Stelios Vassiloudis – All Else Fails
Athens producer Stelios Vassiloudis occupies a unique space in electronic music. Classically trained, he’s been using his diverse and extensive musical background since the early 2000’s to craft music rooted in sonic emotion as much as the dancefloor. Favouring intricacy in harmonies and textures, Vassiloudis’s work has always had some cross over into the sphere of ambient and sound art. His brand of house and tech has been rooted in an interest into these more abstract spaces, and on his sophomore album All Else Fails, he is fully embracing this trajectory away from the pulse of the dancefloor and toward more introspective places.
All Else Fails is a clear departure from his club-ready music, but the album reveals an artist who seems to be getting in touch with himself like never before. There’s a quiet vulnerability to tracks like Too Little Too Late, on which gentle tabla beats permeate through waves of thrumming drones. There’s a mournful, contemplative quality to Time To Die, set to the relentless ticking of a clock or the somewhat cathartic, somewhat devastating acceptance of the title track. Created over lockdown, Vassiloudis himself admits that the music reflects this sort of existential dread. ”With the world around us seemingly on the fast track to Armageddon, the music ended up being very much reflective of the sadness and helplessness I felt,” he says of the album. This helplessness also sees him retreat to spaces of comfort. The theme of motherhood and mothering as a form of safety resonates on tracks like Mother and Womb. The former is a bright, harpsichord led piece of trip-hop with sitar accents, a comforting offering that feels like taking a deep breath (we’re excited to premiere the music video for this track below). Womb, slightly darker, looks to express the desire to retreat. A distorted post-punk electric guitar whines through a booming half-time beat, everything sounding enclosed and distant.
Download and stream All Else Fails here
The instrumentation on All Else Fails expands Vassiloudis’s vocabulary with its impressive vastness. Touching on everything from Indian classic, to field recording, to post-punk motifs makes for music that’s incredibly detailed. Though it’s in its quieter moments that All Else Fails is often the most impactful. Avissos is a minimal ambient track, formed from compressed vocal chants and drone synths that intertwine to shape one singular voice. Its melody is haunting, reaching through and lifting you with it as it lilts and floats through time and space. The title track similarly handles its layers delicately, creating an immersive and sweeping soundscape that wraps you in its emotional gravitas.
All Else Fails is a leap for Vassiloudis, but one that ultimately pays off. Allowing us into a new side of his practice and artistic scope reveals a musician with a multitude of layers. It will be exciting to see how he takes this new chapter into his usual tech-house output, if ever he does. Whatever comes next, he’s all the better for following his intuition.
Watch the premiere of the music video for Mother from All Else Fails below.
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