Khen introduce silence (2003)
basic improvisations only from sounds produced by Khen (mouth-organ from
Thailand/Laos) and processed by different
controls like filters, pan and multi-effects, Stefano Musso looks for a
vibrational enviroment that is like
a special point of view, where time
changes his meaning and sometimes becomes absolutely relative, finding a place
for contemplation, like being in the clouds and breathing with the sound of the
spheres. Observe the circular
harmony of seasons in his never ending flow, it speaks like old poetry that is
familiar to the soul.
time between Alio Die's last work, "Il Tempo Magico di Saturnia Pavonia,
now was clearly
Waxing, waning, organic minimal ambience all built around the extended drones of
the khen - a mouth organ from Thailand or Laos. Naturally in the hands of Alio
Die and having undergone appropriate processing this simple instrument is the
source of unearthly strands of varying harmony and dissonance. Thickening the
leading drones are various environmental recordings ranging from what sound like
Tibetan chimes and faint voices to tricklings of water, distant thunder, birds,
crickets, frogs. The final track on the album takes the unique approach of
gradually building a rumbling ambience populated with crickets or frogs and then
abruptly cutting to a familiar khen drone - this drone gradually fades and the
process repeats. What initially feels distinctly odd, gradually becomes a rhythm
until once again we're drawn comfortably into Alio Die's distinct sound world.
MOOD The mood is other-worldly and timeless - sometimes sombre (as occasionally drones are) but more often serene or meditative. The water effects soften the atmosphere, frequently leading us between tracks, sometimes becoming the focus as the khen recedes. Some pieces are slow and almost monumental whereas others waver to and fro with revolving tonal cycles layering like waves. We are left with an impression of artist and environment collaborating together to realise a peculiar musical concept.
ARTWORK The front cover artwork is highly textural - apparently dappled with patterns of light. The back cover features an enigmatic, dislocated stone ear listening under the surface of a pool of water. Across these panels the unobtrusive text is simple, black and functional. The inner booklet has no words at all - simply a photograph of a tree reflected in water - one could easily imagine the artist himself hidden here, sharing the khen with the location. Track titles are all in Italian except track 6 - 'Introduce Silence'.
OVERALL This collection of humming ethnic mouth-organ tones is not the most accessible of albums - but once the listener is absorbed, the effect is one of natural tranquillity. Stefano Musso is credited with playing: khen (mouth organ), drones and loops. He also produced the environmental recordings taken in Thailand and in Lunigiana/Italy. Ginfranco Cualbu plays percussion on one track, Francesco Paladino provided the environmental sounds from Katmandu and Nepal and Teo Zini/Opium those from Topolo', Italy.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM This CD will likely be enjoyed by those drawn to experimental ambient music. The overall effect is minimal, environmental, meditative. Alio Die is working far, far from the mainstream of modern music - if you fancy a trip to somewhere musically distant, this might be for you, just don't expect nice beats and friendly melodies.
'Khen Introduce Silence' Alio Die improvised drones, loops and most
interestingly, his playing of the khen(e), a Laotian mouth organ mentioned above,
over field recordings collected by himself and friends from Thailand, Nepal and
his native Italy. Lovely, sustained pitches coming from deep down in the belly
satifsy the soul and hunger of the listener. Stirring and uplifting.
The semi-title track ‘Introduce Silence’ is absolutely mesmerizing, engulfing the listener in warm comfortable numbness even as the strom clouds litererally gather.
The sounds combine until we hear a pipe-organ playing in an open-air cathedral located by a stream running through a redwood forest - like the trees, the sound just soars heavenward and seems never to stop.
name of Stefano Musso stands as of one of the true pioneers of ambient drone
music having been active in the scene for nearly two decades releasing well over
20 CD¹s during this period via his highly acclaimed project, Alio Die. Released
on CD in 1992 on the respected Projekt imprint ‘Under an Holy Ritual’,
received widespread praise and kick-started an illustrious career in the largely
underground music scene. As aptly summarised on Musso's website Œcharacterized
by evocative acoustic sounds manipulated and tendered electronically, Alio Die's
work builds intimate soundscapes tied to the mystery and majesty of life and
nature. And that really does sum up Alio Die’s ethic, in a proverbial nutshell.
As well as a plethora of solo releases Stefano Musso has collaborated with many
well, known artists including Robert Rich, Vidna Obmana, Antonio Testa and
mathias Grassow which demonstrates the pedigree of the man.
‘Khen Introduce Silence’ is a 2003 CD release on Musso’s own Hic Sunt Leones label and is a luxurious meisterwerk of ambient drone. As the press for this release reads Œtaking basic improvisations only from sounds produced by Khen (mouth-organ from Thailand / Laos) and processed by different controls like filters, pan and multi-effects, Stefano Musso looks for a vibrational environment that is like a special point of view, where time changes his meaning and sometimes becomes absolutely relative, finding a place for contemplation, like being in the clouds and breathing with the sound of the spheres. Observe the circular harmony of seasons in his never-ending flow, it speaks like old poetry that is familiar to the soul. With these words ringing in our ears I think it’s time to embark on a voyage of discovery and attempt to give a flavour for this superlative listening experience.
At journeys beginning, softly, the gilded silver strains of ‘Puntar orecchio alle Sfere’ penetrate the silence, warm drones ululating gently on a breeze of vaporous, organic sound. Subtle changes in texture and timbre in a warm haze of drones create audio illusions akin to tricks of the light and shadow. The sound of the Khen has been stretched and altered, filtered and manipulated so that it is transformed into a basso profundo organ drone that underpins the whole track whilst soft, warbling tones skitter freely in the air above. Stefano has skilfully manipulated the sound to yield a soundscape of intense beauty that touches on the sacred; perfect for deep contemplation. ‘Gli ossidi del divenire’ begins with a low keening drone overlaid with simple temple percussion that lends an air of fragility and ritual to the evolving soundscape. The sound of the khen is dissected, laid bare and stitched back together into an other worldly drone that seems to waft through the mix like a creeping fog. In ‘Accarezzando Soma come si fa con una piuma’ the atmosphere is light and airy, undulating softly against the sound of running water. This is the sound that light makes as it falls onto transient clouds of spray kicked up from eddies and currents in small streams; golden and shining, twinkling like metallic motes of dust caught, momentarily in filtered shafts of fiery light. This track is the perfect accompaniment to deep relaxation, imagined waves lapping at the shore of distant memories. Despite the seeming simplicity of the musical elements employed, here, each tract of aural sinew has been carefully and skilfully woven into a complex tapestry of generative sound, organic, natural and imprinted with genuine emotion.
‘Fu' cosi' il sogno a tessere radici a terra ed a provvedere al nutrimento’
‘Introduce Silence’ begins with glacial, slow-burn layers of drone that each seem to fade in and out of the amorphous flow of sound according to their own inner cycles. Sounds of cicadas call out, plaintively, almost giving the track a sense of rhythm. This is music or the nocturnal inner voyager; somnolent and hypnotic. Muted, reverberant crashes like distant thunder occasionally punctuate the air giving the feeling of some distant storm slowly circumventing the night sky. This is a warm and sticky drone opus that clings like due to the morning grass, pastoral and wondrous, full of portent and omen. Finally, the moment passes and all activity fades, borne away on a glacial brume. Final track, ‘In vulvica risonanza’, is carried into being on the back of golden filaments of high tuned drones, like some fragile thread of gossamer resonating in the breeze. Just as the track seems to settle into itself and relax the atmosphere abruptly changes with a glitch that leads into more experimental territory. If the sound of a shoal of fish all suddenly changing direction at once due to some trigger stimuli could be rendered into slow motion and transcribed into sound I am pretty sure it would sound like this. The track continues in a similar vein carefully alternating between drone, near silence and then glitch to a new state like some quantum effect in the fabric of sound.
Alio Die manages to tap directly into a rich and seamless vein of sound that is at once natural, ephemeral and majestic. This is sound that invites the listener into a state of contemplation and relaxation as if by divine seduction. There is a fragility present in three tracks that intimates a oneness with the elemental aspects of nature. ‘Khen Introduce Silence’ holds you in its thrall, bathing you in a soft lament. This is music of the spheres nectar of the gods; a wondrous aural experience for all that submit themselves to the spirit of nature and relish the transient sanctuary of peaceful contemplation. Thoroughly recommended.