Greek composer and multi-instrumentalist Serafim Tsotsonis returns with his fourth solo effort, She Swims, an expansive cinematic journey that is filled with gorgeous orchestral arrangements, lush atmospheric backdrops and a truly stunning sense of space.
His first solo release for Seattle based record label Hush Hush Records finds him discovering inspiration in returning to his seaside hometown of Corinth for moonlit walks near his childhood home. The dynamic way each track comes alive as they progress reflects these late-night journeys and evokes great imagery of sprawling seaside landscapes. Blending jazzy flourishes, neo classical inspiration, ambience and dreamy post rock guitar work, Serafim is able to masterfully create a breathtaking sense of emotion throughout the record that drifts you gently away and into his creative world.
The opening track “Time” is mysterious in mood yet it envelopes you slowly as it arrives with deep synth ambience droning against the white noise and sparse piano string plucks that blend beautifully into the lush title track that follows. “She Swims” is an early highlight built upon warm piano arpeggios, reverb laden trumpet leads and features ethereal vocal layering from his sister and fellow composer Angeliki. The multi layered vocal arrangements and harmonies on this record are superb, offering some of the most emotional passages during these musical journeys. “Cold Naive” is a great example of how well Serafim can paint the atmosphere of a track with his brilliant arrangement of delayed guitar notes, upright bass, woozy piano and orchestral horn work. The midpoint tempo change is inspired and the jazzy percussion that arrives propels the song to a new place along with the angelic breathy vocals again provided by his sister.
“A Ride with Suzie” is a dreamy classical journey with a distant piano melody floating along underneath an ambient haze of field recordings, chiming bells and features an excellent soaring violin lead that is almost vocal like with its bright melodies. This composition is highly cinematic and so peaceful in mood with its wondrous tones that it feels like a romantic oceanic journey under the stars. Along with an amazing mix of electronics and acoustic instrumentation this record features recordings from traveling in Corinth that cohesively blend into the warm natural production that allows the listener to travel through a variety of moods. “Moonlight” is a serene blending of bubbling synth filtering, pitched guitar harmonics and excellent stereo panned sound design textures that float into the tense atmosphere of “Imaginary Friends” with its repetitive synth arpeggios providing the foundation for an array of eerie electronic exploration. The following track and standout composition “Dragonflies” masterfully transports the listener and leaves them breathless with its effortlessly emotional arrangement. The way the violin and flute intertwine with the operatic vocals provided by Eleanna Kanstonata and Effie Papadopoulou is stunning, and absolutely one of the most memorable moments on this moving record.
The last track “Lighthouse” is a bombastic culmination of all the moods that have been experienced so far on this journey, with moments of thundering percussion blasts dancing around the backing of Grizzly Bear like high vocal harmonies, bright guitar chords and dizzying jazz trumpet parts. A fitting end to this brilliant and emotional musical journey that is often extremely rewarding with the warmth of its natural production. It is a beautifully cohesive experience that easily allows the listener to transcend their own environment and enter the inspired worlds created by Serafim reflecting on memories of his childhood. The tracks are set at the relaxing pace of a long walk in the wilderness and the multi layering of each composition with fresh ideas offers many unique sonic surprises to enjoy with repeat listens. This record is the perfect companion for being out enjoying nature or a relaxing moment with your headphones when you want to escape and get lost in the spaciousness of these grand soundscapes.