at a concert for example, creates a really dynamic listening environment. Listening in pairs is also unique. If I listen to something with a close friend it feels totally different than listening alone.
Composed and edited by Christina Vantzou
Mixed by Christina Vantzou and John Also Bennett
Dinner preparation at home in Brussels, Belgium
River and insects, Zambujeira de Baixo, Portugal
Orthodox liturgy, Vresthena, Peloponnese, Greece
Sissi Rada: Harp
John Also Bennett: Bass Flute
Ben Bertrand: Bass Clarinet
Kimberly Houglum: Violin
Anna Washburn: Violin
Jory Fankuchen: Viola
Samsun Van Loon: Cello
Christina Vantzou: Voice, Piano
String arrangements by Minna Choi
Harp and Bass Flute fragments from a performance at the The National Observatory in Athens recorded by JAB
Piano from a performance at Iklectik, London recorded by Isa Barzizza
Mastered by Simon Scott