Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet ‘Metamodal’ CD (ECM) 4/5

Four years after the critically acclaimed “Eight Winds”, this Athens based quartet return with the aptly titled “Metamodal”. Folk, jazz, Byzantine and classical influences all combine to provide a uniquely beguiling album. The coalescence of Sinopoulos’s lyra, with its yearning, ancient tones, and the sensitive, modern piano of Yann Keerim is fundamental to the textural warmth of this recording. Dimitris Tsekouras’s bass, especially when bowed offers a perfect counterpoint to the lyra, creating something of a tonal spirituality. The varied hues of Dimitris Emmanouil’s drumming add a brightness of colour where required, helping adjoin the overall sound of the quartet.

The album title has open-ended significance for Sinopoulos. “Metamodal” could be interpreted as “post-modal” but the band-leader reminds us that the Greek root ‘meta’ also translates as ‘among, between, behind and in the midst of’ and carries the idea of ‘changed and altered’ as well.

The three “Metamodal” pieces are at the core of the recording. Subtitled “Liquid”, “Illusions” and “Dimensions” there is a forward-thinking, outward-reaching fluidity to these wonderful tunes. The music captures the imagination in many ways, with the traditions of the past forging new and intriguing possibilities for the future. The gorgeous melodies are at the heart of the compositions, with an intensity and slick understanding of the pieces allowing all four musicians to collectively contribute towards a fresh and exotic sound that somehow links traditional knowledge and wisdom with contemporary thought and attitude.

“We have a shared common knowledge of traditional music, and a shared feeling for its rhythms” says Sinopoulos. “It forms the basis of our communication, even if that is not immediately apparent to a jazz listener. At the same time, each of the musicians is a creative individual, bringing his own ideas into music that is becoming more open-ended all the time.” This integration of musical techniques, virtuosity and a shared enthusiasm to create music that ranges from pastoral to exhilarating, makes for a genuinely intoxicating album, and one that will delight many listeners no matter where their musical roots herald from.

Mike Gates

Read also: Eleni Karaindrou ‘Medea’ (ECM) 4/5