Cultural Bulletin
Cultural Bulletin is a quarterly magazine that provides an international view of creative work. We look to film, music, design and art as signifiers of our cultural moment.

In Review: Christina Vantzou – No. 4

Record Label: Kranky


Brussels based Christina Vantzou is a composer that has been exploring music for upwards of a decade. Through releasing via the American based label Kranky, she has created a unique and immeasurable landscape in her music.

No. 4, in keeping with its minimalist tone, has been released in April (the fourth month of the year). Her previous releases were numbered 1, 2 and 3 accordingly with remixes taking the .5 moniker in-between full album releases. As you enter the world of No. 4, you are taken on a trip – just the way music should be.

Throughout No.4 there are flourishes of choral colour. Glissando for Bodies and Machines in Space feel like they could have been included in Ridley Scott’s Alien; the descending voice adheres to the film's famous tagline. This track sets the tone for the album. The repetition of the vocal and a tension-filled, rising drone, make for an uneasy start. Percussion in Nonspace follows the opening and the sound created fits literally with its title. The track disappears into the ether with a magical flicker.

Doorway has a gentle bass that slowly slides the track along as sparse, twinkling piano shimmers above the earthy and sometimes distressing tone. Some Limited and Waning Memory contain more beautiful, abstract piano work reminiscent of Nhor’s most recent work in his Wildflower’s collection.

Lava is another tension-filled string led piece that again is aptly named; there is no conjecture or trying to be cute in titling here. Sharp, shrill notes fill the short duration. As the album draws to a close, there is more of an electronic, synth-led layer added. Garden of Forking Paths would not be out of place in Stranger Things as its musical anxiety grows. Remote Polyphony features Steve Hauschildt, who himself is in a rich vein of form with Stands (2016) and Where All Is Fled (2015), both being widely lauded. He adds his inimitable modular touch to the piece to end the album.

No.4 doesn’t play with tempos; this is slow burning, hauntingly beautiful ambient minimalism. It has an evocative aura and tone that allows the listener to mentally go wherever they want amongst the music. DW