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.
There 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 comparitions, 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“!
ALIO DIE – OBLITERATED ALCOVE