Label: Puzzlemusik, 2019
Personnel - Billy Pod: drums, composition; Michalis Tsiftsis: guitar; Kimon Karoutzos: bass; Yiannis Papadopoulos: Rhodes; Jannis Anastasakis: electronics; Katerine Duska: vocals; George Kontrafouris: piano; Stephanos Chytiris: drums.
Athens-born drummer Vassilis Podaras, known in the artistic world as Billy Pod, envisions music as a miraculous influence with the capacity of touching, affecting, and healing listeners. According to that idea, and based on his compositional efforts, the title given to his debut album was Drums to Heal Society.
The essence of “Void” is purely percussive, inviting us to the album with an exploration of darkened drum timbres gorgeously synced with cymbal splashes and adorned by speculative electronic noises. It precedes the harmonically lucid “Minor Mystery”, where indulging in the guitar solo of Michalis Tsiftsis is undemanding. Whereas he shows off his legato technique over a 5/4 bluesy spell, Pod slightly expands his chops during the closing vamp before entering in a 30-second hip-hop state of mind on “Reminiscence”.
Enveloped by a balmy breeze, “L.” bounces with the conspicuous intervallic cadence brought up by the bass of Kimon Karoutzos, who intrepidly ventures into improvisation on tunes like “Connection”, a hauntingly melodic pop/rock song, and “Billy Pod”, a 12-bar blues with a sweet, traditional taste and written by guest pianist George Kontrafouris.
The predominantly soft nature of these tunes contrasts with the danceable approach used in the groovier “One Heart”, whose percussive flux in seven is interrupted at one point by a folk-imbued passage that escorts us to reticent Fender Rhodes statements by Yiannis Papadopoulos. In a flash, the eclectic guitarist Brad Shepik came to my mind.
The sophisti-pop of “Limit to Your Love”, a song penned by the pair Leslie Feist/Chilly Gonzales and popularized by James Blake in 2011, also brings a trip-hop-ish atmosphere, emitting chill-out vibes through Katerine Duska's soulful vocal work.
As a percussive experimentation, the title track detaches from the stream of songs, featuring Stephanos Chytiris on drums. If Pod opened the session with his drumming, then Tsiftsis uses poignant lyricism on the fingerpicked guitar to close it out.
Even embracing stylistic dispersion along the way, Pod finds his own balance through uncomplicated structures and persuasive aesthetics that facilitate the listening.
02 - Minor Mystery ► 05 - One Heart ► 09 - Connection