Three organic experiences

AGLAIA is a musical project performed by Gino Fioravanti and Gianluigi Toso. Gino Fioravanti is at the same time: therapist, writer, painter and musician and his touch with electronic music perfectly blends human and cosmic/amniotic. His writings and his studies go thorugh different fields like Alchemy, mithology, ortho-bionomy. Gianluigi Toso is a musician and a back-school teacher. He performes different musical styles, and, together with Gino Fioravanti, he has realized many cd mainly for mind and spirit.

"The concept of AGLAIA is to create long musical instants, apparently motionless, but with inside the movement of undreds of nuances, micro-variations, pulsations. A fluid, sonoruous tapestry with a never ending motion. The music was thought like a magma of raw materials to refine throught an infinite number of sonorous passages. The listening of  T.O.E. behave towards the micro-particle that compose our subtle individual plot, in a world where nothing is firm and nothing is really moving."

Label Press

Sometimes it seems all too easy to make atmospheric drift music. Your friends tell you, "Hey, you could do this yourself and save a lot of money." Or, as is too often the case, a favorite artist pumps out material with little attention to self-editing -- leading you to believe you are privy to every musical move the artist has ever made, for better or worse. There's a lot of ambient music available, and the more you hear, the more confusing it can be to separate what is good, worthwhile work, and what is simple noodling on electronics and synth.
This brings me to Aglaia, an Italian duo previously unknown to me. Their CD "Three Organic Experiences" appeared on Hic Sunt Leones this year -- a label I normally hunt down without question. Two previously unknown artists, purchased because of label loyalty rather than any hint of quality from sound samples. The usual "out there" copy from Hic Sunt Leones. It sounds like a recipe for disappointment.
Instead, what we have is, in my opinion, the finest atmospheric drift album created in 2003. "Three Organic Experiences" is comprised of three mammoth tracks, all stylistically related but separate compositions. The effect created as a totality is akin to a gradual sinking beneath the sea, floating ever down, to eventually rest on ocean's bottom -- urrounded by a beautiful, submerged garden populated by radiant, sea life. Perhaps the strength of this album is how composed it all seems, even though at first listen is appears the tracks meander prettily till their close. However, with repeated listens (in itself a pleasant and welcoming process) one cannot help but notice the forward motion of each track to an eventual, shivers-inducing climax.
"The Mysterious Fish Named Kun" waxes and wanes like tidal movement, embellished with heavily-sustained processed flute, strange underwater noises, lullaby synth, tinkling bells, and rainstick electronic effects. We've dipped into this other ocean, a warm, inviting environment, searching for the mysterious fish. Instead, we find a shimmering world, alien in character, but completely benevolent. This is a slow journey; one has all the time in the world to admire the gradual drifting-by of fantastic organisms, resplendently bright and colorful. In fact, though outwardly this music appears quite static, it is constantly changing, rather like the natural oceans that comprise much of our planet's surface area. This is twenty-three minutes of pure oceanic bliss.
The next track, "The Tribe of the Flying Monkeys" is somewhat more rooted on land. However, the constant undercurrent of rushing water is present, creating an unquestionable relationship with track one. This track has haunting synth overlaid upon deep zither tones and mesmerizing water effects. The processed flute is also here, a welcome, grounding influence along with the plucking of an unknown stringed instrument. The album begins to take a musical travelogue aspect, as if we have come to ancient Earth to admire prehistory in its innocent beauty, before it was manipulated by human hands. The production is lush throughout this CD, creating an even more affecting environment for losing oneself in.
Finally, we are brought to "Seven Ancient Glaciers",  the capstone track. Twenty-seven minutes of beautiful muted vocalizations, overtone chant, water effects conjuring images of rivulets flowing from a vast frozen body, beautiful synth atmospheres, rainstick, and gonging windchimes. This is inquestionably the finest track on the album, one of supreme beauty, as if we are viewing the gradual creation of a new world uncovered from giant ice floes. Truly, it is the little details of a track like this, a shaker here, a gonging there, that make this a completely engaging experience. These tiny, well-placed details make for a more satisfying listen -- Aglaia have carefully crafted each track to function more like ancient folksongs sung by prehistoric life in a language heretofore forgotten. This is the sound of the Earth before language and science, before man's labeling hands, before even mythological renderings of creation. It is the sound of Earth trilling to itself in an unending, constant now. The immersive effect of this track (and the whole album) is powerful, almost magical.
Aglaia have created a truly rare thing with "Three Organic Experiences". We are used to hearing countless good ambient titles from all the usual suspects; even this year we have been treated to four separate CDs by Steve Roach on a similar theme. All of these various titles are, in my opinion, dwarfed by the innocent, spiritual grandeur of Aglaia's work here. This is an album that will reward careful, repeated listens -- indeed, this CD demands repeated listens to unlock all of the tiny, myriad treasures it has to offer. I give this truly staggering work my highest recommendation. While 2003 still has some months to go, I will go so far as to write this will occupy the spot, for me, as best ambient atmospheric title of 2003. I don't throw this distinction down lightly. In my opinion, this work is just that good

Brian Bieniowski /