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1 Layers of Faith | MP3 Clip 2 Obliterated Alcove | MP3 Clip '3 Peel Away This Mortal Coil 4 Cerulean Facade | MP3 Clip 5 De-altared | MP3 Clip
& Alio Die: Echo Passage ~ SALE $5
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(featuring Steve Roach): The Shaman's Heart II
Deconsecrated and Pure is an evocative liturgy from the realm where electronic music meets acoustic drones, found objects, sacral voices and field recordings.
Italian ambient-acoustic sonic sculptor Stefano Musso returns for his first solo Alio Die release on Projekt in 20 years. Don't get the idea he's been on vacation, however! Since 1992 he has released 37 collaborative CDs and 19 solo CDs; this makes Deconsecrated and Pure Alio Die's 20th solo release! Welcome back!
The processed traditional instruments and natural textures float alongside rich electro-organic drones, creating a perfect introspective soundtrack with a medieval and sacral atmosphere. Serene and meditative textures combine in a chorus of circular and interwoven sounds, reflecting the harmony of the cosmos as an opus of inner stillness.
Processed and layered into the mix are vocal pieces by Claudio Merulo. The work of this 16th century Venetian Renaissance composer was performed by Paolo Tognon and Quoniam Ensemble di Dulciane and De Labyrintho Ensemble Della Rinascenza, creating the essence of a historical religious feel. The gradual evolution of the arrangements create a strong impression that the listener has been carried across time and space. Elements such as sonically-tampered Middle East horns (The dulciana, a sort of early basoon/oboe), solemn atmospheres of the courts of the Italian Renaissance, and evocative soundscapes cosmic and ethereal combine for holiness and trascendence.
To create this work, Stefano selected fragments of sessions recorded with the acoustic instruments, modifying them through multi-layered loops. Pitch and frequencies changed, effects were added, other sound objects were played and processed into the mix. This was further augmented with the electronics and field recordings adding more layers metamorphosizing the whole atmosphere into a deep trance mood. What makes Alio Die's compositions glow is the attention to detail and fluidity; something from the background floats to the foreground as it is slowly modified, or perhaps it's the gentle addition of a bagpipe or stringed instruments. It all intertwines through constant modulation, addition of atmospheric sounds, and re-contextualization.
Marvelously floating and hauntingly expressive, Deconsecrated and Pure feels like a liturgical poem within an archaic mausoleum distorted by time.
Alio Die is the name of Stefano Musso's shimmering, expansive dronescaping project. Musso's work began in electro-acoustic research and he started to work under the name Alio Die in 1989. He is also known for his fruitful collaboration with artists such as Robert Rich, Vidna Obmana, Mathias Grassow and others. His personal musical signature is a hybrid between sonic sonorous soundscapes and acoustic mysticism. A poignant and ecstatic journey of sounds.
For those not very fond of 'ambient' music, the sheer productivity and release rate of some of the artists can lead to sarcastic jokes about how easy it must be to create this "kind of music". But numbers are often deceiving: some of these prolific artists manage to produce a surprising variety of well-constructed music that manage to surprise with almost every new release.
Alio Die (Stefano Russo, Italy) definitely is one of those artists. At the time I found out about Deconsecrated and Pure (which was released in march 2012, as his 56th release!), at least two new titles have been added to his impressive discography . But just forget that release rate and focus on this very album.
Deconsecrated and Pure may be 'ambient' in nature, but it has the sound and beauty of mediaeval polyphonic music. There is a perfect balance of the acoustic parts (sampled from vocal pieces by 16th century Venetian Renaissance composer Claudio Merulo ), the wind instruments ("sonically-tampered" Middle-East horns like the dulciana ), and the clever, subtly placed electronic accents and field recording fragments.
The multi-layered loops do not feel like loops, because of their careful polyphonic timing and changes in pitch. This especially makes the first two tracks ("Layers of Faith" and "Obliterated Alcove") feel like they could have been an existing composition, performed by an orchestra and whoir, with additional electronics. here is a fascinating moment in "Obliterated Alcove", when the loops seem to retreat to the background, to make room to present the vocal main theme (ca. 6 minutes in the track presented below). These two opening tracks will probably also appeal to listeners not specifally interested in "electronic music". But from there, in the latter half of this album, Stefano Russo ventures into a more abstract approach to the basic material. The music still has obvious references to the original material, but there is some dissonance creeping in. It feels like you're slowly drifting out of touch with reality.
If you want comparisons, I'd say there are references to music from Arvo Pärt, Biosphere and a little bit of William Basinski on the side. But it's not often you'll come across a distinctly different sound like this. The risk of being this prolific is that some works may easily be missed. Please do yourself a favour and do not make that mistake with Deconsecrated and Pure!
On Deconsecrated and Pure Alio Die introduces a totally airy atmosphere of almost meditative origin. A combination of field recordings with sonic soundscapes exists in all 5 long tracks. The first of them is "Layers of Faith", where different natural sounds like water splashing, wind blowing and others are carved into the texture of the wide ambiance created by a loopy background melody as light as a very thin cloud driven by gentle breath of nature. This melody is circling and flowing out of the speakers forcing the air around to tinkle with the bells of primal energy. The constant stream of sound brings the second track "Obliterated Alcove", where the choral voices enter the scene to add more sacral feeling into the music, which again stays very light and airy. The vocal parts are processed from the compositions of Claudio Merulo, 16th century Venetian Renaissance composer, and were performed by Paolo Tognon and Quoniam Ensemble di Dulciane and De Labyrintho Ensemble Della Rinascenza; they contribute a little bit of grief into the sonic layers of this track together with a slight touch of liturgy.
"Peel Away this Mortal Coil" is a very deep exploration of wide plains of imagination to drown inside pure lake of feelings, to remove all the negativism and dirt of everyday constant race after the frail goods. And only when you peel away your mortal coil, you can reach the shores of sedation and find piece with yourself and divine. In "Cerulean Fasade" the message is clear again, pushed towards relaxation and meditation, where the sound movement is slow, fool of wide colors, and an able paint brush creates an aquarelle of light emotions.
Just in time, when I already thought that I could not dive deeper, comes the final composition called "De-Altared". Few string instruments added here, some bell clicking and ticking, natural sounds are all around, viscous melody covers me with its cerement and guides into the very depth of lethargy.
As the conclusion, the new album from Alio Die is a good example of what ambient music can be when it reaches the highest levels of creativity. Even without being something innovative, this record presents a lot of delights to ambient fans, bringing a solid meditative mood combined with reflections of Stefano's personal abstract and mysterious experience. Without a doubt, Alio Die proves once again its credibility of being one of the most recognizable and talented names at ambient scene for the past 20 years. Rating: 8/10 -Andrew
Clearly, Deconsecrated and Pure is a deeply engaging piece of work. Musso’s use of processed acoustic instruments–notably the dulciana, a type of oboe–embeds an organic depth in the flow. While they retain an ambient texture, there’s a notable solidity to their tones that rises up in spots. The field recordings and even gentle tapping on metal, very earthy, present sounds, are gingerly placed as concrete elements in the otherwise empyrean atmospheres Musso creates. This is the product of a master at work. Listen to it many times over; there’s a lot to hear, all worth the effort of listening closely.
Despite all these layers, the tone is light as air and the air is illuminated with dazzling rays of light. The pleasant cadences that caress the ear belie the meticulous arrangement Musso invests in his five mystery tableaux—his detailed construction of repeating, slowly shapeshifting motifs is nothing short of miraculous.
Stefano Musso has been retro-soundscaping the late Middle Ages and dawn of the Renaissance all by himself, especially in the last few years with works such as Il Giardino Ermeneutico, La Sala Dei Cristalli and Horas Tibi Serenas. In a cosmology that stemmed back to the ancient Greeks, the Medieval earth nestled at the very centre, as a perfectly-proportioned universe revolved gently around it. According to this perception, the heavens were immutable and harmonious while the earth was transient and corruptable. Thus mankind strove to create works of great beauty and symmetry to bring order to the world, and to please God by doing so.
Recordinig for nearly a quarter-century under the name Alio Die, few electronic composers work as bewitchingly with acoustic sound sources as Musso. Here he has processed and layered vocal pieces by 16th century Venetian composer Claudio Merulo as performed by the Quoniam Ensemble di Dulciane and De Labyrintho Ensemble Della Rinascenza. Fragments of choir song and small early-music ensemble both rich and pellucid metamorphose from straightforward recording to abstract clouds of unknowing as they are treated, looped and looped again, and augmented with Musso’s electronics and field recordings.
Despite all these layers, the tone is light as air and the air is illuminated with dazzling rays of light. The pleasant cadences that caress the ear belie the meticulous arrangement Musso invests in his five mystery tableaux—his detailed construction of repeating, slowly shapeshifting motifs is nothing short of miraculous. The middle track, “Peel Away This Mortal Coil,” is the earthiest piece, full of reeds and pipes and donkey bells, perhaps one of those day-long village fests of fools and misrule.
Why deconsecrated and pure? Maybe Alio Die, our contemporary, turns the ancient worldview upside-down, having embraced as we have the evidence that the heavens roil and constantly expand, while it is we puny humans who are capable of creating purity and symmetry out of our robust, if not individually eternal, mortality.
The albums digipak artwork features pictures of a semi derelict looking monastery or temple. And really these images are deeply apt as all the five tracks on offer here feel deeply of centuries of religious devotion, the feeling of ancient pilgrimages & a general feeling of timeless religious peace, tranquility and wonder. Musso utilizes a mixture choral samples, Middle East horns, acoustic instrumentation- such as flutes, wind chimes & vibes, plus a subtle use of field recording. These elements he blends into scared, rising & warming ambient sound scapes & electro-organic drone-scapes, which seem to slowly dart, melt & glow around one ears.
Through there are quite a few elements here that could suggest new age type ambient fluffiness & twee sonic boredom, thankfully Musso manages to side step all of those pitfalls to create an album that feels out of time, yet alive with warming & harmonic spiritual richness.
So if you’re after bright, yet hazy & heady ambient music with a distinctive religious grounding- you’ll find a lot to savor here. But if you're after darker more chilling ambience it’s best to look some place else. -Roger Batty
Comprensibile, vista l'estrema prolificità del personaggio, il timore che dopo aver cavalcato per anni l'onda cosmico-ambientale '80 nella sua incarnazione maggiormente new age, in parte spentasi con il sopraggiungere dell'ambient di derivazione dronica, le ultime (numerosissime) release di Alio Die possano essere almeno in parte esercizi di stile su un cliché piuttosto facile da ricalcare. Ma proprio per via di questa facilità, fin troppo in grado di tramutarsi in impossibilità di evoluzione, l'elemento primo di giudizio di un'opera inserita in tale filone è la capacità di emozionare, di dar luogo a suggestioni ed evocazioni. E, se Alio Die è da sempre un maestro in quest'arte, con "Deconsecrated And Pure" riesce a centrare probabilmente il capolavoro di una carriera, l'apice massimo di equilibrio tra le fonti del suo sound e la capacità di trasmissione della sua musica.
Cinque lunghi brani, cinque strade originate da un unico centro e viaggianti verso orizzonti diversi, un labirinto di arcane profezie e sogni moderni, un caleidoscopio di civiltà e costumi, un oceano dalle distanze profonde. Sconsacrato e puro, il profano che purifica la propria anima slegandosi dal sacro, pur non perdendo la caratura onirica di quest'ultimo. Mondi paralleli, distanti ma sulla stessa orbita. "Deconsecrated And Pure" è una scultura sonora che raggiunge e oltrepassa gli orizzonti dell'ambient stessa, toccandone ogni confine, tracciando coordinate difficilmente capaci di inventare, ma in grado di raggiungere una carica emotiva che ha ben pochi precedenti.
E così, "Layers Of Faith" è l'inchino di un guru del dark-ambient alle eteree distese sintetiche portate in trionfo dapprima da Tim Clark e Michael Amerlan, poi cavalcate da nomi come Thom Brennan e Max Corbacho. "Dronica" nell'incedere ma non nell'estetica, sentimentale ma scenicamente glaciale. Il non-legame tra sacro e profano è il tema di "Obliterated Arcove": come può suonare la musica sacra se estratta dal suo contesto principe? È la ricerca verso la quale opta il brano, memore di quanto già sperimentato in passato da fin troppi nomi, non ultimo dei quali il John Foxx del capolavoro "My Lost City", e l'arrivo è fra i lidi di una potenza spirituale persino maggiore, pura per davvero. Un coro che è tutto fuorché gregoriano, sconsacrato proprio come nel titolo alla base dell'album, impegnato in vocalizzi arcaici tra ancestrali costellazioni elettroniche. L'omaggio alle nuove tendenze arriva con "Peel Away This Mortal Coil", nella quale sostrati di tastiere lievemente distratte da vibrazioni quasi impercettibili ricalcano i tappeti in esondazione del miglior Eluvium e i flussi languidi di Pan American. Poi, una virata verso fondali perduti, mondi sublunari e metafisici, melodie che cullano il vuoto in "Cerulean Facade", in direzione di una simbiosi con i linguaggi della malinconia di Jeff Grienke e Rudy Adrian. E infine, a concludere un viaggio che pare non poter finire, la quiete vitale di un abbraccio artico mai parso così caldo, nella desolazione di un vuoto mai così pieno di spunti, "De-Altared" che sintetizza vent'anni di ricerca - mistico trattato di legame tra immagine e musica, tra ambiente e suono circostante.
Dopo quasi due decadi di incessante attività, una ricerca tra misticismo, oscurità, sacro e profano, Alio Die riesce nella difficile impresa di riassumere in un solo album i risultati di un'intera scena musicale. E non lo fa certo attraverso la ricerca della perfetta formalità (come per esempio riuscì a Brian Eno in "Music For Airports"), ma andando a concentrarsi interamente sulla tipologia di emozioni intrinseche dell'elemento sonoro, riuscendo così a iniettare la sua musica evocativa all'interno delle immagini stesse, formando un legame per sua stessa definizione inseparabile. Ovvero, quel che pare scontato sia elemento proprio di ogni release ambient, ma che è in realtà a suffragio di un'élite piuttosto risicata, della quale lascia almeno una punta d'orgoglio sapere faccia parte anche un italiano. Rating: 8 out of 10
The electronics are mainly textural. Drones are crafted into luxurious tonalities that waft on breezes of their own self-generation. These elongated pulsations interweave with each other, producing a pacific flow of delicate beauty. The result is a vaporous environment of soft sonic definition which expands to seemingly fill the universe. A percentage of these textures are very reminiscent of the tones produced by caressed wine glasses, an eerie resonance brimming with heavenly character.
Medieval chorales enhance the music's overall reverence, bestowing a celestial mood intended to uplift as they lull. Incidental sounds (chains, bells, rattled bottles and twinkling glass) serve as haunting punctuations immersed within the airy mix.
These compositions transform atmospheric auralscapes devoted to assisting the human psyche to achieve a state of introspection wherein mankind can catch a glimpse of God's handiwork in the world around us. While chiefly harmonic in nature, melodic traces inject the drones with an attractive subliminal presence.
An anchorite craftsman of a monastic and dreamlike musical world, Alio Die (Stefano Musso) unfolds its abstracted musical paintings on dark and ecclesiastical works since the beginning of the 90’s. This Italian musician, who is much more a sculptor of musical forms than a keyboardist/synthesist fond of long and complex sequenced structures, has built himself an enviable reputation in the circle of dark ambient EM, as prove it his about forty albums realized in collaborations with various artists in search of musical paintings to nature ecclesiastical meditative. His 20th solo album is a mix of coldness and poetry in a stifling ambiance tetanized by layers with tones molded in a mixture of metal and angels' sighs which glide in oblivion.
Very poetic and musical breaths, sounding as plaintive oboes, open "Layers of Faith". Serene and meditative, the mood is divested of rhythms and leans on subtle modulations which walk "Layers of Faith" in some mesmerizing ecclesiastical corridors. It’s a long contemplative canvas where layers of synth, or other instruments sculptors of sounds, crisscross and float among fine ringing, immersing the listener in a strange monasterial tranquility. More bright than somber, "Layers of Faith" is intubated by fine nets of flutes which chant seraphic tunes on a long musical sculpture where discreet choruses roam beyond strange rustles which rob the serenity of a secret bass line’s oscillations. I quite liked it, especially since the pattern plunges me into Michael Stearns's ambient works.
"Cerulean Facade" embraces the same meditative outline with iridescent layers and rippling waves which propel the delicate ringing of prismatic carillons. More immured with its angelic choruses which hum a sanctified litany, "Obliterated Alcove" plunges us into a somber monastic atmosphere. The first half is quite occult, black to the limit, with celestine layers which spatter the calmness of the devout choir while the second part is sharply more celestial with sanctified singings which flow as voices without purposes on the waves of a prismatic brook. "Peel Away This Mortal Coil "and" De-Altared" are two titles molded in the same alloy of metal in decomposition. Everything is of a fetid scent of metal which crumbles in an oblong unchanging din. The layers are nasal and scratch a structure soaked with a thick cloud of tones as metallic as ill-assorted. If we hear fluty breaths to moan, we also hear silvered blades complain such as some bagpipes on decline among carillons, tinkling, rustles and lapping of water which become entangled in astral hollows where moan the modulations of bass hidden in twilights abstruse. On the other hand the finale of "De-Altared" is more musical, brushing the leaded sweetnesses of the introductory track.
More than a musical adventure without borders nor musical beacons, Deconsecrated and Pure is to contemplative EM what Baudelaire is to loving poetry. It is a dark work. Not because of its musicality, but rather because of its contents which is extremely lumbering and atonal. If certain nuances illuminate our loudspeakers and dandle our ears of a certain iconoclastic magnetism, the fusion of tones, which sometimes embrace breaths of a silvered coldness, is scratching any attempt to tame a work which finds its entire dimension close to a circle of initiated and lovers of an EM without auditory images. Circle of which I’m visibly not in it! -Sylvain Lupari