In many ways Alexis Georgopoulos is representative of the alternative modern musician – quietly prolific, working across multiple forms and consummately engaged in his art but positioned firmly below most musical radars. He’s put his name to a range of releases over the last decade, partially under his Arp guise as well as his involvement in bands such as The Alps and Tussle. On top of these he’s also carved out a presence in the underground New York arts scene, delivering soundtracks to modern dance performances and foraying into realm of sound art.
It’s no surprise therefore that much of his music to date belongs to the more abstract, lesser-visited corners of the musical landscape but on his latest album under the Arp name he takes confident steps in a more lucid and (whisper it) melodic direction. To arrive at this album without knowledge of Georgopoulos’ past however could possibly result in something of an incomplete assessment. The album’s obvious qualities would surely still stand out but the wider context and sense of progression would be missed.
The album came about largely due to his decision to put the analogue synthesiser, so key in his musical output to date, to one side and focus purely on writing songs and this is clear throughout. High-Heeled Clouds introduces the clarity of sound that makes up much of More; a warm, enveloping organ is especially prominent yet the way in which it moves towards an echoing, hazy finale confirms that a pared-back psychedelia is never too far away. Judy Nylon is strongly suggestive of pre-ambient Brian Eno, and even ventures close to Elephant 6 bands like Apples In Stereo at times. The immaculately spaced notes of A Tiger In The Hall at Versailles meanwhile recall Gideon Gaye-era High Llamas (a view reinforced by the subtle background electronics and brief interludes that link the songs). Light + Sound is arguably the highlight of the album, representative of the cleansing simplicity and fleeting melodicism found on the album. Georgopoulos has divided much of his life between San Francisco and New York but an oddly English feel drifts through the album at times – the merest hint of Kevin Ayers here, the slightest dash of Robert Wyatt there.
Despite the focus on song-based structures there’s still musical variety – More (Blues) is underpinned by soulful brass tones, whilst Gravity (For Charlemagne Palestine) plays out in suitably minimalist fashion, hinting at a climax that is ultimately withheld. Closing track Persuasion meanwhile is built around a relatively conventional rock dynamic before a kosmische propulsion reveals itself. On the whole his decision to try something different is a commendable and promising move and you get the feeling that it’s a direction he could continue to explore with success should he choose.