04 Serpent Mound
05 Starlight Stream
An encounter between ancestral and futuristic sounds, we could almost dare to say between the sacred and the profane. On his 42nd album, Italy’s jarguna collaborates with Illinois’s Chris Russell on a mystical electronic-ambient topography of drone drifts creating dream-like visions opening a look back in time to revisit the daily life of bygone people and maybe experience some of their earth medicine.
The album’s inspiration is in fact the imagery of the funeral process; even if the topic is grotesque to some, in truth passing away is a very important aspect for many ancient cultures, indeed the cornerstone of numerous spiritual and initiatory paths — just see what the Egyptians, Mayans, Aztecs and other ancient civilizations built. The electronic atmospheres are perfect for this theme: sounds without borders, an encounter between drones as a hymn to the gates of life and death.
Attracted by the sacred, one past group in America — later named the Adena people — had a burial method for their loved ones in a decidedly bizarre fashion. The burial distributed the bodies of the dead in a single line, adding above them a mound of stones lined up to resemble the spine of a long snake. In this culture, limited to Ohio, it seems the different local populations also witnessed the fall of a large meteorite in the area where they built their mounds. Theories emerged regarding hypothetical contacts with “divine entities” who communicated and transmitted knowledge, akin to the Hopi beliefs.
Chris said, “I have always loved and been enthralled with the Ancient Alien connection to these people so I worked with sounds with a futuristic and cosmic quality to them. What jarguna and I created takes the listener on a journey conveying the wonderment and excitement I felt being at the effigy mounds in person, feeling the energy and connection with the ancients.”
jarguna adds, “Beyond the collective imagination and mind often conditioned by dogmas and religions, in this album we dig into fears and expectations. Here in an increasingly consumerist and material world, it is true that we avoid talking about death as a taboo. The album explores an underground mystery of ancient beliefs and new, futuristic theories, perhaps closer to reality than you can imagine.”
With sound elaborations originating directly from the dark side and light side of our soul, these pieces evoke other dimensions, other worlds, perhaps just what these ancient populations once dreamed of.
Reviews Editor –
From Audion #70
A collaboration between two contemporary ambient artists that doesn’t quite do the expected. Well, I was expecting all shimmers and drones, yet the opening track Mound Builder is a surging piece with a dominant tribal type rhythm. After that, the tracks alternate: ambient, rhythmic, ambient, an so on, although the percussion in track 5 Starlight Stream, never really gets to a cohesive beat. Only the three ambient pieces are at all in the realm I did expect, deep resonant Michael Stearns realms with Allegewi, somewhat cavernous and spooky Robert Rich like with Serpent Mound, and then vast and sprawling with Adena, a near 25 minute opus which also features use of temple bells and suchlike.
Reviews Editor –
Serpent Mound is one of the great mysteries of prehistoric America, located in southern Ohio near Peebles. While its only a few feet tall at its highest, its width is around twenty to twenty five feet, and its length is an amazing 1,375 feet, snaking along next to the Ohio Brush Creek. Radio carbon dating shows that the mound is likely over two thousand years old, probably created by the Adena Culture who lived in this area between 800 BC and 100 AD, though the mound’s purpose is ultimately unknown, possibly for burial, left by a long lost civilization with no written records; a debate about its purpose and origins is ongoing between archaeologists.
As a source of inspiration for a musical endeavor, the mysteries of the Serpent Mound seem custom made for a collaboration between Italy’s Jarguna (Marco Billi) and American ambient composer Chris Russell, both of whom we have covered numerous times in Exposé. The six pieces herein present dreamy visions of the ancient forms, seemingly culling knowledge from those lost prehistoric cultures and applying it to the compositions and arrangements. Each piece presents drifty atmospherics and muted melodic colorations to sonic textures that are at once stirring and beautiful. “Mound Builder” opens the set with a powerful and slowly evolving percussive underpinning, with soft, droning atmospheres that together capture a vision of the mound’s prehistoric origins. “Allegewi” refers to ancient cave-dwelling cryptids that inhabited the Allegheny mountains. The mystical swirls of droning electronics meet with dreamlike textural elements evoking a sense of calm and quiet meditation. With “Starlight Stream,” a mixture of mysterious droning subsonics, heavenly melodies, and electronic punctuations mix together in enigmatic secrecy. The closer is the 25-minute “Adena,” with its obscured mysticism followed by engaging sonic artifacts as it evolves slowly over its extended duration, even incorporating some subtle spoken elements. For listeners who can appreciate these slowly evolving dreamlike structures and moody ambient textures communing with ancient energies, Transmissions from Serpent Mound is the Rx. -Peter Thelen
From Dave Aftandilian
We don’t know for sure who built Ohio’s Serpent Mound, or when, or why. And it is this central Mystery that Jarguna and Chris Russell express so well with their tribal and cosmic ambience. I feel my consciousness being transported to another era, my body moved by the hypnotic percussion of the ritual, my mind tuned in to connect with the powers of Earth and Sky. These powerful echoes of another time will remain with you long after the album’s last note sounds.