3. Dew and Rust
4. Between Grass and Sky
5. The Forest Does Not Sleep
6. Bright Garden
7. Vegetal Sculpture
8. Snow on the Concrete
Styles: Electronic, ambient, space music
The union of two sometimes very contrasting minds made this release possible. Not just the minds of the two Italian electronic artists, Jarguna and Serena, but the minds of two different jungles: nature and civilization — the organic growth of flowers and trees and the cities made of iron and concrete.
Jarguna, a botanical researcher (ethnobotanist), is always traveling in search of plants and the culture that revolves around them. The other, Serena, is an urban explorer resting his gaze on corners where “distracted” people do not stop and are unable to observe fascinating details, stories permeated in the structures.
A musician for over 30 years, Serena says the album reflects “a journey into a not-too-distant dystopian future where an uncontaminated nature slowly envelops archaeological fragments of disappeared civilizations, recovering its fundamental primary role as a living laboratory. The sounds and rhythmic interweaving of synthesizers and sequences accompany us throughout the journey often letting real forest sounds emerge like rays of sunshine through the mists of an undergrowth in a humid dawn. We created this work through a close collaboration as we live in the same valley here in Italy — or better to say, jungle.”
“Amongst Jungles, my 46th release,” Jarguna states, “is less exclusively ambient. It is structured by rhythms and refrains, a sound that is partly retro, partly avant-garde (yes, avant-garde!) ambient, progressive, since it never ends how it starts. Two worlds that try to coexist, sometimes one dominates the other. I am referring to the two jungles: nature and civilization. The man who constantly tries to control both one and the other, mere illusion! The synthetic sounds blend with some forest landscapes, which I myself have recorded. Imagine seeing a skyscraper totally surrounded by vegetation. A few years would be enough because the earth carried by the wind enters and with it, a seed. A little water and the Earth takes back its space.”
“The search for sound and rhythm was complex and articulated. The expressions of the timbres of some sounds led us into dense and twisted jungles, lights, shadows build mechanical, artificial dimensions, sometimes simple and spontaneous.”
Jarguna is sonic-alchemist Marco Billi. He creates organic-ambient-electronic music in mandala-like hymns of richly enveloping ritual music. Since his first recordings in 1998, Jarguna’s work has been an exploration of sounds, feelings, contrasts, passion, acoustics and electronics. In the early 2000s Jarguna was a student of Serena in a course of sound engineering and DAW (digital audio workstation).
Born in Florence, Italy, in 1960, Nicola first studied piano and in 1977 began exploring new sounds in electronic music. He dedicates himself to the composition of soundtracks for television documentaries (Overland, Rai TV) and audio books. As an arranger and composer, Nicola designs multimedia installations where sound and image coexist in a single project. He is known by the pseudonym Nick Straybizer and has also released 6 albums under his own name. Nicola creates evocative compositions, exploring countless genres over the years from 90’s new age to techno, chillout, EDM and techno electronic.
“I met Marco many years ago,” recalls Nicola. “Thanks to our passion for electronic music and synthesizers, we decided to create this project that combines our musical and cultural experiences. It is an album where there are multiple sound fragments, a synthesis of small experimental studies. This combination has allowed for the creation of a wonderful work that encompasses our experiences in electronic and ambient music.”
Reviews Editor –
Joint review of My Temple 2 and Amongst Jungles
Any regular reader of Exposé over the last four-or-so years should be at least familiar with the name Jarguna, the working name of Italian sound sculptor Marco Billi, during which time we have reviewed a dozen of his releases, both solo and in collaboration with other like-minded travelers. This double review considers his most recent release, My Temple 2, a follow-on from his 2020 release My Temple, as well as the collaboration with Nicola Serena titled Amongst Jungles. Serena has been releasing music since the 80s, both as a member of the dance/techno groups R.E.M. (not to be confused with the well-known American band) and Out of Sync, and later as a composer and arranger of TV documentary soundtracks under the name Nick Straybizer Serena (with seven releases to date).
Much like the original My Temple from 2020, My Temple 2 is a single long form piece around an hour in length, a cascade of slow moving floating ambient chords occasionally mixed with mysterious field recordings and duly informed by metallic sounding textures that fold gently into the fabric of the piece. The evolution is slow to a point that the listener might not even recognize the changes as they occur, fading over one another and into the flow as the piece slowly proceeds down its path, a slow swirl that might well remind of Tibetan bells or glass bowls as they echo in the distance through a blanket of thick fog in extreme slow motion. There are few signposts to let the listener know where they are, only an endlessly stretching ribbon that seems to stretch out in all directions at once, folding back inward as we follow the continuum. If the dreaming starts before you get to sleep, worry not, that’s the expectation with ambient soundscapes like My Temple 2, imersive alteration of consciousness. A short four-and-a-half minute excerpt of the main piece is included as a bonus track, though don’t expect that to bring you the full effect that an hour in the cosmic spiral does, but at least you’ll get an idea.
Amongst Jungles is a completely different experience, even though it’s comprised of many of the same types of sounds — organic ever-expanding synth drones, found sounds (including voices), cosmic sounds of shimmering starlight, gentle mystical sequences, and more. If anything, it’s more of an electronic album in the classic sense of the word, with clusters of bold colors dancing across the listener’s field of vision and bristling arrangements of sequential evocations, swirling around inside the overall immersive experience. The album is comprised of eight pieces of varying length (from under six minutes to over eleven), and although the pieces tend to shift gears and alternate frequently, they could generally be described as a fifty-fifty mix of sequenced electronics and gentle floating ambient, with field recordings of water, wind, insects, and animals adding to both as required. With an appropriate title, “The Forest Does Not Sleep” seems to feature it all, cicadas, crickets, monkeys, some random hand drum percussives, gently bubbling synths amid pastel floating abstractions, creeking sounds of a walkway through the jungle, the cooing in the background, all mixed together with a blanket of beautiful electronics. True, as previously noted, this is a completely different experience from the mostly textural nature of My Temple 2, though both offer a powerful experience for deep listeners. -Peter Thelen
Reviews Editor –
From Dave Aftandilian (at Bandcamp)
Fascinating ambient visions of a future when the worlds of nature and society become so intertwined that the borders between them disappear. There is some darkness here: shadowed places with unknown, unsavory denizens. But mostly the feeling is exploratory, hopeful, and transformative: warm tears of rain glossing a leaf, dropping to the dirty pavement, then moistening a seed in a crack that becomes a green shoot shining amongst the gray.