The Sleep of Seeds (2003)

The title is also the opening track of this macroscopic journey into a  world which spontaneously engages us when we travel through it.  A link between life and earth, a passageway between time and change. A melodius itinerary in which a time hourglass often makes no sense but only the sound of articulated and fragmentary notes...50 minutes between a seed and a grain of soil to wander into an infinite space while listening to a far away earth longing sound. Recorded in Savona Italy august 2002, with  different flutes, tubes, accordion, various objects, rattles, shells, bells... Drones and loops, effects,editing and mastering on Pro-Tools, at Temple Studio Milano, spring 2003. 


Next is The Sleep of Seeds, a collaboration with Saffron Wood (who listeners might remember  from way back on 1993's The Promises of Silence compilation). This is a fifty minute long meditation on the growth of plantlife from seed to above-ground entity. This is an appropriate area of musical exploration because the work of Alio Die has always been about the microworlds of sound usually ignored by casual listeners. Why not focus on an area of life normally unseen, transmuted into musical impressions? Different from most recent Alio Die albums, this collaboration contains three sprawling tracks of ambience, rather than short sonic impressions. The first, "The Sleep of Seeds",  is remarkably abstract--harking to the early days of Alio Die's work, when it resembled Ora and Art of Primitive Sound. This track is a twenty minute revolving of experimental elements, strange percussives, unknown electronic noises, dissonant textures. The sleep of seeds is clearly an alien slumber, with quiet dreams. The track dithers on improvisationally, ending with haunting bass drones and strange, muted cries. "Awakening in a New Form" is not remarkably different from the first track, though toward the end a transition is made to deeper levels of drone. The underworld life of the seed has expanded into more broad and beautiful terrain, as it stretches its nascent tendrils towards the sun. Finally, "A Dream of Mother Ground" expands even further into strange whistling, tribal flutes, and marvelous water ambience--the plant is reaching high into the air, splashed with nature's water, photosynthesizing in a wild, natural life-orgy. This is a highlight of the album--there are no humans to interrupt the cycle; this is pure pre-history at work; when plants covered the landmasses of Earth, not choking the land, but an endless soft green caress. This is a singularly understated album, very much harkening back to the early Alio Die days of unusual environmental ambient. This will appeal most to fans of Alio Die's earliest material, though I personally find it to be somewhat of a throwback to music Musso has already expanded and improved upon. Perhaps not the most essential part of this trio, but an interesting trip nonetheless.

Brian Bieniowski

Three wandering tracks of evolving drones and percussive scatterings. The artists suggest a ritualistic approach to music creation making creative use of such diverse sonic sources as flutes, tubes, various objects, rattles, shells and bells along with ambient drones, loops and effects. An accordion is played but not for melody, more as if exploring the instrument as an unfamiliar sound object, producing long droning strands.
This CD feels almost like the soundtrack to a piece of outdoor performance art, as manipulated natural sounds unfurl among flutish breaths, metallic jangles and whirling tubes. At times the impression is one of lonely winds blowing through derelicts, at other times the loose structure produces an almost carefree feeling - all the while the titles draw us downward into nature with all of its urgent serenity. Dissonant layers, water effects and thick rolling textures work to bind everything into a focussed poetry of montaged sound.
In keeping with the theme of the project, the cover artwork features a collage of seeds, seedpods and rich texture all carefully laid out like a gallery presentation. Inside we have the three track titles: The Sleep Of Seeds, Awakening In A New Form and A Dream Of Mother Ground along with appropriate credits.
The package works well to create a unified vision of the life cycle and dream world of plants and soil. Both Alio Die and Saffron Wood pleasantly invite contact by including their email addresses alongside photographic portraits.
Three haunting explorations of unearthly sound built around a very earthly concept. Many of the elements sound improvised to such an extent that they're almost too random to be of human origin - thick breathing and rumbles, water noises and bestial snorting. By contrast the introduction of a gently plucked zither produces a warming melodic tenor. Stefano tells us regarding his approach to recording "sometimes the quality of the sounds, I mean special tunings and kind of vibrations, can help a lot to go into a new layer of sensibility. In the studio process this discovery opens possibilities to enter into the special taste of the specific sound combinations. Then finding the best approach for the occasion, it becomes transparent that the music form starts to shine itself".

Morpheus Music Review

Alio Die has been one of Stefano Musso’s projects since 1989, under whose name he has produced several releases and collaborations. This release is a collaboration between Alio Die and Saffron Wood. He has also produced several releases under his own name, in various labels, among which Project and Relapse. The Sleep Of Seeds was released by his own label, Hic Sunt Leones, in 2003.
While I was listening to the CD I had seated myself in a spot where I could see the buildings and balconies across the street. As summer has sunk its claws on Athens already, it was a warm sunny day, with a soft, refreshing breeze going through everything. At some point I noticed a pixie made of silver paper hanging off a balcony right across my window. As I was watching the miniature fairy moving according to the will of the wind, I thought this was a very suitable setting to begin from: a little bit of nature and of magic, off-key in an urban scenery. A positive, radiant kind of magic however, one with soothing and relaxing properties, reminiscent of light, sun, charming landscapes and overall gratification. At least that’s the effect it had on me.
It sort of fixes itself in the general background and creates a meditative atmosphere that does not impose on, but rather accompanies your thoughts.
The release comprises of 3 tracks, building upon various layers of electronic and organic sound, as well as drones and repetitions. The sound is clear and distinct, feeding the listener with just enough sound information to induce the desired ambience, but as I said, by no means being intrusive or aggressive ­ quite the opposite actually. Personally I like it, as I can find certain times where relaxation and disengagement from the physical environment is necessary, and I prefer at such times for the music to be more suggestive and discreet. And this is just that kind of recording.
The first track, “The Sleep Of Seeds”, is a down tempo combination of various natural sounds, what seems to be field recordings and electronics, harmonic, minimalistic and balanced. It sets the soundscape on which the next two tracks will develop some more. As opposed to the first track that is 22 minutes long, the second one, “Awakening In A New Form”, is a brief interpretation of the natural transformation that takes place, the evolution, the transformation as stated by the title. Musically it is mostly a game between a flute and what my untrained ear can recognize as a distorted loop, with secondary layers being built by what sounds like bells, tubes, drones Which leads us to “A Dream Of Mother Ground”, the final track which lasts about 20 minutes, And in which an elaborate tapestry is presented, containing almost all the diverse elements we see in the two previous tracks: various natural sounds and found recordings, bells, drones, electronic sounds and distortions, flute, loops, accordion and the likes. All these sounds spiral into a crescendo and then as naturally as they have intensified, disappear one by one, leaving an echoing, distinct drone and a few electronic ones that mainly remind one of bird singing, for the recording to end, placing one¹s body back on solid ground, as gently as it had been lifted in the beginning.

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