Healing Herb's Spirit (1998)
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
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.
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
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...
Smith - Alternative Press, August 1998