The Hidden Spring (1997)

Alio Die's The Hidden Spring will take you unto a world of peace and serenity. Imagine complete isolation with frogs and birds as the only creatures around. The calming sound of water is accentuated by deep and flowing drones that are masterfully beautiful and soothing. Italy's Stefano Musso is the guide on this sonic journey of tranquility. This is the 4th full-length Alio Die CD and his first since he collaborated with Robert Rich on the remarkable "Fissures" album released by Fathom / Hearts of Space. The Hidden Spring contains ten tracks and is 65 minutes long. Three of the songs were originally released on ND Records as a split cassette with Francisco Lopez. One is from the limited edition Alio Die "The Flight of Real Image" 3" CD on his own label Hic Sunt Leones. One song appeared on the "Twilight Earth" v/a CD on Timebase. Another was on the Promises of Silence Various Artist CD that was originally released on his own label and then again on Projekt Records. The four other tracks are completely new to this CD. Only three of the tracks have been on compact disc before and all are blended into an incredibly cohesive album. Full color packaging accompanies the sounds of Stefano Musso's lush organic ambient textures and samples.


"...and tracks such as "Amniotic Pot", "An Instant In Transformation", and "The Threshold of Beauty" are first rate-subtle and multilayered, with no visible scaffolding.  "Internal Top" is even better: Starting with a series of low, rumbling pulses, it adds the melodious clatter of bamboo sticks, and later still, chimes and wobbly synthesized drones that seem to contain tiny wailing voices."

Alternative Press, August 1998


Here's a collection of new (or at least "new" when this was released in '98) and previously released compositions from this interesting ambient soundscape artist. Many of the tracks seem to suggest watery landscapes, with thick, murky, wave-like movement. I can't tell what the abstract photos in the layout are, but they also appear to be underwater imagery. Droning low tones, eerie chimes, as well as slightly musical synths, samples, etc. all have their place. The recording is flawless, with easily audible layering and a complete range of sounds. Running times are generally very appropriate, with a few longer journeys or brief interludes throughout. This material is well done, there's a nice consistency between tracks without becoming redundant. These are fairly relaxing pieces, actually. The only obnoxious track is "The Hidden Spring", with overly obvious, loud samples that seem like bathing or something. An unfortunate end to an otherwise impressive effort. I really enjoyed this. Alio Die is definitely exploring something I've not heard in the past, and the originality is a plus.

Le label américain Crowd Control Activities se diversifie encore. Après Hybryds, Brume et Atrax Morgue, il nous propose un nouveau CD de Stefano Musso. Enfin nouveau, pas complètement. On y retrouve en effet outre des inédits, quelques titres issus de compilations et d'autres parus sur la cassette "fragments", le tout ayant été enregistré entre 1993 et 1997.  Bizarrement, l'ensemble reste homogène, même si les morceaux les plus récents sont évidmment plus construits et surtout d'une richesse sonore incroyable. Nappes flottantes, sons saturels profonds, rythmes envoûtants. Pure merveille.  

HARMONIE / Jean-Marc Boucher autumn 1999