onepointtwo: ‘Mondoprotozoa’ reviewed

❉ Ambient drone and dark wave brilliance from Kostas Giazlas, the Greek electronic musician behind onepointwo.

Some albums are very listenable all the way through, with a run of consistently good songs, but without ever reaching any higher than that. And some – like Mondoprotozoa by onepointwo – are good, but with a completely magnificent EP hidden inside them.

Let me elaborate…

The album starts with the aptly named Introduction, a short spacey synth piece, and then moves swiftly on to the title track, Mondoprotozoa in which two minutes of the  rapid, looping sounds of infinite replication finds itself overcome by long, elongated background notes which overwhelm and eventually create chaos.

It’s a solid start, much as we might expect from Kostas Giazlas, the Greek electronic musician behind onepointwo. His album Synchronization from earlier in the year was excellent, and remains in regular rotation on my CD player.

So everything is pretty damn good, thus far. Ambient and drone is all about layers, both of sound and meaning, and there’s plenty in this opening twin shot to occupy the ears and the mind. But it’s the next two tracks which raise this release to an altogether higher level.

Tansprozek begins harmlessly enough. It’s a mellow drone with muted beats (and what could even be a muffled cowbell pushing through in the mix). But there’s something ethereal and  ghostly at play here – every note feels as though it arrives through a veil, the music reluctantly eked out by the player, the sound of life continuing, viewed through heavy glass, at a remove, on a cold, dark, winter night, with the fog just settling in outside. The track manages to be both foreboding and filled with resilience – there’s a sense of inevitable struggle, and an uncertain outcome (all of which fits perfectly with Giazlas’s intention to compose, in this microbe obsessed on years. an album which explores ‘birth and the end of life, the unseen microbes and the chemical elements that connects them’.

But if Transprozek is a particularly evocative slice of dark wave brilliance,  the next track, Guffond builds on the sense of claustrophobia it creates, and elevates this release to very top level. Big fat bassy notes provide a wall down which tinkling notes fall like drips of water in an abandoned cave. The title betrays its lineage – this is plainly a tribute to Jasmine Guffond, to whose long 2018 piece Degradation Loops this is an obvious homage. Synchronization claimed to be bult upon the fragments of sound saved from a failed hard drive, but this is a track which positively revels in erosion and disintegration. In a direct line through Guffond to Basinski, Giazlas joins a select group of musicians chronicling the wearing down and potential loss of civilisation itself, and it’s positively chilling to listen to.

It’s not all portents of doom, though. As though to prove that he can mix it with the best of them in the EDM world, side B of the album is taken up with top notch electronica with a more upbeat, at times even trippy, tone. After the weight of the end of side a, these pieces are pretty welcome, though the thematic intent of the record still shines through on tracks like Formium and, especially, Techne.

This is another cracking release from Waxing Crescent Records (who also release the superb new Polypores album Crystal Shop this month) with every track worthy of its place – but I’d love to see a little 7” vinyl release of Transprozek backed with Guffond!

❉ ‘MondoProtozoa’ by Onepointwo (Waxing Crescent Records) originally released 10 December 2021. Buy Digital Album (Streaming + Download) for £5 GBP or more via Bandcamp.

 Stuart Douglas is an author, and editor and owner of the publisher Obverse Books. He has written four Sherlock Holmes novels and can be found on twitter at @stuartamdouglas

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