‘Owlbites’ is an experimental guitar ambient/drone project of Thanos Fotiadis active in the Netherlands. It’s inspired by the work of psychologist Carl Jung and his theory of the “shadow” and David Lynch’s obscure cinematic world and artworks. ’Owlbites’ started as a healing process against symptoms of depression and it developed as a continuous experiment in sound, a playful creative exploration using a guitar and a tape player in order to create a complex sound environment where every little detail is being brought to light. Each live show is a unique improvisation and an ode to chaos and its flair for the dramatic structures.
Using field recordings (environment/manipulated bird songs), old piano recordings (memories) and guitar drones (fear), this is an exercise in the limitations of ambient music and it’s trying to approach sound in a dynamic way, working consciously on forms and structures in order to create an illusion of order. ‘Owlbites’ is nocturnal in its character and it’s trying to explore the feeling of fear in an unfamiliar environment. On this occasion the field recordings were made after midnight in a abandoned house in the middle of a forest throughout a whole week of “nocturnal terror”. How do we cope with these feelings? We create our own imaginary familiar environment, full of happy memories from the past (childhood) and sounds that comfort us.
My inspiration comes from the work of psychologist Carl Jung and his theory of the “shadow”, which is our unconsciousness, our unknown “dark side”, which he believed to be “the seat of creativity” and “the true spirit of life”.
“Enantiodromia” was a term invented by Carl Jung, following Heraclitus, to describe a reversal at the extremity, or how actions turn into their ostensible opposites. It’s also a therapeutic term meaning that a person attempts to alter its personality or behaviour in response to a traumatic experience.
Combining these 2 terms of “shadow” and “enantiodromia”, the music is trying to portray the first one as a consistent low frequency that’s following us wherever we go, while the second one is the action that is trying to free itself from the chains of darkness, thus coming into the light and becoming conscious to us. It’s the alteration that brings healing and it launches a different perspective on life, while “we begin to travel up through the healing spirals” (Heraclitus).
Technically it’s all about feeding audio into analogue circuits and manipulate the result improvising with various parameters. Each recording is the first take, trying to capture a natural playful feeling and it contains certain audio recordings that I’ve made myself.
For full effect, please play loud.
‘Owlbites’ performed the last few years in many special locations, from lighthouses to dancing studio’s, from dark cellars to eerie forests, from cozy theatres to DIY punk squats, from trashy backyards to drunk boats. Every performance was unique, such as each space is unique with its own vibes and reverberation. The audience had a huge influence on the music too: an audience that listened attentively lead to more energetic sets while an audience that surrendered to the hypnotic flow of sound lead to more minimalistic drone meditations.
The recordings you are holding in your hands are made in January 2018 as an ode to all my live improvisation sets as ‘Owlbites’. They are a sort of a sonic diary of my first years with this very personal project. I’ve recorded them straight into a 4-track tape recorder where they were also mixed by Serpentine in order to preserve the dynamics of a pure analogue recording. I used my beloved AC15 and Blues Junior guitar amplifiers, a few fx pedals and a tape player for playing samples.
I would like to thank everyone who has invited ‘Owlbites’ to perform live and to all of you who came to listen. Your support and kind words makes this little miracle keep happening and evolving. Enjoy the trip//..
Owlbites = Thanos Fotiadis, Artwork by Ariella Helfgott