It’s safe to say that Christina Vantzou’s remarkable debut, No. 1, is criminally underrated, but her follow-up effort, appropriately titled No. 2, will not go unnoticed.
Vantzou is a good fit on Kranky, who has been serving up some of the best ambient-related music in the US over the past two decades. As one half of Dead Texan (RIP), Vantzou operates in a similar sphere as many on the label’s roster: contemplative ambient music with hints of classical and/or experimental music. No. 1, in particular, was likely overshadowed by Dustin O’Halloran and Adam Wiltzie’s blockbuster debut as A Winged Victory for the Sullen, which also fashioned a sound not unlike that found on No.1 and predated it by two months (interestingly enough, AWVFTS also has a new album out this year). No. 2 was constructed over the course of four years and sees Vantzou once again collaborating with Magik Magik Orchestra’s Minna Choi. Those enamored by the debut should fall comfortably back in love with Vantzou’s sound on No. 2, which exists in close proximity to that which was pioneered three years ago. The real draw of Vantzou’s sound remains the connection she makes with the audience and the ability to give it a personal tone, rather than constructing heady ambient music or clinical-sound classical music. Vantzou tightly weaves video into her live performance, so it’s not a stretch to imagine that she’s greatly invested in the multitude of ways in which music can transform a listener’s perception.
By the album’s close, two things become apparent. The first is that No. 2 will likely be on a lot of shortlists for best ambient album (or album at large) of the year, and the second is that Vantzou is rightfully due up for a larger amount of the spotlight than she currently takes.