Alexis Georgopoulos (aka Arp) is a contemporary composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ currently based in New York. As a solo artist and collaborator, he has released music with labels such as RVNG Intl, Smalltown Supersound, Type, Geographic North, Opal Tapes and Mexican Summer. A stylistic shapeshifter, his diverse work is nonetheless typified by certain signature traits – an expansive sense of genre-fluidity, an interest in the effects of hypnotic musical patterns, and an inquiry into the intersection of technology and natural world. He collaborates frequently with other musicians – among those he has worked with include experimental composer Anthony Moore, singer Neneh Cherry, ambient producer Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, and techno producer Patricia – and is also a frequent collaborator across media.
He has presented sound and music in galleries, museums and cinemas internationally, including MoMA PS1, BAM, The Kitchen, Deitch Projects, Walker Art Center, White Columns, MoMA, and New Museum and has composed for film, gallery installations and modern dance, working with figures from a range of disciplines – among them visual artists Tauba Auerbach and Darren Bader, filmmakers Savanah Leaf and Paul Clipson, and choreographers Brittany Bailey and Jonah Bokaer. He is Resident Host on NTS Radio, UK.
Stylistically, my creative practice tends to pendulum from project to project, album to album. Typically, after working in a specific mode for a time, what tends to excite me most is doing just the opposite. The afternoon I recorded the basis for The Enormous Room, I’d just finished a recording project steeped in jittery electronic rhythms and a theme of industrialised dystopia. It was an April morning and I found myself at the piano hovering around an E-flat major scale. I played a simple ascending arpeggio. and something about its tone appealed to me. Something felt open. I sensed I could spend some time here.
It had recently occurred to me that, when listening back to my own work, I tend to find my unconscious ideas more interesting than my conscious ones. So I tried to lean in. It simplified the process. I simply recorded one idea, and then another, and another.
Before long, motifs and patterns started emerging. As the outline materialised, I found myself imagining the music set, not as I generally do, in a traditional music venue, but instead on a large stage involving a revolving cast of characters. I imagined monolithic set designs, bold, sculptural clothing, and lots of movement. A kind of dream-play – a piece of music for theatre, or dance, with a narrative, however abstract, that would hover in that liminal space between dreamstate and lucid consciousness. At times, I felt I was outside at dusk, under that vivid deep blue that happens just before the stars come out. It became clear I was looking for something at the intersection of stream of consciousness and intentional composition, between the predictable and the unexpected, the organised and the intuitive.
Questions popped up… Can something be delicate yet insistent… calm yet complex? Can something affirm the human (breath, pulse) yet also hint at The Uncanny Valley? Can something evoke the structure of The Grid but also the metamorphosis of murmuration?
I started experimenting with the voice, creating different interweaving patterns and then as long held harmonies. No lyrics, just air, breath, pulse. Sound, cycling, building, filtering away. A network of cells. In the spirt of a collaborative “stage production”, I decided to invite a few friends and colleagues from various places around the world to take part, to build out this ad hoc music ensemble – Meara O’Reilly and Emily Schubert to lend their vices, Johan Caroe (cello), Maxim Morton (violin) and Maria Teriaeva (Buchla) – each of them bringing their distinct and graceful sensibilities to the table.
So much of modern life is noise. Everything vying for our attention – visually, auditorily, mentally – and generating chaos. So much is beyond our control. Though I don’t want to shy away from reflecting/refracting this psychic pressure in my more conceptually-driven pieces, I also feel instinctively the need to make quiet work. And, as a listener, to seek it out. This piece was written in part as a means to locating a sense of equanimity, whether in stillness or in motion.
Music composed by Alexis Georgopoulos, Maria Teriaeva and Johan Carøe
Recorded and Produced by Alexis Georgopoulos
Additional Recording by Jonathan Schenke
Studio Assistance by Stewart Whitmarsh
Piano, electronics, voice, string and woodwind arrangements by Alexis Georgopoulos
Cello by Johan Carøe
Violin by Maxim Moston
Voice by Meara O’Reilly
Voice by Emily Schubert
Buchla by Maria Teriaeva
Mixed by John Thayer
Mastered by Stephan Mathieu