Healing Herb's Spirit (1998)

Combine ritual, shamanic percussion with Alio Die's intimate atmospheres and the result is a rich, layered sound full of unearthly tribal textures. Hand-made and ethnic instruments mix with Alio Die's organic ambience, in a sublime abyss of ambient consciousness.  

Alio Die is well known and respected worldwide for his ultra organic-soundscapes that often use extensively-processed natural sounds as the foundation for his hallucinogenic sound gardens. Here with fellow Italian Antonio Testa, the direction moves towards the shamanic as Testa brings his long list of ethnic percussion instruments to the mix. This is an outstanding stream of consciousness trip carried along by gentle rhythms, muted drones and Alio Die soundscapes hovering like a rainforest canopy.
Distant voice chants come and go, strange flutes appear, a sudden rain storm occurs and fades away to the surreal impression of a ceremony deep in a rainforest. This release along with the duo's Prayer for the Forest were released at two different times on different labels, but when played back-to-back it's clear these were separated at birth. They make a perfect pairing, as the overall feeling is maintained throughout both discs. File these in the same space as Vinebark & Spore, Forgotten Gods, solo Jorge Reyes and the earlier music of Fourth World Godfather Jon Hassell. This and Prayer for the Forest  are a must-have if you are drawn to the ethno- shamanic sound blends.

Steve Roach

Healing Herb's Spirit takes you on a journey into the gossamer world of the Shaman, with refreshing soundscapes and earthy ambience. This release is a collaboration between Antonio Testa with his ritual percussion and Stefano Musso of Alio Die with his organic ambience. These two Italian composers display a talent unrivaled by their peers. What I appreciate most about the music is Testa's creative use of hand made and ethnic instruments. He uses over 20 exotic instruments including seed and bone whistles, flying romb, water punpkin, stalgmite(!?), and Tibetan bowls. The instruments never overpower the ambient base, but work together to create texture and direction. The dark and soothing ambience never sounds artificial and the occasional vocal element adds a human touch to the nature inspired music. "Healing Herb's Spirit" is just what the doctor ordered: a lush quiet soundscape of beauty to transport your mind to a place of ethereal peace. I'll be keeping this CD close at hand for when I need a quick escape from this world." 

Octavia / Outburn #9   

Earthy and shamanic (organic), rich textures slither, coil around the ears (embrace), leading the listener into all the remote pockets of unexplored terrain, a full-bodied excursion, and yet the sound is not cluttered or overwhelming.  Quite the contrary, the fascinating collage of instruments (including Woodblock rototom, bone flute, rainstick, Tibetan bowls, water pumpkin,  bamboo... stones, shells and leaves.. .electronics, samples, etc.) helps to create a diverse canopy under which the mind fills with images of forests (trees sighing...), wind and sky, of the sentience of eons long dead but still infused with vitality. The result is an always expanding array of sounds enmeshed in the fabric of ritual, of sonically soothing spiritual diversions that lead to transcendence, peaceful and yet invigorating.  Ah, but within this framework, the heart of the disc grows quite dark, leery, more mysterious... it is a prismatic travelogue incorporating many sonic colours or lacks thereof (reds, yellows, grays...blacks...) in a haunting and sporadically time resistant cocoon... time standing still... losing meaning.  A nice transition that keeps the listener always attentive.  Calm, though quite invigorating...

JC Smith - Alternative Press, August 1998