Tsampouna (2013) was made during a recent residency at Syros Sound Meetings on the Greek island of Syros. The source is a field recording of four local musicians gathered at a bar, casually performing a song about the tsampouna, or Greek bagpipes.
The piece begins with the straight recording of a single voice, a bit of a drum, and of course the bagpipes, accompanied by lute and tzouras - then layers the second phrase on top of the first, continuing layering each successive phrase on top of the previous phrases.
This slowly builds up into a monolithic mass, until the point that the entire song is present for the length of a single phrase. Layering continues, however, as the mass is doubled with copies of itself with shorter and shorter offsets, eventually becoming a swirling mass of human noise.
Considering the difficult times in the area, it is tempting to interpret the work along political lines: the work begins with folk material and a single voice; individual voices begin to fade, as slowly numbers build, to a larger chorus of greater and greater size, eventually sounding more like the chanting of a crowd, building with an ever-increasing sense of mass and urgency. From simple folk song, to anthem, to the chanting of an angry mob.
James Andean is a musician and sound artist. He is active as both a performer and a composer in a range of fields, including electroacoustic composition and performance, improvisation, sound installation, and sound recording. He is a founding member of improvisation and new music quartet Rank Ensemble and one half of audiovisual performance art duo Plucié/DesAndes. He has performed throughout Europe and North America, and his works have been performed around the world.