Othon & Tomasini
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Othon & Tomasini

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band Alternative Avant-garde

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"Othon - Impermanence"


Impermanence is the second full-length album from Othon, a Greek born composer and pianist. His debut album, Digital Angel, was an exercise in flamboyance featuring vocal contributions from David Tibet (Current 93), Marc Almond and the expressive range of the cabaret entertainer Ernesto Tomasini. While much of Digital Angel was based solely on piano and voice, Impermanence is much more varied in its compositions with a larger cast of musicians. The talent of Othon is unmistakable right from the beautiful classical piano score of the title track that opens up the album. Touching and melodic; it's particularly beautiful and this instrumental version marks the first of three appearances of this track.

It's followed by 'At Night' a loose jazzy cabaret piece, about the transformative powers of sex, featuring the stunning range of Ernesto Tomasini. Tomasini's voice embraces both cabaret and theatre with ease. The track captures the essence of impermanence as it continually asks where those fleeting moments of feelings, passion, honesty, beauty, kisses, dreams, magic and heaven have gone.

There's a warmth and humanity to be found in the work of Othon. You can hear it in 'A Trip To Paradise' with the interpretive singer Camille O'Sullivan on vocals. Amidst the ringing guitar chords and sweet strings, is a sensual tale of longing but, for me, the sense of love is encapsulated in the simple lines, when over piano notes and yearning strings O'Sullivan begs "Can you come close and hug me, hug me, hug me".

Tomasini's expansive range is given full flight on 'The Fall', written by the erotic award-winning "naked poet" Ernesto Sarezale. Tomasini's voice soars, switching between falsetto and softly-spoken, as flute gently meanders, shadowed by soft piano notes or bashing piano chords. Lyrically there's an absurdity and theatricality - with lyrics ranging from blood and sperm to a boy metaphorically described as an angel with a wounded wing - that allows this to fare favourably with Antony and the Johnsons 'I Fell In Love With A Dead Boy'.

Sadness and loss isn't confined to the lyrics of Impermanence you can hear it on the instrumental track 'Mystery Star Dance'. It's just as emotive, as it dances from passages of tender piano notes to mournful cello. There's a distinct sadness to be found in the sorrow-filled cello score. Having said that; set against a sweeping string section, 'All Is Too Soon' cuts straight to the heart with Othon on lead vocal. Othon's accented voice maybe doesn't rate when compared to the other vocalists but the emotion in his voice is endearing and hard to miss, as he fondly remembers a childhood friend whose life was lost to drug addiction. Amidst the tinkling bells and weeping strings, it's a moving epitaph that encapsulates the sense of acceptance of a life wasted that is truly enriching at the silky hands of this rough piano boy.

Another of my favourites here is 'A Little Dream'. The combination of harp and oboe is beguiling and coupled with the pure voice of Ernesto Tomasini as he pleads for an acquaintance with a street boy. The effect as it moves from tender desire to vicious longing, wrapped up in the most beautiful score topped off with strings, is positively stunning.

Marc Almond makes his first guest appearance on the second appearance of 'Impermanence' - also featuring Justin Jones of And Also the Trees on guitar. Here Almond's voice is rich and full-bodied, swathed in a chorus of angelic voices and a thick layer of keyboards, as he embodies the full feeling of the transient nature of life and love, and the refusal to accept the "impermanence of it all".

Almond appears on the next track too. Almond made some fine contributions to Digital Angel but he eclipses those appearances with his vocal on 'Last Night I Paid To Close My Eyes' - an alternate version also available on itunes with Tomasini on lead vocal. Overtly theatrical, Almond's voice floats, over the piano with passages of - Compulsion Online


"Othon Impermanence (with Ernesto Tomasini. Marc Almond & Camille O'Sullivan)"

I first met Othon Mataragas in Austria at Donaufestival '07 (curated by David Tibet) where he was performing with Current 93. Since then, he has been on the soundtrack to the Bruce LaBruce film Otto; or Up With Dead People and then part of a live accompaniment to the Derek Jarman film The Angelic Conversation, orchestrated by Peter Christopherson. I've seen Othon contribute his pianist skills to Ron Athey's automatic writing performance in London (Gifts of the Spirits), and he is currently working on an collaboration with artist Franko B (Because of Love). His debut album, Digital Angel, focused on childhood nightmares of corporations taking over our identities and features a lovely rendition of Coil's "The Dreamer is Still Asleep," sung by David Tibet. His second album, Impermanence, is provocative, filled with torment that is presented in a profound yet light-hearted way. Othon's arrangements are gorgeous and timeless.

The opening title track starts out with an exalting, classical instrumental track by Othon alone at the piano. He is credited in the liner notes as contributing piano and celeste to the album: quite a stunning start, demanding full attention as if whispering for us to pay attention. The lyrics of "The Fall," written by poet Ernesto Sarezale, lend themselves to showcase Tomasini's four-octave vocal range and tell a morbid love story of nurturing a wounded stranger who is represented metaphorically by a fallen angel. "Mystery Star Dance" is the second instrumental on the album, a striking and epic piece filled with sorrow and intensity, featuring Othon's exquisite piano paired with cello by Jacob Shirley. Othon's only vocal contribution to the album, "All Is Too Soon," is warm and touching as he recalls memories of a childhood friend lost; his Greek accent is endearing in this tragic tale. "A Little Dream" has a hint of David Tibet vocal style in Tomasini's whispering apocalyptic tones. The second instance of the title track-- "Impermanence +" features the lovely sullen voice of Marc Almond. This track seems to be inviting us into another world. The lyrics are melancholy and dark, as is the delivery: "cold is the sun / black shines the moon / and birds have sharp teeth / the flies killing eyes."

The single of the album, "Last Night I Paid To Close My Eyes" is sung by Marc Almond on the album version. The single version and the music video both feature Tomasini in Marc's place. Both feature a choir of backing vocalists including Beverly Crone (The Cesarians). Ernesto's appearance in the music video is all at once striking, ostentatious, and enigmatic-- an element of whimsy to go with the theatrics of it all.

The final track of the album, also titled "Impermanence" is sung by Tomasini entirely in falsetto with a soprano register—delivered with a dramatic, cinematic effect. It is accompanied by magic organ from this track's producer, Troy Banarzi. Something wicked has become of something once sacred—an end is near, and his final words of the album resonate so strongly you'll likely be inclined to give the album another listen and momentarily deny the message they propose: "gone are the ships / lost is all hope / but I deny to believe / I deny to accept / the impermanence of it all."

As stated in an interview, Othon is often laughing inside during even his most painful performances. There is madness here, and it is meant to make us feel both terrified and giddy at the same time. Othon mentioned that the slogan of the album is "everything withers & everything dies," and it celebrates both the pain of life and the joy of dying. When we die, the chemical DMT is released into our brains as we leave our bodies, arguably the last earthly mindset we experience before moving from this existence to the next. Therefore, we should be at peace with ourselves upon death, or we may end up in a perpetual bad trip: perhaps the definition of Hell? Illustrated on the album's gorgeous cover artwork by - Brainwashed


"Marc Almond guests at Chelsea Theatre"

The last night of Chelsea Theatre’s SACRED season presented the electric performance duo Othon & Tomasini along with supporting act Laura Moody and a guest appearance by Marc Almond.
As Laura Moody began the night with her cello, her experimental pop style grabbed the audience’s attention: this was something different. Were we going to like this? But with her high-pitched voice, her music became mesmerising as if her initial songs had lulled us into a false state of presumed expectations. By the end of the set, Moody had successfully transfixed an entire auditorium.

Next up was Othon Mataragas as he took to a grand piano, dressed in bondage headgear. First impressions were avant-garde but his style in music was pure classical. As his fingers danced across the piano keys, the whole room was yet again spellbound. The evening took another surprising turn with the baroque performance of Ernesto Tomasini whose theatricality transported us to another time and place: 1930s cabaret.

We were also lucky enough to listen to work in progress by Othon & Tomasini because for the last few years, Tomasini has been Othon’s muse and their musical chemistry heralds pure originality. At one point during their performance, Othon accompanied Tomasini donning boxing gloves as he bashed the piano keys surprisingly successfully.

Their special guest, Marc Almond, contradicted Tomasini’s melodramatic performance. Instead, Almond was haunting. He was quiet and he pulled the audience to the edge of their seats as they hung on to each note. It was a far cry from the Soft Cell post-punk days. This time, Marc Almond was gothic.

For the last stage of the evening, Marc Almond left the performance space as Laura Moody and Tomasini returned to end what was an evening that reminded me, music can still be entertaining and original. - The Notebook


"Impermanence (the single) by Othon with Ernesto Tomasini"

If you are a fan of Othon and already have the album Impermanence, you will be familiar with the title track being released today as a single. However, if you are new to this incredible talent, allow yourself to be wooed as the introductory bars of music gather you as might a fugue or cantata by Bach and then, give permission to be seduced by a sublime sense of clarity as the lyrics set the stage for this undeniably original and moving song.

Ernesto Tomasini’s perfect counter-tenor opens and translates every second of meaning of a song which, in its majesty yearns for love, for connection and mourns the impermanence of love. “Bleached are the seas Nitrified are the skies” calls out just before the song gathers momentum and as the singer reaches out to you “Crying out for some help” you may be forgiven if you have turned the music up louder than usual and are being swept away in the theatrical but no less dramatic heartbeat the music makes.

Othon’s musical genius, fresh and unpredictable, demands respect and no sooner than the listener commits to the track, it is, as it is entitled, simply a metaphor of Impermanence and the majestic beauty that seemed to inhabit your blood, your bones and even the synovial fluid in every nook and cranny of your body, has gone. And perhaps, just like that all consuming love that disappears, the track ends leaving us with a space, newly created, now needing to be filled. Don’t worry – it can be.

Impermanence the instrumental track, is also on this single and although different from the lyrical version, is equally as moving and as you listen to it. The listener is easily into a personal landscape, inventing scenarios and as it ends, after both tracks together, there is a sense of the lingering kiss, the memory of the moment that love affords still in the air. Luckily for the listener, it’s easy to set the ipod to repeat again and again, enjoy such inspiring and thought provoking music that Othon never fails to deliver. - The Pandorian


Discography

Digital Angel: album by Othon feat. Ernesto Tomasini, Marc Almond & David Tibet Label: Durtro-Jnana

Last Night I Paid to Close My Eyes: Single by Othon with Marc Almond & Ernesto Tomasini Label: Cherry Red Records/SFE

Impermanence: Album by Othon feat. Ernesto Tomasini, Marc Almond & Camille O'Sullivan Label: Cherry Red Records/SFE

Impermanence: Single by Othon with Ernesto Tomasini
Label: Cherry Red Records/SFE

Mystery Star Dance, When I leave You, Impermanence, Tango Song, Last Night I Paid to Close My Eyes had all airplays in England & Europe

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Bio

Up and coming cutting edge, London-based duo Othon & Tomasini, have thrilled audiences all over Europe with their electric, unorthodox performance style. Othon's uncompromising songwriting and virtuoso piano playing perfectly match Tomasini's staggering 4-octave range and idiosyncratic theatricality. They mix and tease cabaret, pop and punk with opera histrionics and post romantic melodrama, moving from the darkest corners of the psyche to the most joyous spaces of the human heart.

Othon’s critically acclaimed albums, “Digital Angel” (2008, Durtro) and “Impermanence” (2011, Cherry Red/SFE), feature Ernesto Tomasini (alongside Marc Almond, David Tibet of Current 93 and Camille O’Sullivan). Three singles (one with Almond/Tomasini) and two music videos (the second premiered, in 2012, at Tate Britain, in London) complete their disco/videography together. They also feature on the soundtrack of Bruce La Bruce's movie "Otto; or, Up with Dead People". In 2008 they were chosen by the late Peter Christopherson (legendary "father of industrial music", founder of seminal bands Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle and Coil) to be part of a live performance of his 1985 soundtrack for Derek Jarman's "The Angelic Conversation". The forthcoming documentary “Heavenly Voices” (in which Tomasini’s performance style is examined alongside those of the world’s leading countertenors) features extensive interviews to both artists. In 2010 they were the subject of a one hour special on Spanish National Radio, in which they performed live for the second time.
 
Their appearances in the English capital include a performance at the 2008 London Fashion Week (for Lady Gaga's milliner Nasir Mazhar), a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and a spot at the Roundhouse where, as Marc Almond's special guests, they performed before a captive audience of 3000. In 2010 they made their West End debut at the Leicester Square Theatre and played to capacity at the National Portrait Gallery. 2011 saw the launch of the “Impermanence” album at the Chelsea Theatre with an all-star line-up that included Almond and Justin Jones (And Also The Trees). In 2012 they were invited to take part to Trinity College of Music’s Centenary celebrations for John Cage’s birth and last November, their sold out concert in London’s Shoreditch Church, was a perfect example of the duo’s penchant for a full spectacle, with guests Elizabeth McGorian (from the Royal Ballet) and Indian temple dancer Ash Mukherjee.

Othon & Tomasini are Greek songwriter/composer/pianist Othon Mataragas and Italian actor/singer Ernesto Tomasini.

Othon performed as a child prodigy on Greek Television and won several national piano competitions. In 1997 he moved to London to study piano at the Royal College of Music and composition at Trinity College of Music, winning, in 2005, the John Halford Prize as a pianist. Othon is the founder of PAN muzik, an all-inclusive musical expression that transcends the limitations of existing musical styles. He has collaborated with several artists from different disciplines including bands (Current 93, Black Sun Productions), fellow composers and writers (Stephen Montague, Martin Hall), dance producers (Adam Lab4) and performance artists (Ron Athey, Franko B and David Hoyle). His music was performed at the National Portrait Gallery in London, on the occasion of a contemporary art exhibition. His soundtrack for LaBruce is not his only one: In 2009 he created the score for a re-release of Jörg Buttgereit's "Nekromantik" and he has recently completed the score for Ravi Thornton’s graphic novel ‘The Tale of Brin & Bent and Minno Marylebone’. Othon is currently working on his new project /album PINEAL.

www.othonmataragas.com

Ernesto Tomasini has entertained audiences for over 20 years: from his beginnings in Italian cabaret to experimental theatre around the world, from his work with the Lindsay Kemp Company to West End musicals, from small roles in Hollywood films to major ones on British television; not to mention his own provocative productions, which he took from the Edinburgh Festival to international tours. In 2007 he started to lend his voice
to experimental music. He is singer/songwriter of the band Almagest!, with which he has released two albums and has performed around Europe, in venues like the Volksbuehne in Berlin. In 2011 he co-founded the noise music group Trans4Leben, which opened the Drop Dead Festival in Berlin. He has sung live and on record for Andrew Liles (Nurse With Wound) and was special guest, with Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), at the 2008 Current 93 QEH concert. As soloist he has sung in London’s Royal Albert Hall (main house and Elgar Room), Purcell Room, National Theatre and Tate Britain, alongside other historic venues around the world. In March 2012 he was included in the book “Italian Excellence”, presented by the President of the Republic of Italy, for “representing his country abroad”.

www.ernestotomasini.com