Fans of Dark Essence Records will be familiar with the name of Romanian artist COSTIN CHIOREANU whose artwork has frequently been used by both the label and its artists, but it may come as news to some that Chioreanu is himself a musician, and that he has joined forces with the Greek singer SOFIA SARRI to release their debut album “Afterlife Romance”. An album which, needless to say, Dark Essence Records was quick to snap up.
Through his art, Chioreanu has explored various corners of the musical underground, ranging from melodic crust punk to black metal to avant-garde. Whilst sometimes using his vocals to convey strange torments, his main tool has always been the guitar, making use of a wide range of effects to create never-before heard sounds. He has collaborated with the likes of Rune Eriksen of MAYHEM, AURA NOIR and EARTH ELECTRIC, who he cites as a huge inspiration, and his solo projects have shown a marked leaning towards the magical, atmospheric side, interwoven with waves of light and darkness, which have led to collaborations with the likes of DAVID TIBET and ATTILA CSIHAR.
The unearthly way in which SOFIA SARRI builds her vocals owe a lot to the Island of Crete, from whence she hails. Its vivid blue seas, rough mountains and cedar forests have played a crucial role in creating her unearthly vocal style. Like Choireanu, Sarri has also shown a penchant for metal and avant-garde, but the breadth her artistic vision and talent means that she has never had to remain wedded to any one particular style. She has ranged far and wide, recording with artists associated with free jazz, improvisation and polyphonic choirs before beginning a solo career with her 2017 album “Euphoria” which revealed urban ambient thrills and a remarkable fragility from which she would escape with wild abandon when least expected.
So what exactly are we to expect from a collaboration between a singer whose vocals sound as if she could have come from another dimension, and a multi media artist who is a devotee of avant-garde and whose work has been used by bands such as AT THE GATES, GHOST, SIGH and VULTURE INDUSTRIES to name but a few? Well, “unusual” is the first word that springs to mind, and, without giving too much away, “Afterlife Romance” has been cleverly crafted to mimic a Lo-fi production that makes use of the tension and the eeriness of horror movie soundtracks of the ’70s or ’80s and which, carried by the listener’s nostalgia-based imagination, takes us to a place somewhere between a cult peculiarity and a romantic enchanted experiment.
Chioreanu and Sarri had this to say about their work together on “Afterlife Romance”:
“Afterlife Romance” is the album in which all the musical and conceptual experiences I have so far built came together, and I am beyond excited with the result. However, without Sofia’s gorgeous vocals and her fabulous talent in arranging lyrics and metrics, the result would have been just half of what you will hear. Since I started working with her, and with engineer and producer George Bokos, a new, amazing dimension of magic opened in my life. The final result of our collaboration is very consistent and coherent on all levels, yet extremely complex in terms of musical approach.
The musical fluidity and the overall metamorphosis which describe “Afterlife Romance” bring up a couple of issues when it comes to the genre inclusion of this piece, and so I thought finding a pretty open-minded label for this record would be pretty difficult nowadays. But thanks to the almighty Universe, Dark Essence Records exists and keeps the flame alive in terms of believing in, and doing what it takes to produce music that doesn’t necessarily fit in with any pre-conceived genre definition. I am extremely happy that we found the best home for us, and I know we all aim for the same goal, which is solid music made to stand the test of time.
When Costin invited me to sing on the album I tried to plunge deep into the eerie and complex world he had created. I attempted to embody the storyline’s characters with my voice and tried to narrate it with my lyrics as close to what Costin had imagined all this as possible. Instead of just doing some guest vocals I ended up co-composing and contributing my personal input in order to make an album that adequately represents both of our perspectives in music and art. Writing music is always a mind blowing experience for me, especially when two souls manage to vibrate in synch in different parts of our little planet while floating in this vast universe.
We had an amazing time during the entire process, while exchanging ideas and working on the material, and of course during the actual recordings at Grindhouse Studios in Athens, and it is with great excitement that we are finally ready to present this album to the world thanks to Dark Essence Records. Being a fan of the Norwegian avant-garde/metal/dark music scene since a very tender age, I am more than thrilled to be part of the roster of a label that nourishes and represents this kind of sound. Till October then!
To complement the music itself, Chioreanu will create different illustrations for each song on “Afterlife Romance”, and these will form part of the accompanying booklet. The original artwork itself will appear at exhibitions in various historical locations, art galleries and music festivals during 2019 and 2020.
Full details of the album and exhibitions will be available in the run-up to the release of “Afterlife Romance”, which is expected to be in October of this year.