Uncle Grasha's Flying Circus /Kostadis - Split

This album is a split release between Uncle Grasha’s Flying Circus and Kostadis, two artists who are composing and performing ambient electronic and improvisational music, a genre which I have to say I am not very knowledgable of. However after receiving the promo, I have decided to listen carefully (and most important open-mindedly) and write about it based on the impressions (and emotions) it has generated to me rather than doing a classical music review. I think that this way, was the best way to approach and do justice to the music…

Emerging from Czech republic, Uncle Grasha’s Flying Circus describe themselves as a dada-surrealistic project. Having already out a number of other releases and splits with bands like Calf, they have named the 2 songs of their side of the split as hüzün​/​hùzūn using two similarly sounding words which however have a different root and meaning. Hüzün is a Turkish term (based on an Arabic word) that denotes deep existential sadness and Hùzūn or 尊重 is a Chinese term that denotes respect or value…

Hüzün is a 13 minute composition which is noisy and mostly improvisational in its character using a lot of feedback and which progressively escalates in a horrific - but still beautiful - way to a sonic result that I would even dare to name as Black metal. For sure not as sad as the word Hüzün implies, but one could say that the results of existential sadness can become as frightening as the last part of this track… Hùzūn, track number 2, carries an industrial tribalistic rhythm in the background thus is (always relatively) more straightforward than Hüzün and maybe this progression from the unstructured noise of its predecessor to the more rhythmical second track is way to denote a form of respect thorough noise taming…

For sure Uncle Grasha’s Flying Circus are well skilled and capable of creating noisy landscapes and I think that any fan of hard and unconventional musical genres will be able to appreciate their art without being an expert. I did at least…

Kostadis comes from Greece and is the solo project of Michail Kostadis, a musician known from other bands/acts like Wham Jah, Acid Baby Jesus, In Trance 95 and Lost Bodies. Kostadis for his artistic expression uses tools like modular electronics, DIY contact mics, ribbon devices, voices, field recordings, tapes and drum machines and describes his live performances as a free improvised exploration of a disordered emotional tranquility.

Kostadis side of the split contains only one track, the 19 minute Fragments which follows less “noisy” paths. Being much more sonically accessible and having a natural development as a composition, Fragments is almost “narrational” in its character managing to “convince” the listener that a storytelling unfolds in front of him. I have the feeling that Fragments could have very well been part of a movie soundtrack…

To the ears of an “novice” listener like me, Kostadis approach sounds more conventional without that meaning that his side is inferior or superior to the one of Uncle Grasha’s Flying Circus. This diversity of the split I think is its strong point and make it a release that exceeds the “boundaries” of the community of the specific genre fans.