The case of ION is neither new - nor coincidental. With a career starting in the 1980s, ION or Giannis Papaioannou not only gives meaning to what “underground” should mean but strongly emphasizes it so that that both the concept and himself are finally transparent and impressive. With his occasionally different or overlapping competencies - journalist, musician, producer, and amazing dj - ION never stands still: he is in constant discovery of new corners in the urban environment that he lives and loves, gaining new audiences that will accompany him to his otherworldly and transcendental musical travels.
Having heard a year ago ION’s other project “Mechanimal” live at “Death Disco”, I was dumbfounded and speechless by the monumental industrial sound and nailing visuals of the band. I never expected that Dark Synth Pop can be expressed in such a roaring way. Indeed it can however, because it is not Synth Pop, but rather something overly new, that Mechanimal themselves call (affectionately maybe) "Drone 'n' Roll". Drone music is characterized by a continuous and repetitive playing of the same note or a sound cluster (which may be generated, for example, by pressing three adjacent keys on a keyboard). In the music of Mechanimal, drones are tangled with heavy electric guitars, drums and machines to create their special blend of Industrial Rock.
In contrast, "Black Frequency", is ION’s Ambient Drone product, with a music that is stripped and minimalist. However, what truly characterizes the album is his emphasis on melody. Dub Techno details, that were evident in earlier ION works, are still present and, of course drones are there. But they work as a foundation upon which rotating melodies unfold and then fold back again. To ION melody is always a challenge, a quest, which he tries to conquer even in his most experimental - microtonal - recordings.
"Black Frequency" is an Ambient album. And it sounds as such. It does not aim to transform the mood of the listener with a series of songs that alternate small emotional conditions, as a Pop album would try to achieve. Instead, what is sought here is the creation of a single meditational feeling from start to finish. That is why it would be wrong to make separate references to the tracks of the album. ION is primarily inspired by the contemporary urban environment in which he lives and wants his music to indicate its origins, in his case Athens. This time, however, he visits and composes a canvas of isolated Greek landscapes, as if he wants to explore the emotional isolation of his countrymen, in this present moment and current circumstances. Actually, conception of the moment is that makes him use field recordings and to encompass his entire music production in the portable studio that is his laptop. By using Drones, Post-Rock guitars and whispers from synthesizers, ION manages to make us understand what “silent sound” (otherwise black frequency) sounds like if we had the ability to listen to it.
To me, however, this music had a different effect. There I was, not in the city, but in a summer beach, right at noon, just at the time where the largest beach crowd gathers. But... with this music in my ears I felt beautifully alone to stare at the sea, at that specific moment when sunrays turn blue to gold. This is a silent sound. I am sure, though, that if I walked the narrow streets of Athens with the same background music I would have a different understanding of this silent “Black Frequency” story, a dark one perhaps. This is certainly a challenge to the listener...
A series of EPs with remixes has begun to pop-out from the album. The first EP contains modifications to “Fjord” made by friends of ION. “Fjord” is an atmospheric composition that incorporates the feeling I described above. But in the EP its transformation is impressive to a degree that is no longer the same composition - while all three remixes included differ dramatically between them. Those of Christoph Kardek and the most upbeat of The Angel People stand out.
Listen and support ION at: https://ionmusik.bandcamp.com/
And at: https://soundcloud.com/ion_
Listen ION’s dj sets at: https://www.mixcloud.com/ION_/
Visit Mechanimal at: http://mechanimal.gr/
Album and Ep: Μαύρη Συχνότητα – Black Frequency (May 2015) and Fjord Remixed (Νovember 2015) by ΙΟΝ
Genre: Ambient, Drone, Dub Techno
Company: Ion Musik