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Discovered by Bjork, this young Greek exile in London shares the Icelandic fairy’s taste for vocal audacity and a capacity to create unique worlds through sound. He is releasing his first album, moulded with mythological references which make for a spellbinding journey to musical climes. At the crossroads of Arthur Russell, Matmos and Eyeless in Gaza, one has rarely heard a sound-alchemist master so effortlessly machines (diaphanous beats, insect crackling), instrumental arrangements (cello, harp, oneiric harpsichord) and singing; from the emotive exaltation in Prediction to the radical strangeness of Dance or Love Song, it's a unique mix of sighs, coughs and strangulations. - Le Monde


Mikhail Karikis, who goes by only his first name, creates an often-astonishing debut album with Orphica - at once a reinterpretation of Greek mythic tropes and the kind of elegantly unsettled art rock that draws less on well-known male artists and more on strong female performers [...] Orphica quite strikingly acts as a model for how a male artist can interpret the fluid, unique arrangements of musicians such as Kate Bush and Laurie Anderson, not to mention any number of their artistic descendants worldwide. As a result, Mikhail's work is hard to draw an exact bead on, with his work suggesting the soundtrack to a movie that ranges from Balkan medieval dances to crumbling technological overload, often within the space of the same song. His equally theatrical vocals, with gasps, sudden aggression, and a mournful keen rarely heard outside of performers such as Eyeless in Gaza's Martyn Bates, add to the unsettling effect, and as a result Orphica is an album that rewards careful attention and repeated listening -- what seems to make sense at one point later seems strange and alien again in context. Songs such as "Maenads," with its sudden rhythm shift and shivering string interjections, and the swirling glitch attack of the almost aptly titled "Mythical Laboratory" are fine highlights, but the album is best appreciated as a whole. If a song has to be picked, though, then "Argonautica," with its overdubbed choirs, swooping notes, and strong rhythmic hits - all designed to maximize the drama of an already melodramatic piece - might have to be it. Orphica is a singular debut by a talented performer, and the future looks promising. - All Music Guide


[Mikhail] provides [...] a commentary on both Josquin’s music and this broader ‘polyphonic’ narrative. Generally they work with pulsating harmonies and rather minimalist repetitions over which his differentiated voice is floated. He has an extraordinary vocal range – from animalistic growls to extremely high, pure tone. In this context his work appears as an emotional address, which hints at a contemporary secularised eroticism, in answer to – or even embellishment upon – the devotional ecstasy of Josquin. In these shorter pieces, Karikis projected into the space well and, as variation, took up various positions in the chapel for each one. The more corporeal sounds of Prediction or Unitiled in Cof Minor (a pun on ‘cough’) presented an extended timbre, which attempts to correlate the resonating chamber of the body with the Gothic cavity of the chapel itself, which in its own way is already present in the Jospquin pieces themselves. - Art Monthly


[...] it's avant-garde. Well then… the beginning of Orphica is a little rough, trying to deprive the listener of the beauty which unravels from track two. No wonder the opening piece – called Untitled in Cof Minor – was picked by wonder-artist Björk […] What comes here after (Björk) is post-modern music, somehow pop or post-rock, without pop and without rock, but definitely post. Something was there before and is now gone; what is happening in Orphica is overcoming, being overcome, and being over it. Overall, this is catchy, flowing music with many strings, cut-up techniques and sampling. Elfish music in the style of Sigur Ros, with a similarly headstrong, other-worldly singing, without however sounding like any of the Icelanders. Orchestral fragmentation and recycling is nothing new in itself, but is put together by Mikhail's talented hands and with a necessary dose of escapism, without carrying the heavy load of seriousness of classic sound-collage. There are convincing voice experiments in the direction of Diamanda Galas. So, what Mikhail offers is totally different, known and yet new. The Inchtabokatables have tried something similar with Mitten in Krieg – but unfortunately failed from a commercial perspective. Orphica will also explode too many hearing habits in the year 2007, but there might be a mass of admirers and if it is only through the name of Björk – nevermind, what counts is that interest is generated for this wonderfully light and yet complex music. (9/10) - Orkus


What electronica often lacks is depth! Admittedly, this album is already dramatic thanks to Mikhail Karikis’s emotional singing, and of course thanks to the fact that elecrtonica is here only a supplement and the songs are carried by acoustic instruments. None of Mikhail’s songs lack in being gripping. Not for nothing did he shine for the first time on a compilation by Björk. Bats recorded in Orpheus’ cave on Mount Olympus are also briefly integrated and are an indication that archaic baroque can playfully be combined with high-tech experiments. The mythical is enhanced by quotations from folk, harpsichord and strings, and overall this production from London appears modern and fresh. A wonderful masterpiece! - Skug


Orphica is […] one of the more unique concoctions of music that I've heard in some time, mixing together everything from subtle electronics and avant-garde to Greek folk and even a Victorian sensibility at times.

In other words, it's certainly not out-of-the ordinary to hear harpsichord, violin, dramatic vocals, and blippy electronics all bumping up against one another in the same track. That's exactly what happens during the first two songs of the release, with "Untitled in CoF Minor" opening the release with clipped, plucked, and filtered strings, woodwinds, and harpsichord bowing and darting around while Karikis adds his wailing, and occasionally growling vocals. It's an odd combination, both primal and futuristic at the same time, and it sets the tone for what's to come on the rest of the release. "Asteris" follows, and starts off with a gorgeous combination of string quartet and programmed rhythms that builds with timpani rolls and some unique processing. Once the vocals of Karikis enter the mix, the track takes on a slightly more dramatic feel, pushing into almost operatic places at times, before dissolving into field recordings and deconstructed electronics.

[…] Karikis […] grunts, growls, and yelps his vocals, with all kinds of guttural noises and tics that sound like everything from throat-clearing to hiccups to hypnotized chanting. On "Argonautica," a full chorus of male background vocals comes for power over the top of a string-laced, electro growler that's truly strange […] the twelve song, forty-five minute album is a gorgeous mixture of archaic and futuristic […] - Almost Cool


Discography

- Bjork, ARMY OF ME, One Little Indian 2005
- Mikhail (solo album) ORPHICA, Quatermass/Sub Rosa 2007
- Mikhail, Josquin Desprez, FOR YOU ONLY YOU, Oxford University 2007
- Various (including Scanner & Stephen Vitiello), BEND IT LIKE BECKETT, Aphasia Records 2007
- Dj Spooky, SOUND UNBOUND, Sub Rosa 2008
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LIST OF TRACKS BROADCAST ON RADIO/TV

Untitled in CoF Minor
Asteris
Maenads
Drumming
Incubus
For you only you
Love Song

Photos

Bio

Greek-born and London-based Mikhail was first spotted by Bjork and Graham Massey who selected him to remix Bjork's music and released it internationally on One Little Indian in 2005. Since then, legendary Belgian label Sub Rosa released Mikhail's solo album Orphica (2007) to critical acclaim. Coined by critics a 'sound alchemist' (Le Monde) and a 'primitive futurist' (Almost Cool), Mikhail combines musical innovation, electronica, strikingly raw vocal and emotional expression, and postmodern genre-bending. Recent projects include collaborations with world class vocal ensembles including memebrs of The Hilliard and The Tallis Schollars, commissions for PRADA's advertising campaign and remixes by Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid on his seminal "Sound Unbound" album alongside Aphex Twin, Steve Reich and Sonic Youth.