051 - Christina Vantzou & Rosano Polidoro

Since they met last year, American born Christina Vantzou and Italy's Rossano Polidoro have become musical confidents. Discussing and sharing music with one another, both in person and across the internet, it’s no surprise that the two should hit it off. Long time Kranky records affiliate Vantzou has established herself as a consistent force in the ambient/neo-classical world, whilst Polidoro’s two well known collaborative projects, Tu’M and most recently TRIAC, focus heavily on ambient music, presenting audio-visual projects that have been exhibited all over the world to critical success. Vantzou, now based in Brussels, is equally as engaged with the visual aspect of her craft.

At it’s core their musical output shares a similar sensibility too, one that is mirrored in their selections here, a stunning collection of ambient and classical music, spanning centuries with a bold mix of old & new.

From the very first excerpt, an elegant choral performance, this glorious mix hits a powerful and emotive peak that is matched repeatedly throughout the 63 minutes. There’s often a sense that ambient and classical music can be just background noise, but with heavyweight selections from all time greats and a well considered ordering, almost every moment of this mix is compelling, rooted to the present and emotionally stirring - at one point moving this humble listener close to tears. The arrangements are beautiful, whether it be guitar, piano, choir or strings - it’s little wonder the pair have found it within themselves to produce such wonderful music when they spend their quiet hours listening to the incredible sounds featured on Métron Mixtape 051.

I spoke briefly with both Christina & Rossano about their mix, how they met and plans to work together in the future. You can also find a tracklist at the bottom of the page.

Thanks so much for your beautiful mix. What was the process & thinking behind the selections?
R: Thanks Jack for hosting our mix.  Maybe the process and thinking behind the selection was to share music across time and also the feeling that compositions from 7 centuries ago are still new and inspiring.  There is an attempt at dialogue with modern time.  Christina structured the mix really well where, for instance, Gregorio Allegri meets John Cage.   (with the hope of not being sacrilegious-)))

CV: As soon as I met Rossano, we started sharing music.  That continued via email over several months and oftentimes Rossano’s suggestions were totally new to me.   I googled and wikipedia’d a lot.  As the material piled up, it seemed wise to compile a mix as a way or documenting everything.

I really loved the Bill Frisell selection and that record is so great - how did you come across his work?

I discovered Bill Frisell music from the 80.it  was really a shock for me at that time to listen to such incredible new sounds—plenty of a new poetic beauty produced by a guitar with a volume pedal and reverb. the record you mentioned is titled  : BILL FRISELL IN LINE out on ecm in the early 80’s and is a truly innovative masterpiece which influenced many many musicians in terms of guitar technique and harmonical composition. really seminal record.

How did you guys meet?
R: We met last year in Citta's Angelo centre Italy. The  organization called LUX  where I collaborate at museo laboratorio, citta' s angelo: i helped organize a special live project for Christina. We started to talk about music after a few seconds of meeting -) was so pleasant and productive conversations. We shared really different styles of music trying to advice eachother about new or really old old finds—)).

CV: We met when I was invited to perform in Pescara, Italy.  The trip stood out because like a lot of Italy, it’s really beautiful. It’s next to the sea and the organizers were a lovely bunch of music-loving artists, musicians and curators.  It was clear soon after meeting Rossano that he had a music encyclopedia in his mind.  I tend to gravitate towards people like this.  He was also very humble, and an exchange began.  Before returning to Brussels he gave me a list of youtube links to dig into.  It was mostly choral music, the oldest stuff on the mix.

Can you tell me a bit more about your music sharing / musical sensibilities?

R: The music we shared back and forth ranged from early polyphony to contemporary records.  What made me happy was the huge enthusiasm of Christina’s so open mindedness and hunger for music.

It was really amazing to share music this way.   we created a private small musical encyclopedia from ancient sacred music to John Cage and part of that you can listen to on the MIX.

CV: We shared a lot of experimental, relatively slow, calm and well produced music and youtube made it easy to keep an exchange going.  Rossano sent me some videos by choreographer Anna Teresa De keersmaeker too.  Living in Brussels, I’ve been to a few of her performances and they’ve been a source of inspiration.  I’d never seen her film for Steve Reich’s Come Out or Violin Phase though. 

Have you any plans to work together?
R: Would be amazing! who knows….

CV: Collaboration is a focus right now : ) And I’d love to return to Italy. One of the curators from that show in Pescara,  Marco Marzuoli, has been urging me to return to shoot a film in the region.

Christina, I’m very excited about your next record, can you tell us a bit about it?

CV: It’s been coming together for over a year now.  I recorded part of the album in New York - synth, harp and voice - and the rest Brussels - string quartet, marimba, vibraphone and gong.  It’s nearly finished, and new videos and films were made  too. 

What else are you both working on for 2018?

R: After a couple releases for LINE my  trio TRIAC  i have just finished recording a new work i’m really excited for  its release  and i hope it will be out early 2018  www.triac-act.com.

CV: I’ll be preparing for Nº4’s release on Kranky and continuing work on a couple collaborations underway. 

Can you recommend a couple of records that might have been overlooked from recent years?

R: Paul Motian - Psalm (ecm 1982) & Paul Motian Trio - It Should've Happened A Long Time Ago (ecm 1985)

CV: Justin Walter - Unseen Forces  - he did one of your mixes right?  That record didn’t get the attention it deserved.



01 Allegri “Miserere mei, Deus” performed by the Choir of New College, Oxford  excerpt
02 Steve Reich “Duet” Performed by Edna Michell and the Karlsruhe Ensemble excerpt
03 Pat Metheny “Sea Song”
04 Jordan De La Sierra “Sphere of Sublime Dances” excerpt
05 Palestrina “Missa Brevis”  excerpt
06 Sofia Gubaidulina  “Concerto for Bassoon and Low Strings”  excerpt
07 Gavin Bryars “My First Homage” excerpt
08 Bill Frisell “Start”
09 Azimuth “The Tunnel”  excerpt
10 Roedelius  “Fabelwein” excerpt
11 Jean Francaix  “Berceuse for Cello and Piano” excerpt
12 Ockeghem  “Deo gratias”  excerpt
13 Gavin Bryars  “Four Elements”  excerpt
14 Debussy “Sonata per flute, viola, and harp”  excerpt
15 John Cage  “No 1 Rubato from Six Melodies
16 Egisto Macchi “Microrganismi”
17 Maggi Payne “Crystal” excerpt

Words, images & interview by Jack Hardwicke. 

Métron Records 2018. Hampshire, UK.